We have always heard about willpower through this quote: ‘WHERE THERE IS A WILL, THERE IS A WAY’
BUT THIS IS NOT THE COMPLETE TRUTH BECAUSE YOU ARE ‘SOMETIMES DEVOID OF WILL’!!!!
I had always thought that willpower or self-control was some fucking panacea which is unlimited and I can use it anytime as per my wish.
I use to believe that I can make correct decisions whenever I wished to.
But man, I was wrong .
‘ THE ONE THING’
So it all started
When I was reading this bestseller book, ‘ The One Thing’ , I came across the series of chapters where the Authors discussed the LIES and one of them was
‘WILLPOWER IS ALWAYS ON WILL CALL’.
I was quite captivated when I saw this title in the LIES section, and quite contrary to what we believe.
What this mean is that when you want to concentrate in some work ,but your willpower reserves is low, then you can’t focus on your work no matter how hard your try.
Ofcourse you will be able to do work , but not with perfection. It might seem unreal, numerous case studies have backed this truth about self control.
HOW WILLPOWER WORKS.
Willpower IS SIMILAR TO A MUSCLE, Lets understand it with a example:
Suppose you decided to exercise your’ biceps + back’ aka PULL Workout, at 6 pm on Sunday. .
Now just assume that you forgot about your plan and you did a PULL workout on 6 am of Sunday for 1 hour.
The question is can you do the same Pull workout on 6 pm on the same day?
You might say , I am Fucking strong ,I will somehow do 2nd workout , But can you do it as good as the 1st workout?? NO,RIGHT??
CONCLUSIONS FROM THE ANALOGY
The reason we will not be as effective in 2nd workout vis a vis 1st workout since the energy stored in muscle fibers have been used up, and theses muscles take time to recover.
And since we want to exercise again after 12 hours ,which is very less time for the muscles to recover, we cannot perform our best.
SIMILAR is the situation with WILLPOWER.Willpower is like that ‘Muscle ‘ which has Limited ENERGY .
You can’t use willpower whenever you want to. Its not unlimited.
IN OTHER WORDS ,WILLPOWER IS ALWAYS ON WILL CALL IS A LIE.
But similar to a muscle , willpower is renewable resource and when we give proper nutrition to our muscles its strength increases, we can do the same with willpower.
ONE MORE ANALOGY
Think of it like a balloon filled with air. The more we use our mind, its similar to let air go out of the balloon. So the more we use our mind the, more willpower is used, similar to that shrinking balloon.
WTF!! IF I DON’T USE MY MIND, HOW WILL I LIVE??
Very good question. We have to take decisions in every minute of our life . But we can reduce these dilemmas.
How can we reduce such circumstances ?? Solution of this dilemmas are planning before execution, prioritizing life etc. will be discussed at length, First Lets see the importance of willpower.
IF YOU KNOW ABOUT THIS TEST , MOVE ON TO NEXT SECTION. ELSE , ENJOY THIS RESEARCH STORY.
In 1960’s and 70’s ,Professors of Stanford University did the following:
One Marshmallow were kept in front of a kid. They were told, if they don’t eat this marshmallow for 15 min, they would be given one more marshmallow after 15 min.
They were made to sit in a closed room . The kids didn’t knew that they were being recorded.
Obviously some kids were bamboozled by instant gratification and they ate the marshmallow, while some kids got 2 marshmallows as they could wait for 15 min.
But , after 15 – 20 years , what researchers found that most of the kids who had delayed gratification , were doing better in their careers.
‘NEW’ MARSHMALLOWS TESTS
This means willpower plays a big role in our life.
BUT IS IT THE ONLY FACTOR?? ARE THERE OTHER FACTORS WHICH ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR INSTANT GRATIFICATION SHOWN BY KIDS?
So Scientist emulated the same Marshmallow test but this time they took note of family background of kids, their behavior and home ambiance.
Now they concluded that , Self control is not the ‘only’ factor of success. They got to know that kids of poor families,despite passing the marshmallow tests , most of them didn’t do well in their adult life.
BUT , THIS DOES NOT UNDERMINES THE FACT THAT WILLPOWER STILL PLAYS AN IMPERATIVE ROLE ,IF WE WANT TO ACHIEVE OUR GOALS.
You too would have noticed that people who have been successful had the patience to toil for years and work like mad. They had the grit to fall forward even when they failed.
This grit comes from willpower, and no doubt they knowingly or unknowingly executed their work where willpower was taken care of. LETS see how to do it:
HOW TO SAVE WILLPOWER
Now you might be wondering how to use Willpower wisely?? First Lets discuss the process of willpower usage.
For example imagine yourself studying . while you were studying, you hear a notification sound from your cell phone.
Now you resist going towards phone , and you don’t go. This act of resisting temptation takes a part of your of willpower!!! Yeah is True.
What wastes you willpower:From the book ‘The One Thing’
1.implementing new behaviors 2. Filtering distractions 3. 3.Resisting temptations 4.Coping with fear 5.Restraining aggression 6. Trying to impress others
7. Doing something you do’t enjoy 8. Selecting long term over short term rewards
Most of us do these activities and waste our willpower. AND not surprisingly nothing is left for the most important goals.
1. SCHEDULE YOUR DAY
Decide beforehand what all things you would like to do , and allot time . This will help you to resist temptation .
Write all your goals for the day and then allot time for it. This will make sure you stay focused and don’t waste time deciding what needs to be done,decreasing the chances of you getting sucked into distractions.
This is super important as it ritualizes your day and you live by priorities. Do not violate your schedule, do it only during an emergency. By following your schedule you will improve your self control capacity.
2. RENEW YOUR WILLPOWER
As we discussed , ,willpower is renewable so you need to charge it like your smart phone. HOW WILL YOU CHARGE YOUR willpower?
Of Course, by eating regularly. Scientific studies have shown that people who remain hungry for a long time are likely to take wrong decisions.
Eating regularly charges your self control battery , helping you to focus and concentrate.
Eat healthy food every 2 hours and make it a habit. This will help you a lot.
3. DECIDE WHEN YOU WILL TAKE A BREAK FOR DISTRACTIONS
This is very important. If you don’t decide to time block certain time for distractions like social media , games etc.. you will feel tempted to engage in all these things during the whole day.
And as we know , feeling of temptation reduces self control, as the more wee use our mind the more our willpower decreases .
So make sure you don’t get into distractions when you have time blocked for work. Make this a habit and eventually it will be a cakewalk.
4.FIRST THINGS FIRST :90/90/1 rule of Robin Sharma
Start your day with the one most important task and give it at least 90 minutes and follow this for at least 90 days .
This is the 90/90/1 rule. This is good for you since at the starting of the day your willpower reserves are the highest and you are wasting it on your highest priorities !!!
Mediation can improve your DEEP WORK skill and your ability of self control will improve. Meditation will help you to focus in the ‘PRESENT’ and also is highly beneficial for your health.
You must start doing meditation. IT HAS LITANY OF BENEFITS , SO WHAT’S STOPPING YOU??
6. HAVE A PROPER SLEEP
Sleep is so fuckin vital , and it recharges you willpower battery like nothing else!!! Sleeping for 6-7 hours is a must .
Even Billionaires like Jeff Bezos says to sleep at least 6 hours .SO WHY CAN’ T YOU?
7. BETTER EXERCISE AND NUTRITION
Studies have proved time and time again that , Exercise and Healthy diet improve s your prefrontal cortex. Prefrontal cortex is the part of our brain where decisions are compared and executed.
Hence doing strength training, Running and other activities will boost performance of brain ,thereby improving your willpower.