How to Develop Willpower
Story : From Flames to Records - The Unyielding Journey of Glenn Cunningham
Every morning, a young boy arrived early at school to kindle the fire in the pot-bellied coal stove, warming the classroom. One fateful day, his classmates found the school engulfed in flames. They rescued the unconscious boy and rushed him to the nearby county hospital.
The fire ravaged his lower body, leaving his muscles burned and his survival uncertain. The doctor spoke to his mother, revealing the slim chances of living and the possibility of a life as an amputee.
Driven by a will to live, the boy defied the odds and survived. Yet, he realized that he had lost all mobility below his waist.
Confined to a wheelchair by day and a bed by night, he defied his limitations one sunny morning. Dragging himself across the grassy lawn, he grasped the picket fence for support and lifted himself. Through relentless effort, he began to reawaken his lifeless legs.
From dragging to limping, walking to running, he rediscovered the exhilaration of using legs. During his school days, he witnessed his sprinting prowess. At 12, he surpassed high-school athletes and secured a spot on the school track team. With each practice, he shattered records.
On June 16, 1934, Glenn Cunningham achieved an unforgettable feat, completing the mile in 4 minutes and 6.8 seconds, breaking the world record. He would forever be remembered as the Iron Man of Kansas.
His story epitomizes resilience and joy. With unwavering determination, he transformed the toughest of obstacles into mere stepping stones along his path. To delve deeper into his remarkable journey, you can explore his book, Never Quit.
(Image Source : Kansas Historical Society)
Have you ever wondered how to enhance your willpower and accomplish your goals more quickly? Willpower is a crucial mental resource that allows us to stay focused, overcome obstacles, and achieve our desired outcomes. In the realm of mental health, experts have shared valuable insights on how to cultivate and strengthen our willpower. Their opinions provide a roadmap to harnessing our inner drive and staying motivated.
In this article, we will explore diverse expert opinions on enhancing willpower and delve into practical strategies to help us navigate our challenges. These experts bring unique perspectives, drawing from their experiences and knowledge of mental health. Their insights shed light on various aspects of willpower, including goal setting, stress management, self-discipline, and the power of habits.
“To enhance your willpower, you must work towards a meaningful goal. If the goal is optional, then the amount of willpower in the world will get you there.
If you have a goal that you don’t want, you will give up before too long. Two, you will reach the goal, but the journey is exhausting and unenjoyable. Life is too short to live in either of those states. Hence, aim for something you want!
Once you’ve chosen a goal you want to work towards, the following steps are to discover the WHY behind the goal. Understanding the WHY will keep you motivated. Follow these steps:
Write down your goal on a piece of paper.
Under the goal, write down why you want that goal. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, then the ‘why’ under it might be to have a healthier body.
On the following line, write why you want that. I want a healthier body because I will experience fewer aches & pains or I will have more energy.
Then indicate why you want that. For example, I want more energy because I will move around more and have a better mind when I’m active.
Again, ask yourself why you want that. The answer might be that I want a better state of mind because I’m tired of feeling sad, and I want to feel happier more often.
Once you have drilled down four times by asking why, ask yourself, “What will achieving this goal help me FEEL?” Using the example above, the answer might be I will feel happier more often when I achieve this goal! It will help me feel more energetic and have an overall better state of mind.
Knowing how it will feel when you achieve your goal is a substantial motivating factor. Picture yourself achieving your goal and pay attention to how it will feel when you achieve it. Remember these two things, and you will have the willpower to succeed.”
" Manage stress levels: Focusing on the breath, mindfulness practices such as meditation when we feel increasing stress levels.
Lead a more active lifestyle: Exercise can build resilience to stress and boost willpower, whether regular physical exercises such as cardio work or more gentle like yoga or Thai chi.
Eat healthily: A healthy, well-balanced nutritional diet keeps us energized and active.
Avoid taking on too much at once: taking on any challenge in parts is more advisable, and schedule a realistic time frame that does not burn you out.
Avoid limiting yourself based on limited beliefs or past failures: Rather, focus on the now and rise to the occasion.
Lack of sleep can lead to a depletion in mental awareness and energy levels: ensure you have a regular sleep pattern."
“What makes the person effective is Will + Skill.
If you are skillful, you have all the necessary knowledge and awareness to do things. If you have a Will, that means you have the desire to do.
The absence of one will lead to procrastination- complaining - blame games.
Lack of skill can be trained as you can attend workshops etc.
However, a lack of Will can come from fear of the unknown and fear of making decisions. To develop willpower is to ask Yourself whenever you feel stuck.
What do I want? Do I want it? How do I know I want it? What do I need to do now to achieve it?
Skill questions can be:
What knowledge do I have to achieve it? What resources do I have to achieve it?
Once it is done, avoid getting caught in the blame game of Why I cannot do it?”
“Willpower is not limitless, and the more you a called to exercise it throughout your day, the more challenging it gets, so forming a powerful habit of doing the hard things at the start of the day is a must, firstly because it’s when your willpower is at its highest, and secondly when something is a habit it takes less willpower leaving more for the challenges arise throughout your day.
