Why willpower doesn’t cut it. How you can have the life you want…
In this blog I explore the limitations of willpower. Then I talk about the things that are really necessary not just to have the kind of year, but more importantly the kind of life you want.
I learnt hard work as a value from my mum. She never felt good enough in her life, and her way to find acceptance or acknowledgement for herself or from others was to get her head down and work hard. It left me with the idea that you can achieve whatever you want by simply applying yourself and getting on.
To some extent if you have that mindset you can. Grit and determination can get you a pretty long way. You can certainly create some short term wins. I know for myself that when I am in that drive mode I can feel pretty good.
So perhaps you are one of the seemingly lucky ones who has what society refers to as a ‘strong mindset’. You can make a decision, get on to the work, power through and achieve results. There is however a catch.
Drive, willpower, determination isn’t sustainable in the long run. My experience and that of so many people I see around me is that eventually, one day you wake up exhausted, depleted and lacking willpower. If like me you get off on ‘drive’ then you might also feel useless, a failure, pretty rubbish. At that point you might question everything that you have achieved.
Having read the above, you may feel really lucky that you are not like that at all. You don’t have any desire to power through or take on the world. Perhaps you feel like you would never succeed anyway so what is the point in starting? And if you are happy with everything in your life then rockon. However if there are things that aren’t working for you I am here to tell you that there is a way other than the willpower route.
We are sold on the ‘You can do it, make a plan and stick to it model’ because it is appealing to think that there is a quick fix that you can achieve in a few weeks that will create everything you want. We have got used to instant gratification and we are conditioned to desire an instagram worthy life. We are sold that it is as simple as making a decision and sticking to it.
That may be true for a while, but not true for the long term. There is research that tells us that willpower is finite. There is way too much going on in all our lives to rely on willpower as a way to create significant lasting change. AND the results can leave us empty and unfulfilled.
In our moments of struggle and doubt we need habits, tools and support to make the decisions that serve us. We need to be present and aware of our needs. We need to know why we want to change, we need to create habits that make it easy as well as simple. We need to be prepared to be human, to fall off. Life is messy and painful, nobbly, smooth, joyful, happy, fun, hard, worth it. There are things we can’t change and things not worth arguing with. Often the simplest things make the biggest difference. It is nuanced. There is no quick fix, willpower won’t cut it for long, but you can certainly create a life you enjoy and have a lot of fun on the way.
If you would like to join our supportive community and find a longer lasting way to create a life that works for you, a life that you love without having to put on your strong suit and power through until you fall over. Then come and join Fresh Air Fridays Facebook group. Starting the 17th January we will be holding a ‘Feel Good, Work Well Week’ where you will get an introduction to how we live our lives and navigate this messiness of being human.