Willpower & motivation don’t last

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing, that’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar

The two terms are obviously interconnected – motivation is your reasons for acting, whereas willpower is you resisting short-term temptations in order to meet your long term goals.

So if you’re struggling with a goal, or simply want to be more successful in achieving it, have a think about…

  • how important the goal is to you. Is this a goal that you’ve set for yourself? Or is it something that you feel obliged to do? Being bought in to the goal is essential if you’re going to truly be successful.
  • have you been really honest with yourself on why it’s important? It’s been suggested that we need to ask ourselves “why” at least 5 times before we truly get to the bottom of our motivations, so do more than scratch the surface when you’re reflecting on this.
  • how clear is the goal? Have you reflected on what success will look like? If you can’t measure progress and therefore celebrate your successes along the way it can be really hard to keep going.
  • does your environment support your goals? If you’re trying to eat more healthily, for example, having cupboards full of junk food and people around you ordering takeaway every day are going to make this way more difficult than it could be. How can you alter your environment to increase your chances of success? Are there others that you can get onboard to support your efforts?
  • connected to this, have you got a back up plan? When life gets in the way (which it inevitably will), what are you going to do instead? E.g. when your boss schedules a last minute zoom that eats up your workout time, have you got a short, kit light alternative you can quickly move to? By thinking about potential barriers in advance and how you might overcome them you’ll be in a much better place to succeed.
  • instead of focusing on what you’re not good at, reflect on the skills you do have and how they might help you with this goal. Think about where you have been successful in the past and what you can build on.
  • whilst willpower is a skill that we can enhance, it is also thought to decline the more we’re forced to use it throughout the day (“willpower depletion”). So if you’re having a difficult day where you’ve continually resisted various urges, you might find that the workout you’d planned at the end of the day is a step too far and you succumb to the chocolate and wine instead. So think ahead to where you’re likely to stumble and see what plans you can put in place to help mitigate this. So in the workout / chocolate example, you could instead:
    • workout earlier in the day when your willpower is higher
    • agree to workout with a friend or pay for a class that commits you / encourages you to do it even if you’re not feeling it
    • put the chocolate and wine out of reach (or get it out of the house completely) so it’s not there to tempt you when your willpower is lower

Have a play around with things that stack the odds in your favour and keep going. YOU CAN DO IT!

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