We’ve all heard the term “willpower” from a motivational speaker or an inspiring achiever or from a magazine where its used as if it’s some magical force you just conjure up, and it pushes you to succeed in your goals.
“What is this willpower? How do people get it? And more importantly, how do I find it because apparently, I have no willpower because I’m still not getting the results I want.” – These might be just SOME of the thoughts running through your head about the topic.
Let me first just say, you do in fact have willpower. I used to think the same, “I have no willpower to stop eating snacks.” Until I made one of the most thought-provoking ideas in my fitness journey… If I didn’t have willpower, how come I hadn’t given up by now? (Which currently was year ten in trying to maintain a healthy weight).
Really; think about that for a quick second, you are still trying after how long? And you have the thought to undervalue your own effort enough to think you have no willpower? Applaud yourself right now because there is no room for undervaluing that effort here!
I think - it’s not a matter of “not having willpower," it’s a matter of knowing how to use it; effectively.
Let’s switch gears briefly, you’ve also heard the phrase “health is a mental battle," right?
These two ideas go hand in hand. Working your willpower is 100% a mental job, and if it’s a mental job, forcing physical actions like meal prepping, dieting, exercising, etc. most definitely is NOT working your willpower, your working your action-taking skills!
So, how do we work the willpower? You need to do things that are going to get you thinking and reflecting; you need to use your mind rather than your body. In the next section, I’m going to share with you some of the things I do to work my willpower BEFORE I begin to take the physical action needed to achieve my goals.
Decide you won’t be giving yourself an option: Really, make the decision that you are not going to let yourself give up, or stop, or waiver for even a second. We all have moments where we let loose and have a few bites of cake, but this doesn’t mean you give yourself the permission to continue eating in a way that makes you feel icky for the rest of the day. Make a commitment to yourself and write it down.
Spend time day dreaming about the end result: LOTS of time. Get comfortable with the feelings associated with your end result. How would it feel to fit into that dress again? Or to not feel self-conscious at the beach with your family? Make a mental picture that you cling to day in and day out that makes you feel REALLY good and imagine yourself living that life right now.
Make sure you really want it: This part might sound crazy, but sometimes clients come to me with a desire to lose weight or build more muscle, but after a little more digging, they don’t really want it. They are in fact happy right where they are, and their desire is stemming from what they think they should do – either from societal or peer pressure. Make sure this is something YOU want.
Write it down: I am a big fan of writing things down. All of the above, write it down. Write your commitment to yourself. Write out your vision. Write out the feelings associated with your goals. Write about whether this is what you truly want – or not. Writing it down will fire up more neurons in different parts of your brain than just thinking/speaking will. Meaning you are working even more of your willpower by getting more brain cells firing!
Now, once you do these things you can start to act and stay motivated with your actions. But this isn’t a one and done kind of deal. Just like building muscle or losing fat, working your will power (strengthening it) takes consistent practice. Practice these four steps for 10-15 minutes, and you will begin to see that your drive, your willpower will begin to work and each day you will see yourself making better and better choices for your body, your mind, and your life.