One thing not to do is place yourself unnecessarily in situations where you are likely to give in; for example, if you are addicted to donuts and try to work on your laptop next to Kristy Kreams on an empty stomach, you’ll likely fail, and the more you give in, the more disheartening it is and the weaker your willpower becomes. Always start by setting yourself small challenges you can win, and like growing a muscle, as your willpower grows, you can take on more significant challenges.”
“Meditation— Research shows that after just 2-3 days of practicing meditation for 10 minutes, your brain will be able to focus better, have more energy, and be less stressed.
Use Your Opposite Hand— One that worked particularly well was to use your opposite hand. Your brain is wired to use your dominant hand, so it takes willpower to use the opposite.
Be More Mindful of Your Automatic Decisions— To get started, try to catch yourself in an automatic behavior and ask yourself why you are doing it.
Pick a task daily— Let loose your comfort zone & practice task building physical/ mental.”
“We can enhance our willpower by rewarding ourselves at intervals after performing a task or reaching a goal we had visualized earlier. We have to work on goal setting and be optimistic.
We don’t have to criticize ourselves and not be over-ambitious. Step-by-step progress is essential for improvement. Will power doesn’t happen suddenly; it is a process of patience.”
“Slow down to become present to make meaningful and best choices and set solid and purposeful intentions in any area of life. This creates your reality of what you want and how best to achieve it.
Don’t be undisciplined and indecisive in choices and intentions as they dilute the strength of determination and certainty of achievement.”
“To increase willpower, connect with why you are doing this task. Clearly understanding exactly how this task will help you and what bad outcomes might happen if you avoid it will make it easy to achieve. The problem occurs when we do tasks because others have told us to, or we think we “should,” but we don’t understand the direct cause-and-effect benefit of doing the task. We can feel like, “I know I should do this, but I just don’t want to,” and then endlessly procrastinate.
For example, a family member may tell you to clean your house. You don’t want to bother and feel resentment and annoyance when you think about cleaning. However, if you think it through and list all the benefits for yourself of having a clean house– perhaps getting to enjoy your own house fully, having others over for dinner or parties, not being embarrassed if a friend drops by unexpectedly – as well as the possible bad outcomes for keeping things a mess: mold growing on dishes, attracting bugs and having to pay for an exterminator, not being able to find essential items, it will be easy to see how this benefits you directly, regardless of the opinions of others.
When you feel a clear connection with a good outcome for yourself and avoid bad outcomes, it’s elementary to do that cleaning. The same applies to work, starting a business, friendships, and relationships. We still need to think about the cause-and-effect outcomes of various actions, making it hard to find motivation.
Another example is, let’s say you run a small business and do the cleaning yourself in the office because you are still struggling financially. You know you should empty your trash can full of papers at the end of the day, but you feel lazy and don’t want to. You let the bin overflow, and your employees notice this and don’t empty their trash cans either. Then, a potential investor shows up one day and notices the overflowing bins while on an office tour. The investor wonders if the business could be run better since they need more time to empty their trash cans and questions if there are workflow problems. They decide not to invest.
This is just one example of a bad possible outcome. Keeping these possibilities in mind makes it much easier to find the motivation to empty all trash bins. On the flip side, if the office is sparkling clean when potential investors or clients drop by, they will likely get a positive impression and be more likely to want to work together.
The excitement of growing the business (and no longer struggling financially) can motivate you to do this otherwise tedious task that seems unimportant and mundane.
I used the cleaning example above, but the same is true for any task. Whether it is an Excel spreadsheet for a business you are building that you are putting off, proofreading an essay for school, running errands, keeping a promise to a friend or family member, researching recipes to start cooking healthy meals or exercising. In any area of your life, a tedious task becomes essential and meaningful the minute you understand the potential benefits to yourself and the potential bad outcomes you want to avoid.”
“Realise there is no need for willpower if you focus on the identity associated with whatever you are trying to do. For example, I tried to use willpower for 17 years to lose my excess weight but failed miserably. When I stepped into the identity of the Lean, Strong 45-year-old man. I lost 16 kg in 16 weeks and NEVER looked back. It was more than 4 years back.
Don’t focus on behavioral changes. It would be superficial, and it would be like an elastic. It will return to the older style when the external or internal motivation disappears.”
“Here’s what I would say about having better willpower:
Don’t rely solely on willpower to achieve your goals. There will be days when you won’t “feel like it,” you’re tired, or have too much stress.
To support your goals when you don’t have willpower, make sure you have physical and mental environments that support you when you are struggling.
✅ do you have good habits that you do automatically no matter what?
✅ do you take the time to look at how you think about a goal and whether those thoughts support that goal?
✅ do you have people in your life that cheer you on?
✅ are your notifications turned “off” when trying to complete a project?”
That’s all in this edition.
In conclusion, enhancing willpower requires a multifaceted approach that combines meaningful goal setting, stress management, healthy habits, self-reflection, and environmental support. By implementing these strategies, individuals can improve their self-discipline and motivation and ultimately achieve their desired outcomes.
Further reading on Will Power
If you liked reading the article, do share it with folks who would benefit from it.
Want to stay connected? Here’s our twitter.