“Stay strong!” “You can do it!” “Don’t give in!” “Keep the faith!” “Stay the course!”
Many times when we begin the pursuit of a worthy goal such as losing weight, stopping smoking, saving money for a specific reason or getting into shape, we very quickly come to the crossroads of temptation and will power.
It’s at this intersection where we find ourselves face to face with the desires that drive us toward our “wants” and where our resolve to adhere to our goal or plan becomes tested. And that’s when we have the proverbial angel on our right shoulder and the devil on our left shoulder. The angel is encouraging us to stay strong, reminding us that we can do it and not to give in. And then that little devil on the opposite side pushes us and nudges us and whispers in our ear that “It’s OK, one donut won’t hurt, go ahead take a bite, you can start again tomorrow!”
Will power is easy for some and harder for others. Typically, people with strong will power are very goal oriented and results driven. When they set their sights on a target, there is not much that they will let stand in their way once they commit themselves and begin their quest toward that goal.
However, there are many more of us who struggle with will power. The thoughts or ideas of pursuing a worthwhile goal come easily enough as we really do want to make a change or difference in our health, in a struggling relationship or in attempting to quit a bad habit. And sometimes we want these things so badly we jump in eagerly toward the “fix” that we blow right by the planning and expectations phase and forget how important it is to set realistic milestones where we can measure our success along the way.
Commitment is a big word when it comes to will power. And in order to be committed and dedicated to that which we are pursuing, we have to be able to have a plan, see what victory or success looks like and manage our expectations along the way. It’s like the person who is not in very good physical condition and wakes up one day and decides they will begin working out immediately that morning. Instead of going in with a plan that starts slowly and builds their muscle strength and endurance up, they rush right in and do as much as possible on Day 1. I applaud the initiative, but then Day 2 happens and the person wakes up so sore and in so much pain that they can’t go back to the gym for days. Days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months, and you know the rest of the story.
Will power is one of those terms that is easy to say, sounds good and even feels good when we say it. It is so easy for others to use as a statement of hope and encouragement. But at the end of the day, will power is a very personal thing. We have to want to make the changes in our lives more than any other person. We sure do appreciate their love, support, concern and encouragement, however as the old saying goes, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me!”
To strengthen our will power or resolve for the achievement of our goals, we must first make sure we understand the “why” behind the goal, that it is in alignment with our truest beliefs and values, that we can commit to the actions necessary, that we have a support team, family member, friend or coach that can help us when needed, and that we define what success looks like along the way. And that last one may very well be the most important. Too often we get caught in the trap of wanting to achieve our goal without putting in the effort or hard work necessary to complete it or see it through, expecting immediate success or change.
Will power is the ability to say “no” to the things we know that can detract us from our goals or mission, and saying “yes” to the things that are harder but lead to the results we desire. Zig Ziglar used to remind me all the time that, “We don’t pay the price for success, we enjoy the benefits of our hard work.”
How are you doing when it comes to will power? Are you paying the price or enjoying the benefits? I would love to hear all about it at firstname.lastname@example.org, and when we learn how to manage our will power, it really will be a better than good week.
Michael Norton is a strategic consultant, business and personal coach and motivational speaker, and CEO of www.candogo.com. He writes weekly for the Vail Daily.