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Willpower Doesn’t Work

We all know the feeling of setting big, exciting goals but falling short despite hard work. After enough failure, it’s easy to conclude that you are the problem. But what if it was not your fault?

Willpower is the power to exert your free will against internal or external obstacles. It is like a muscle that depletes with use. Therefore, by the end of a strenuous day, your willpower muscles are exhausted, and you’re left with zero self-control.

If you need to exert willpower to do something, there is an obvious internal conflict. It means your desire for your goals isn’t strong enough and you aren’t invested in yourself and your dreams. It also comes from a challenging environment that opposes your goals.

Rather than relying solely on your own internal strength, true commitment involves building external defence systems around your goals. For example, if you want to eat healthy, remove all unhealthy foods from your house. If you want to be more motivated, take on greater responsibility and increase the stakes for both success and failure.

Your Environment Shapes You
The truth is that our environment shapes everything we do and think. Your environment has a direct and measurable impact on your life, unless you actively change it. Most people live small because their environment doesn’t require them to become more than they currently are.

Who you are and what you can do in one environment is very different from who you are and what you can do in another. You are always acting in a role and the roles are typically fixed. You act a particular way because of the rules of the situation you are in. You can change your patterns and change your roles by altering your environment.

If you remain stuck in the same roles and patterns, it doesn’t matter how much willpower you exert – you will always be confined within the limiting context of your role.

How to Make Willpower Irrelevant
Resting and recovering will actually increase your productivity. Only those who truly detach – mentally, emotionally and physically – can reattach when they start working again. After you are rested, you will return empowered and energised.

It is important to have a daily environment to help you stay on the right path toward your goals. You need to continually check in and make course corrections to ensure you’re going in the direction you want to. The best way to do this is to begin each day with a morning routine to put yourself into peak state.

Success happens when you take twenty steps in one direction. Most people take one step in twenty directions.

Elimination is the fastest path to progress and forward momentum. Get rid of the physical objects and distractions that stop you from achieving what you are wanting to achieve.

Act consciously and do everything with intention. If you know ahead of time what you’ll do if you veer off course, you’re more likely to stick to your habit. For example, ‘if I enter the kitchen and want to eat a biscuit, then I’ll drink a glass of water instead.’ You must replace an addictive behaviour with another behaviour.

Outsource High Performance and Success to Your Environment
If you want to achieve your goals, you must determine which environments produce the best outcomes. You can optimise your environment by structuring it with self-imposed situational factors that force you to act and achieve what you want. For example, you can leave your phone in the car if you do not want to be distracted by it when talking to a loved one or leave your laptop charger at home, you will work hard during the few hours you have until your battery runs out. Instead of relying on your willpower, you can remove the temptation altogether.

Willpower is not an effective approach to personal change. Outsource your willpower to a goal-enriching environment and you will flourish.

Adapted from Willpower Doesn’t Work a book by Benjamin Hardy.

About David Lawson

Finding the Light is a locally owned and operated counselling and life coaching business based in Bundaberg. We seek to empower our clients to find their way forward to a better life by using the approaches of counselling or coaching. If this blog article has raised more questions please contact us by email or call us on 0407 585 497 to arrange a time for us to discuss the article. Mention this blog and we will give you a FREE 30 minute session to discuss.

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