I think I’ve heard people say, “I have no willpower,” or, “my willpower ran out,” more times than I can count. Both of these statements couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve become convinced that will is greatly misunderstood.
If you’re a sports fan at all I suspect this will really resonate with you. Deep in the Stanley Cup playoffs you seen frequent demonstrations of will. It’s amazing how much higher the intensity of playoff hockey is over games played early in the season. It’s even more amazing when you can practically feel the energy of two teams that truly want to win, even sitting thousands of miles away from the stadium in your living room. In my opinion this is the power of will, in spite of all odds and statistics two teams appear so evenly matched, so determined to be the victor. Their will to win is incredibly strong, yet early in the season even a 100% effort to win would pale in comparison.
That’s the thing about will, it seems as though it’s bound by time. There’s no accurate measure of time too which each person can perform above their current standards or commit to major changes of lifestyle before their willpower runs out. I think this is because your power of will is greatly determined by the results of the immediate task.
If you go back to the hockey example you might liken it to the discussion of “team momentum.” A goal or that one big play is said to be a “momentum shift” giving that team a competitive edge. Suddenly they are energized by the power of their will, they have a stronger inner belief that they can succeed. This may seem like kind of a hokey discussion if you’ve read a number of my other articles but the truth is this may be at the very basis of what we do as personal trainers that allows our clients to continually succeed. We can’t change your life in a few hours a week, it’s imperative that we find a way to increase your will to succeed during all of the hours you don’t spend with us.
So you see when it comes to your own willpower the picture I am really try to draw for you is that if it “runs out,” it’s because too much time transpired before you achieved your desired goal. This only happens if your task list wasn’t realistic to reach the goal in the desired time or that the goal was much bigger than the task list. For example if your goal was to lose 30lbs in three months but you were only willing to cut down from eating fast food from 5 days a week to 4 it becomes obvious that your task list won’t be enough to reach the goal. This is where you need to be honest with yourself and set yourself up for success. First pick your goal, and then create the task list to get there. Itemize that task list based on what you are excited to commit to immediately and what will leave you feeling a sense of accomplishment. Create a daily checklist and physically check the items off each day. By creating your own personal scorecard you enhance the power of will rather than wear it out. The size of the success is irrelevant, the more success you experience the more personal “momentum” you’ll create. You’ll be executing your own personal playoff performance in no time.