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Where Does Willpower Come From?
Willpower is the self-discipline required to maintain a commitment to our goals. Without it, we can’t achieve much. It impacts every aspect of our lives. The more we develop our capacity to control our impulses, the more progress we make toward our goals. No wonder the idea of willpower draws so much attention.
At its essence, willpower is a clash between two desires —short-term temptation and long-term satisfaction. When our willpower increases, we have a renewed ability to override less beneficial feelings, thoughts, and impulses and hold off instant gratification in order to achieve our long-term goals.
Developing willpower skills is at the heart of success and the recipe to do so is no longer arcane.
Willpower is more about saying Yes than it is about saying No. The first step in enhancing willpower is to know exactly what long-term goal you want to achieve. The more specific, the better. Anything that reminds us of this goal is a plus. Photos, charts, quotations, illustrations, and depictions of the end goal work to keep the goal ever-present.
The next step is to think small by identifying the micro-steps required to reach the goal.
During the most grueling stage of an endurance race, marathon runners, for example, often pick out a small landmark and push themselves to reach it. They then pick the next monument and make that the desired goal. They repeat this until they pass the stage where they’re not sure they can continue.
The lesson is clear. We don’t find willpower. We create it through repetition by achieving micro-steps. This is a skill that can be developed through practice. The key is to have the utmost clarity about the long-term goal and the micro-goals that will get us there.
Saying Yes to the next atomic goal is a lot easier than saying No to the next temptation. A commitment to take the next step is all you need.