WILLPOWER – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

“Willpower isn’t just a skill. It’s a muscle, like the muscles in your arms or legs, and it gets tired as it works harder, so there’s less power left over for other things.” Charles Duhigg

FIVE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT WILLPOWER

Almost every New Year’s Resolution ends in failure because people don’t understand the nature of habits, willpower, or how to improve them. People make a list of things they will do, lose weight, drink less, exercise more, reduce their credit card debt, and stop smoking.

They will look at their list and blame their lack of willpower when they should blame their list and their lack of focus. Our willpower is severely limited, and every demand for self-restraint draws from a single source. No one has enough willpower for that list. Sometimes a single willpower challenge will feel like one demand too many. “The man who chases two rabbits catches neither.” Confucius

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DON’T OVERESTIMATE YOUR RESOLVE – BECOME A REALISTIC OPTIMIST

“Research shows that people who think they have the most willpower are actually the most likely to lose control when tempted. For example, smokers who are the most optimistic about their ability to resist temptation are the most likely to relapse four months later, and overoptimistic dieters are the least likely to lose weight. Why? They fail to predict when, where, and why they will give in. They expose themselves to more temptation,” Kelly McGonigal.

One of the most potent strategies for reaching a goal is to identify the obstacles ahead of time and develop a plan to address each before they are encountered. We want to be optimistic, but we don’t want to be a naive optimists. The naive optimist ignores the obstacles in their way and believes that they will not confront any challenges. The realistic optimist believes in their ability to accomplish their goal despite the obstacles in their way. They acknowledge and prepare for the challenges, which makes them much more likely to succeed. We want to have faith in our ability to overcome obstacles, not naively believe we won’t encounter them.

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USE THE REFUSAL FRAMEWORK TO REINFORCE YOUR IDENTITY

“A powerful agent is the right word. Whenever we come upon one of those intensely right words in a book or newspaper, the resulting effect is physical as well as spiritual, and electrically prompt.” -Mark Twain

Have you ever told someone you can’t have a piece of cake because you’re on a diet or can’t go to lunch because you must go to the gym? If you answered in the affirmative to either of these questions, you are probably patting yourself on the back, but what if I told you that the language used in these examples is weak? Confused? Don’t be.

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WHY HABITS CAN BE DIFFICULT TO CHANGE – BUT DON’T HAVE TO BE

“Most people are in favor of change, as long as they can continue to do things the same as they always have.”

-Bill Phillips

What you are going to learn:

  1. Why Habits are so powerful and potentially dangerous
  2. The four components of the habit loop
  3. How a better understanding of habits can help us improve them
  4. Why it is a mistake to blame our willpower

Change is difficult, but we are all capable of change. Our lives are continually changing, learning to drive, marriage, babies, new job responsibilities, and new technological tools. Initiation is the most challenging phase because it is mentally exhausting. Learning a new skill requires our cerebral cortex to do the heavy lifting, but as the new task becomes routine, the more resilient basal ganglia take over. The action becomes easier and easier. Our conscious brain goes on autopilot, and our actions flow. You undoubtedly experienced this when you were learning to drive. In the beginning, it required your total concentration, but now you can drive, adjust the cabin temperature, tune the radio, and carry on a conversation.

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