Part 2 of a 2 Part Series
The One Secret About Willpower You Should Know
The key insight about willpower is to recognize it is situational and based on personal values. It is a mistake to view willpower as some ubiquitous force that permeates every part of our lives. Willpower is nothing more than consistent behavior or action, regardless of your emotional state towards accomplishing a pre-selected goal. Notice I said consistently, not every single month, week, day or hour. You demonstrate willpower by unswervingly staying focused on a particular outcome because you value it.
A personal value is something you are willing to expend energy to move towards. The more you value something, the more you will choose behaviors consistent to achieving that which you value.
Consistent willpower is only possible if we VALUE the result of the behavior or action above other things. We tend to rank our values, most important, second most important and so on. Discovering such ranking is a common process known as values clarification and is directly correlated to the energy level we are willing to expend to achieve an end goal. All values have a relative ranking in our lives and thus our actions. The more you value something, the more energy (read willpower) you are willing to expend in actions to accomplish.
The secret to having willpower on demand is to understand that the source of your willingness to expend energy on an action is found in understanding what your values are and their relative priority. If an action (or the end result of your action) is not valued above other things you will not expend energy to achieve it. If you wish to have more willpower you must rank your objective higher than other goals.
The ancients seemed to understand this link between values and willpower. I found the following verse in the 5th century Hindu Upanishads.
“You are what your deep, driving desire is.
As your deep, driving desire is, so is your will.
As your will is, so is your deed.
As your deed is, so is your destiny.”
This canon tracks the development of willpower in a clean, elegant and profound way. Read it several times and comprehend the flow described. It provides a 1500 year-old recipe for developing willpower selectively if you understand what your “true desire” is. Your true desire will always reflect your higher values. If you don’t highly value something, then why would you want willpower to accomplish it? Think about it.
Desire = Values = Willpower = Actions = Your Destiny
Dr. Ron’s 3 Step Technique for Developing Willpower on Demand
To begin, decide what area you would like to have more willpower in. It could be relationships, exercise, diet, work, time management, golf training or anything else you wish to apply more willpower to.
- Make a list of what you consider your six core values. These are things you currently are most willing to sacrifice your time and energy to achieve. For example your list could look like the following:
- Service to Others/Human Dignity
- Faith in God
Note: If you have trouble identifying your core values, look up Values Clarification on the Internet and you will readily find a variety of lists you can use to stimulate your thinking.
- Rank Order your values list from 1-6, with 1 being the most important to 6 being the least important. Since you only listed six this could take some contemplation, as all of these are important. However, force yourself to list them in priority. A test to see if your prioritization is correct is to honestly assess what you spend the bulk of your time and emotional energy on.
- Get a piece of paper or a 3×5 card and at the top write down the specific objective you want to apply more willpower to. Write down your six values in rank order down the left side. To the right, next to the appropriate value, begin to list all reasons you want to apply willpower to achieving this objective. This process allows us to begin to link our activities and objectives to our values.
As an example, below see the card I prepared to insure willpower in support of my objectives of getting healthier by losing weight and working out regularly. I keep this card on my desk and look at it daily to insure motivation and continued commitment.
OBJECTIVE: My MOTIVATION FOR BEING HEALTHY BY GETTING TO PROPER WEIGHT AND WORKING OUT REGULARLY
- Family – Being around for them, being active, high energy for doing things, setting an example for kids.
- Health – correct blood pressure, sugar levels and cholesterol. Not having to use the aging drugs like blood pressure medicine and cholesterol drugs.
- Self-Actualization – High competence at golf and sport as I age. Having a positive appearance, clothes fit properly, easier to buy. Ego
- Economics – More productive work span, optimum energy available for work.
- Service to Others – To be of help to others you must have the energy.
- Philosophical – Use your share of the planets resources available and no more.
When you have completed this exercise you have a comprehensive and motivating document that powerfully aggregates in your consciousness all the important (based on your most important values) REASONS for achieving your stated objective. Additionally, and most importantly, you have linked these reasons to behaviors and your values. There is nothing more compelling to your psyche as you have now integrated the objective into your top six life values.
The important question to ask at this point is ‘does it work’? The answer is yes, if you follow these recommendations and honestly link the outcomes you desire to your core values. I know of no more powerful way for you to USE YOUR BRAIN FOR A CHANGE.