The other day, one of my daughters asked where I find the strength (willpower) to deal with everything life throws at me. At the time, we were talking about the seemingly endless list of stuff that stands in the way of our goals.
I answered, "I've had lots of practice over the years. Everything I've dealt with in my life helped me build the self-discipline needed to keep going even when it is difficult."
It wasn't until later that, I realized she may have been asking for some more practical examples of how to build the willpower necessary to plow on through the "stuff" in her way. That is one of her greatest strengths (she asks good questions). Thanks Pooh Bear.
The strength we use to start, continue, and stop what we do comes through one place and one place only. That place is our will. I'm not saying the energy we use starts there. Nor does it end there. Energy is eternal (always changing, but eternal). I am only saying that our will is what we use to take in the energy our body gathers focus it toward defining our existence.
Our will defines us. Where it starts and ends, we start end. And so, the more powerful our will is, the more powerful we are. I like to think of my will as a living lens. This living lens begins unique from all other wills and grows more so as we mature. I didn't get to choose the lens given me, but I do choose how I use it. Also, this lens takes in more than just sunlight. It takes in everything in the environment I subject it to.
A word of caution here, use great care in what environments you subject your will to. Yup, you have the power of choice. In making that choice consider how our conscious mind is the hand that holds the lens of our willpower. Make good conscious choices about what environment(s) you choose to bend your will with.
If willpower is a living lens, then (like all things living) it will grow strong if nourished and weak if neglected and malnourished. Here are some ways you can improve the strength and focus of your willpower.
1. Remove the Other Choice: This is perhaps the most powerful tool for enhancing your willpower. The most amazing accomplishments have been completed because "there was no other way". Inversely, some of the most mediocre outcomes are caused by someone "keeping their options open". Which of those two quoted phrases are you using most?
2. Recognize Failure as a Critical Step: It is not the end of the process, just a necessary learning step toward success.
3. Eliminate the Negative: Life is full of naysayers and doubt-casters. They are the ones who quickly take you out at the knees when you offer an idea that might have legs. Too much of them and we tend to stop offering, developing, and acting on our ideas. After a while we don't even realize we are doing nothing, but nay-saying and doubt-casting our selves. DO NOT join this crowd. Get them out of you life wherever possible and politely see right through them where it is not. Anytime anyone says, "It can't be done", they are really saying, "I tried it and I couldn't figure out how". Listen only to those who offer constructive criticism to help you grow. If you do that and keep trying, you will figure out how.
4. Seek Out Like Minded People: Goodwill resonates and spending copious amounts of time around people like you is a willpower multiplier. No matter what strength of will you have, now this will have an exponential effect on your strength.
5. Regulate Your Energy Supply: You are what you eat. People overestimate the reward and underestimate the damage those quick pick-me-ups have in store for us. Maintaining a steady and sustained focus of will requires a steady and sustained diet of foods that give a dependable release of energy.
6. Sleep: No matter what you think you will be better for yourself and everyone else if you give time for your subconscious mind to do its thing. Yes, this is often easier said than done. Still, it is more than worth the effort to sorting your priorities before you sit-down in front of the television, eliminating nightly stress, and establishing a routine that gets you the sleep you need. If you do this, you will find you are not so week when you face distractions, need to focus for extended periods, need to multitask, or have the displeasure of needing to do something you'd rather not. Sleep will add to the willpower you need for these task. There is an extra bonus here. Doing the things needed to make a habit of getting a good night's sleep will enhance the self-discipline you need to apply your willpower.
7. Strengthen Your Body & Mind: There is a thing called the "Mind Body Connection". Your willpower is derived directly from the strengths of your mind and body. Those week of body and mind most often are also week of will. Those who are strongest in both body and mind develop the will to overcome all challenges. The most amazing athletes know this and plan for it. Most sports enthusiasts and athletes have a "fitness plan" for improving their physical state. The best athletes also have a plan that addresses their entire life. ...Make a whole life plan now.
The best of the best also get help with their plans from "coaches". These "coaches" address specialized areas of life (fitness, family, spirituality, education, etc.). Think about that ...Everyone is familiar with how a fitness coach can help. But coaches can help in every aspect of our life. You wouldn't call a rabbi, pastor, teacher, financial adviser, drill instructor, etc. "Coach", but isn't that what he/she is? Get coaching in all aspects of life. If you achieve a balanced life, you will become exceptional in every area you focus the lens of your willpower on.
The seven steps above are the ones I though most helpful. There are many more for you take. If you have ideas/wisdom on willpower, I urge you to share it with others by commenting on this post. When we share theses things, our wills become the inspiration for other wills. That energy feeds itself like nuclear engine of our sun. Also, I urge you to share this post with others. Tweet it, post it on your wall, print it and mail it. Heck, rewrite it in your own words to make it better. Just be sure to pass it on.
Until next time,