Finding Inner Strength (Willpower)

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.

Willpower - Lens Used to Focus Energy and Define Us

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.

 7 Steps to Increase Your Willpower

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.

  • When practical and cost-effective, use thought processes, simulations & models to figure out where you might meet failure.
  • When simulations and models are not practical, use reality. Press toward success until failure happens, learn why failure happened, and make changes to get past that failure. Then, press on again.
  • Have a contingency plan. Be ready to work though and around any failures.
  • Never forget, failure is a chance to learn what doesn't work and often teaches or gives you something more important and valuable than your original goal. A thousand theories have been trashed by the amazing discoveries we find in what we call knowledge today.

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.

  • Our moods take a big hit when things go poorly. People like you stop your mood's fall quickly and yank you right out misery's hands.
  • Inversely, our we get a great lift out of good times. These people will celebrate and revel in successes (small and large) with you.

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.

  • Avoid the simple sugars (juice, candy, confections, and fatty meats). Instead, go for the energy foods that have their sugars bound in a complex chemical form (potatoes, fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts).
  • Graze on small amounts of healthy foods between meals. Keep a ready store of raisins, celery, carrots, unsalted nuts, apples, and other non processed foods.
  • Drink two glasses of water before every full meal. Your body needs this water to work.
  • If none of this makes sense, take a quick course on nutrition.

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.

Your Newest Mission:

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,
@Seth Haigh

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Comment by Seth Haigh on September 24, 2012 at 8:12am
Jen, Thank you for the positive feedback.

Group Leader
Comment by Jen McDonough "The Iron Jen" on September 24, 2012 at 12:30am

Seth, love how you lay these steps out. #1 remove the choice and #4 seek like minded people are my favorites. 

Live Beyond Awesome
Jen McDonough
Twitter: @TheIronJen

Comment by Ann Musico on September 19, 2012 at 5:35am

Excellent steps and I happen to agree that "will" is very important and many times neglected.  I talk about addressing spirit, soul and body in my coaching and since the soul is mind, will and emotions - detoxing, nourishing, exercising and rebooting the will is critical. 

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