Oct 052013

Have you ever really wanted to achieve something, started enthusiastically and then given up and abandoned the idea?

You declared confidently that it would not be easy, but you were determined to achieve the desired result this time.

So what went wrong?

obstacle in path

When “hard” obstacles appear in your path, you are faced with a temptation, a desire, to return to the old, more comfortable situation. You doubt whether it’s worth all the effort, and so on, until you surrender. Maybe you decide that you lack that special something, that you don’t have enough willpower. And it becomes a convenient excuse. You say, “I did try but what am I to do? Not everyone has a strong will”.

We think some people are blessed with a strong will from birth. We think willpower is a talent and a privilege, granted only to a special few. We think willpower is typically associated with achieving extremely difficult objectives, unattainable by most people. We associate willpower with great effort, deprivation, iron discipline and even violence. We think great willpower is not for ordinary people. These thoughts are complete nonsense!

man on mountainWhat Actually is Willpower? In Wikipedia, willpower is defined as “the human ability to consciously control his actions, directing them to consciously set goals and to overcome internal and external difficulties and obstacles”. Synonyms for willpower include: desire, aspiration, persistence, determination, commitment, tenacity, perseverance, strong intention, motivation and self-control. Different psychological disciplines describe “will” and “willpower” in various ways. For example, the classical psychoanalysis of Sigmund Freud did not accept the existence of free will as a function of the psyche.

I would equate “will” and “willpower” with one word – determination. Willpower is natural and it is a power that each person possesses.

We do not achieve our goals, because we do not have any will, but because we are not sufficiently motivated, because we are impatient, because we have insufficient self-confidence, et cetera, et cetera. There is an expectation that “you will” (i.e. the future imperative tense) and that this requirement will be linked to superhuman efforts and strict discipline. From the outset, these expectations prepare you for failure. So, the first thing you need to do is:

#1 Change Your Perception of Willpower.

Do not say “I have no willpower” because it is self-indulgent and programmed for failure. Everybody has willpower. It is not a privilege for the chosen. You also have willpower. You just have to exercise it. You can train your willpower by initially setting yourself small, more easily attainable goals and progressing in increasing steps.

#2 Have Motivation.

The most important requirement to achieve anything is motivation. It is the driving force. We’ve all heard stories of people, living in difficult circumstances, who overcame their situation to achieve the impossible and become winners or heroes. They amazed us with their willpower and fortitude. What is the power in these people? What is that iron will? Only strong willpower made it possible for them to achieve success in conditions, unbearable for “normal” healthy people. All these people have motivation and set goals. Knowing why they wanted something helped them to go through all the how of achieving something. This understanding of what we are striving for is the fuel that keeps us going. Write down what you want to achieve and why you want to achieve it. What will bring you the desired result? How badly do you want it? What is motivating you? Write down these things and re-read them frequently. Remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing!

#3 Make a Decision And Stick To It.

Very often, part-way to achieving our objectives, we give up, because of doubts and second thoughts. You might say to yourself “although I think this is correct, maybe there is another way to …”. Stop right there! The decision has been taken. Do not waste time and energy in re-consideration. Do not think about whether it is the right way or not. Just keep going.

#4  Make a Plan

Generally, I do not like to make a lot of plans. However, I am convinced that things will work out okay, when I make a plan that follows my rules and is consistent with my personality. After all, it is always nice to follow your own path and your own personal rules. What is important is that the plan is your natural course of development.

#5 Do Not Make Drastic Changes in Your Life.

It is easy to be too decisive and try to take on too much. For example, “tomorrow I get a new qualification. Tomorrow I will stop smoking. Tomorrow I will start eating healthily. Tomorrow I will start thinking positively. Tomorrow I will start going to the gym. It is good to be eager, but all that is too much to start in one day, or even in a month of Sundays. Inevitably, you will give up or postpone everything indefinitely. So, you need to make a plan that includes a gradual change in lifestyle that prioritizes your targets and that has a schedule to enable you to strive towards them one by one.

#6 Start Slowly With Small Steps.

The most common reason for giving up is that we start trying to do too much too quickly. If you start with a great effort, you will quickly get tired and stop early. The best athletes running a marathon will start slow, stay calm and conserve their energy to last the entire race.

3 kids playing on the beach

#7 Make it a Pleasant, Fun Achievement.

Usually we think that in order to achieve something it requires hard work, endurance and self-denial. Instead, the secret of a strong will is not the effort, patience or constancy. Achieving a goal should be pleasant. You can make it a fun game. Actually, the best and lasting results are achieved on the path of least effort. What you need is just keep going along that path.

#8 Focus on the Process.

Usually we do not see results right away and this discourages us. We say to ourselves: “look, nothing happening, it doesn’t make sense.” This is, because we are focused on the immediate situation and we are constantly seeking evidence that something is happening to justify our efforts. But the more you look for evidence, the more burdensome the process becomes and the more likely you are to give up. Just carry on, focus on the pleasure of the process and it will come true.

#9 Do Not Impose Penalties for “Failures.”

Realize that you are in the course of achieving a sweeping change and an elevation. This is normal. Recognize the potential for adverse mind games. It is amazing how our minds can “cheat” and create unnecessary difficulties and obstacles. Have you ever noticed that when you want something and start to follow the new plan, suddenly everything seems to stand against you and something happens to frustrate you? This is actually your mind playing games with you. Subconsciously we find reasons to go back to the old way of life. Do not punish yourself. Don’t go on the attack. Don’t get harassed. Do not, absolutely do not, feel sorry for yourself! Just at that moment when you’re about to give up, you need support and understanding. And if you do not give it to yourself, who else will? Accept that your resistance is normal, forgive yourself for a moment of weakness and carry on. Punishment is not necessary, you are doing something, and already that is a success. Just continue with what you’re doing.

#10 Do Not Suppress Your Feelings.

As our willpower is associated with endurance and strength, we do not dare to admit to ourselves the fear that we might be confused or frustrated. It is hard to admit that we are scared and that we are tired. These feelings are not a failure or a weakness. Even the greatest heroes were afraid and felt depressed. You have the power to be strong and unafraid, to carry on anyway, to pass through the various stages and again to keep on going.

#11 Enlist Support.

In moments of despair and hesitation, it is very helpful to have positive, motivated people around you. Remember to share your feelings with strong, proactive individuals. They will motivate you. Furthermore, there are many helpful resources online to inspire you and give you strength. Bookmark a few sites that resonate with you, join their community, and spend 15-30 minutes per day to stay connected with like-minded people. This will keep you convinced that you are not alone on this journey! When you achieve what you have striven for, the feeling is amazing. You feel like a winner! Then you can say: “I have faith”. You will have even more confidence in your abilities to achieve other “difficult” things, because you know you have the will. Tell us, do you have your own methods of strengthening your willpower and reaching your goals? What are some achievements you feel truly proud of?

This is a Guest Post from Ashton from Brainwave Love

Ashton finds life’s purpose in helping people reach their full potential, attain their goals, and manifest the life of their dreams. He’s helped many achieve massive breakthroughs and has proven the journey can also be fun and enjoyable. Visit his blog at BrainwaveLove.com to access some of his best free resources or get yourself started with his Complete Change Your Life System.