Willpower, Is it a myth?


Does “willpower” seem to elude you?Willpower1

It always seemed to visit me and never stay long. No matter how driven I was at the time or how important the “goal” was that I was striving for. Even as a confessed “super control freak” it seemed to be something that indeed I could not control. That in itself, made it so much more frustrating.

Well, that is where I stop, and think about just how much I dislike the word “willpower”.  It is in the same family as “diet” really.  At different stages of our lives, each and every one of us become obsessed and are either doing a happy dance that we have the “willpower” to change the thing we are working on. Or we find ourselves on the other side of the coin and constantly searching under every rock, log and behind every tree in sight looking for it and becoming totally obsessed that we don’t have it and cannot possibly survive or succeed without it.

Have you ever noticed that usually, the harder you look, the longer it takes you to find it  and then keep it?

I have a theory on this.. hehehe..  of course, otherwise it would make it incredibly difficult to write about !!!

Think about a time you have been trying to reach a goal. Lose weight? Get Fitter. Eat healthier? Stress less? Do better? – you get the picture.  It seems like such a chore to be sooooo good to reach the goal (and usually in the quickest time possible – never ever slowly).

Imagine it like learning to ride a bike.
– Getting started (training wheels time),
– Well on the way (riding solo)
– Totally cocky about how well you are doing so you take your hands off the handle bars (whoops !!! you just know that in reality riding all the time with no hands can only end one way)

Sometimes the battle to keep your willpower actually sabotages the whole program. You lose it and find you talk yourself into giving up. Arriving at the conclusion that you have no willpower.  Right at that point, what does that do to you ??  It sends you further into the arms of the very thing you are trying to “will” yourself away from.

So I ask this …..

If the goal is so important, why after the initial “get into the mode” does

it seem like such hard work and effort to keep on track and get to goal and beyond?

and what is it that you can change to make it more sustainable, comfortable and long term?

Notice that I did not say make it easier ?
– well that is because anything worth doing never has a “quick fix”. Think about what it is you have been trying to change or improve. Did you wake up after one day, one week or one month of doing the “thing” and find you wanted or needed to change it?  Unlikely. Most things we try to change have been lurking about in the background almost undetected for quite a while.  Expecting it to get it sorted quickly usually leads back to where you started.

It takes planning, determination and self belief. Probably the glue for these three things is time.

Notice that I did not use the word willpower.
– I do not want the stereotype meaning of willpower currently in my head when I am working towards anything, not now and not ever. Not anymore. Play on words you say, well maybe but it is totally working for me and continues to work and I cannot dispute it. What is it they say Fail to Plan and you are indeed Planning to Fail. I totally agree with this but, if you do not have the self belief to go with that then any plan can and usually does fall by the side of the road.

It is a vicious circle and it seems like there is totally no escape. You keep trying and you end up in the exact same place again and again and cannot figure out why.  You may even succeed to some level and for a period of time, but you blink and take your eye off the ball and back you go yet again.

If there is something you really need to improve or change first you need to make that decision. Then you need to believe you can achieve it. Then it needs to become a habit. Finally for it to work you have to remind yourself each and every day that you can and indeed are doing it. It may start off as a chore to get it done, but if you have the formula right, as you go along it becomes easier and you don’t have to think about the process too much. If it is clunky, before you lose the desire, you tweak it and keep going.

It sounds so easy, but I know that it is not and sometimes it can be the hardest thing you will tackle. But if you feel the need then it is obviously important. Important enough to try all angles.

So why not give this a go.

I have positive statements around the place, my computer screen, fridge, phone screen, even one in the car on a sticky note just under the radio.

Do they magically give me willpower?

No, not at all, but they remind me over and over and over again that I can do it.
They help me to accept that what I am doing is not a follow the bouncing ball and even if following a plan it can be and should be personalised to suit you.

As you continue to read your notes, your mind begins to understand and accept that life is not perfect and you cannot possibly be perfect at reaching your goal without twists and turns and that it is ok to deviate for just a little bit..

Bonus is the more you read, the more you believe and when you fall over (which we all do – hands up anyone who thinks they can reach a goal unscathed!!) getting back onto the path is easier.  It teaches that doing everything at once if you can is awesome but lots of times you must just take a small step and celebrate that victory as it raises your confidence. Before you know it, you are finding it easier and you are moving towards your goal.

Taking my weight management as an example. The biggest secret I have learned after all these years and all these attempts at health and well being.  I thought that a “number” was my goal.  and yes, I still use the numbers as a guide but it is so much more than that..

If you reach goal and it is all you have been focused on for the whole time then you are already fighting an uphill battle. You see, the goal is the end – OH NOOOO the end..  you mind immediately goes into the “what now syndrome”. It has lost focus. The numbers have been taken away and you find you feel good, look good and you did it and no longer need to worry.. This is the same with many goals that we make. Just look at the New Year’s Resolutions.  The rate they are buried is staggering.

No planning, no determination and no self belief –

Doomed to fail and start the cycle again and again

The fact is that the goal is just the beginning and getting there is only part of the fun. It is actually the maintenance and the life you lead to keep it in check that is what you are really looking for. Being aware that it is a lifelong challenge, not just a race to a number.

Everyone is different, it can be trial and error and with my health and well being, I have tried lots of stuff and I always almost got there and then sabotaged myself, every single time.  Find things that are comfortable for you. Get help if you think you need it – a buddy to speak to and keep you motivated. Tweak whatever you do to suit your lifestyle because when any bells and whistles you may be using are long gone it is just you and a sustainable lifestyle that is the difference between maintenance and having to start over again.  If you start something (and you have given it a while to get used to the new thoughts and actions) and it still feels like a stressful thing then keep looking. It can be challenging and sometimes hard but should not feel like that all the time. For example, if you are changing your eating habits and you severely restrict your food intake and variety or take up an exercise that you really hate just to get fitter, then you will not continue with it in the long term.light at the end of the tunnel

Find a happy medium that you can be comfortable with but accountable for.  At the end of the day, if you cannot sort it out and do this for life who are you cheating ?  Just you and only you.

For the first time in my life, I feel like I am on the right path. I am good with my theory and it is slowly getting me there. It is all part of the bigger picture and look…. there…. it is the light at the end of the tunnel

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4 thoughts on “Willpower, Is it a myth?

  1. Wise words Sharon and how true – we humans are after all ‘human’. The failure rate of our goals comes when we try to do too much at one time doesnt it. If a small single commitment can be made on a daily basis to become ‘a habit’ (even for 5 minutes in that day) then thats all is needed to feel some sense of accomplishment and ‘like’ yourself – on the way to the much elusive ‘loving yourself’.
    In wellness and love, CiCi

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