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Protecting Your Willpower To Reach Success


We have been discussing the six lies between you and success based on The ONE Thing principles. Here’s a summary of all six:

1. Everything Matters Equally

2. Multitasking

3. A Disciplined Life

4. Willpower Is Always On Will-Call

5. A Balanced Life

6. Big Is Bad

Over five years ago, I was at an all-time low in my life. I had lost my job, divorced, claimed bankruptcy and was going through a career crisis. To be honest, I just wanted to give up. Rejection after rejection was affecting my will to move forward and overcome all these obstacles. What was wrong with me? Am I a loser? I had no grit. No mental or physical strength to move on.

What I discovered that my willpower was not always there for me. You know the English proverb; “where there is a will there is a way.” I knew that I had to take my inner strength and determination to make myself successful again.

Most of you realize that willpower is important, but many don’t realize how critical it is to our success. The fact is that willpower is not always there ready for us or what The ONE Thing likes to call willpower is not always on will-call.

Willpower is so important that it should be given a high priority in your life. When we have our will, you get your way. Like when we sign up for that gym membership at the beginning of the year and hit the gym 3-4 times per week. Our willpower is on full power. But what happens is our mind gets tired. In The ONE Thing , the author’s talk about; “the more we use our mind, the less minding power we have”. Willpower is like a fast-twitch muscle that gets tired and needs rest. Kathleen Vohs wrote in a 2009 Prevention Magazine article, “Willpower is like gas in your car… when you resist something tempting, you use some up. The more you resist, the emptier your tank gets, until you run out of gas.”

The other important point is what happens when your willpower runs out. The authors of The ONE Thing say we all revert to our default settings. What are your default settings? If you willpower is dragging, will you grab that bag of carrots or bag of chips? Are you up for focusing on the work at hand or down for any distraction that drops in? When your most important work is done while your willpower wanes, default mode will define your level of achievement. Average is often the result.

Here is one of the biggest things I learned, that we must give willpower the time of day. We must realize that willpower will come and go and we will let it do that. Without making an effort to protect it every day, we go from a will and a way to no will and no way. If we want success then this won’t work.

When we resolve the fact that willpower is a resource that gets used up and don’t reserve it for things that matter most, then we are setting ourselves up for the toughest path of success.

So in order to put willpower at its full potential we must protect it. Pay attention to it. Respect it. I like this quote from The ONE Thing; “You make what matter’s most a priority when your willpower is its highest.” In other words give it the time of day it deserves.

Here are some things that taxes your willpower:

  • Implementing new behaviours
  • Filtering distractions
  • Resisting temptation
  • Suppressing emotions
  • Retraining aggression
  • Suppressing impulses
  • Taking tests
  • Trying to impress others
  • Coping with fear
  • Doing something you don’t enjoy
  • Selecting long-term over short-term rewards

So you need to manage your willpower at full strength so that you make sure you are doing the right things. Then you need to enough will power the rest of the day to either support or avoid sabotaging what you have done. That’s all the willpower you need to be successful.

BIG IDEAS on doing The ONE Thing right:

1. Don’t spread your willpower too thin. Decide what matters most and reserve your willpower for that.

2. Monitor your fuel gauge. Never let what matters most be compromised because you have low willpower. Also eat right and regularly.

3. Time your task. Do what matters most at the start of the day. Maximum strength willpower means maximum success.

Don’t fight your willpower. Use it first on what matters most and you can always count on it. Protect it and you are well on your way to reaching  your full potential.

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