If you want to master willpower and do the right thing all of the time I have some bad news for you……you can’t.
Or at least not for a long time.
You see, the secret to discipline and “mastering willpower” has a lot more to do with how you set up your environment versus how mentally tough you are. Setting your surroundings up for success ensures that you don’t have to use sheer discipline in order to reach goals.
Here’s how to help yourself succeed.
Create Clear Goals with a Strong “Why”
The only reason to even want to muster up willpower is to achieve a goal. Unfortunately not all goals are created equally.
If you’re chasing after a goal because you think it’s what you need to be doing or are trying to impress someone else, it’s going to be hard for you to stick with it. You need strong goals that are meaningful to you.
Write down the goals you are trying to achieve and then underneath each goal write a paragraph about why you want to achieve the goal. What does the goal mean to you? How will it change your life? How will you feel once you’ve accomplished it?
Answering these questions can give you the power you need to stay strong on hard days.
If you were trying to cut out processed food from your diet and your cabinets were filled with Twinkies, chips, cookies, macaroni and cheese, and whatever else you enjoy but are trying to avoid how would you do? Probably pretty awful. (I know I do anyway.)
What if you had absolutely NO processed food in the house? It’d be much easier for you to avoid those things. In fact after a few days you probably wouldn’t even think about them.
Those people you see eating a mostly clean and healthy diet aren’t surrounding themselves with a bunch of junk. They remove the temptations and after a while eating healthfully becomes second nature. It’s a habit.
In order for you to reach your goals you’ve got to develop strong habits. That process starts by removing all temptations.
If you’re trying to lose weight get rid of the junk food. If you’re trying to eliminate debt cut up your credit cards. If you spend too much money at online retailers set up a block on your computer.
Do whatever you need to do to remove the bad temptations from your life.
Develop the Habit
“A habit is a routine of behavior that is repeated regularly and tends to occur unconsciously.”
Our habits are those things we do each day without even thinking about them. This means the habits we have either make or break us. The real key to accomplishing goals and mastering willpower lies in habit formation.
It’s said to take at least 21 days to form a new habit. (Much longer depending on what habit you’re trying to form.)
In order for you to create the life you want you’ve got to make your desired actions habitual. Your first step in doing this was to remove temptations. The second step is to intentionally track the actions that will bring you closer to your goals until they become second nature.
An easy way to do this is by downloading a habit tracking app on your phone or getting a notebook and recording your activity for at least 21 days or until the habit is formed.
Just be sure that you’re only working on one habit a time or it’s not going to stick.
Accept the Fact That You’re an Imperfect Human-Being (Just Like the Rest of Us!)
It’s easy to feel like you’re lesser of a person than somebody else, especially in today’s environment where you can scroll through someone’s social media feed where they’ve carefully constructed a perfect life in pictures.
The things is, you’re only seeing the good side of the story. There’s not a single person on this planet who does everything right all of the time and who has a perfect life. That’s a total fallacy.
Accept the fact that you, like all the rest of us, are imperfect. You’re going to make mistakes and everything will not go your way 100% of the time.
Don’t use this as an excuse to give up on your goals but instead as a way to give yourself grace when you have an inevitable slip up.