Writing that memo, conducting employee reviews, returning client phone calls, getting a workout in – your list of your daily obligations goes on and on. Your daily demands can make you feel abandoned and alone. Are you aware that you can call upon a trusted assistant that is always by your side and ready to help? You can. It’s your will.
Your will is your strong internal determination and self control to do something difficult. This valuable assistant is your most important ally to complete projects and accomplish important goals. Engaging the power of your will, and your resolve is an elusive concept. It’s just easier to use the excuse of “But I just don’t have enough willpower” to stay committed to a long term project, lose weight or whatever else is on your list. When your will is harnessed and strengthened, you can summon the wise, helpful part of yourself to accomplish whatever you desire.
Your willpower fizzles when your energy is depleted. Notice that it is almost impossible to resist a favorite comfort food when you are experiencing extreme amounts of stress, feeling frustrated or under deadline to complete a project.
Research from my alma mater, Florida State University, indicates that we only have one reservoir of self-control or willpower. All of the stressors in our life draw on the same supply of “I will” energy.
If you deplete your willpower during a grinding commute, managing unrealistic deadlines at work or dealing with difficult co-workers or clients, you will have nothing left at the end of the day to resist that second helping of rocky road ice cream while watching “Lethal Weapon 3” reruns.
Like a muscle, your will needs to be exercised and renewed to grow stronger. The following are strategies to strengthen your will to succeed:
• Keep your focus and know what you really want. Focus on one project at a time and prioritize what you really want. Peak performance experts recommend working intensely for 90 minutes and then taking a 15 minute activity or stretch break to re energize your mind and body. Make a commitment to yourself to stay focused for the entire 90 minutes with a reward at the end of dedicated work period. Close your office door or put up a sign to notify co-workers that this is your “focus time” and to not disturb you unless there is a genuine emergency. Work intently on your projects. They are really important to you and may make a difference in the world. Use your will to turn a goal into a cause and then a movement.
• Use past successes and failures to inform the present. “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work,” Thomas Edison said. Do not dwell on your past failures. Use your past experiences as instructions on what not to do instead of as predictor of your destiny. Build on the axiom that “success begets more success.” By setting crystal-clear goals and monitoring your progress you become more self aware and have more control. Essentially, play offense rather than defense.
• Know your limits. I know that if I work too long without a break, I develop a sudden urge to bake brownies. I use rewards, delayed gratification and self-bargaining as strategies for keeping my commitments to myself. So instead of succumbing to a quick sugar fix on an impulse, I keep plenty of healthy, fresh fruits and vegetables in sight and the brownie recipes tucked away and out of reach.
• Remember to use the HALT strategy. Your willpower will fade if you allow yourself to be too Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. Eat small, protein rich meals and snacks regularly throughout the day to regulate your blood sugar. You need energy to strengthen your resolve and your brain needs glucose to function properly. Without adequate rest and rejuvenation, your will to succeed will be as strong as a wet noodle and the fettuccine Alfredo on the lunchtime menus will call your name.
• Surround yourself with like minded people. Your circle of influence is very powerful and compelling. If your pledge is to become a non-smoker, release excess weight, start a new business or do anything that requires a strong will, you need supporters that are going in a similar direction. Your associations are a very powerful force and a strong predictor of your success or failure. Make public declarations about your commitments with deadlines and ask for help along the way. It takes courage to make requests of people, so don’t be afraid to ask for what you want (and what you do not want) in order to be successful. No one can do it all alone.
Set yourself up for success. “I can resist everything except temptation,” said Oscar Wilde. I have always been fascinated by how athletes can muster up their will to train intensely and perform flawlessly while passing up the temptations along the way. By using meditation, visualization and hypnosis, athletes tap into their conscious and subconscious mind to build willpower, increase concentration and confidence, all traits that lead to success.
To gain the knowledge to help myself and others strengthen their reserves of willpower and confidence, I recently completed the prestigious Heart-Centered Hypnotherapy program from the Wellness Institute in Issaquah, Washington. This advanced mind-body approach reinforces motivation, self-discipline and willpower.
You can strengthen your will to succeed by keeping your focus, being clear about what you really want and setting yourself up for success. Utilize these strategies and you can be more energized, less stressed and create a legacy of success to be proud of.
• Kathleen Caldwell is president of Caldwell Consulting Group and the founder of the WHEE Institute (Wealthy, Healthy, Energetic Edge) of Woodstock. Reach her at www.caldwellconsulting.biz, firstname.lastname@example.org or 815-206-4014.