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The Key To Reaching Your Goals: Willpower And Planning

The Key To Reaching Your Goals: Willpower And Planning

Most of us have goals. Our goals should be the reason we wake up in the morning and do the things we do. How many times have you written down goals and promised yourself to stick to reaching them? You find yourself succeeding for the first week or two (exceptional cases would be a month) and then you lose track of the routine, slide back into old habits, and three months later have made no real progress. This is a very demotivating cycle in life and we have all been there one too many times. It’s not only encompassed by lack of motivation and discipline, but also by the poor execution of our goal setting.

While most of us focus on the end goal and how little progress we’ve made, rarely do we look into these two important things: willpower and planning

Willpower has been defined as: “control deliberately exerted to do something or to restrain one’s own impulses” (Cambridge). This is often mistaken for motivation. Motivation is the urge or deep desire to do something, will power is following through even under undesirable circumstances.

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The first thing we need to focus on when setting our goals is how much will power are we going to have? This can be hard to determine as we do not know what tomorrow brings. However, we can still exercise our will to our favour.

Exercising your will power

The first step to exercising will power is becoming conscious of the need for will power. Say, hypothetically, your goal was to cut down on the amount of time spent on social media. List down events that will require the will power.

  1. Free time on your hands
  2. Pop ups and notifications
  3. When work is going slow
  4. When you’re avoiding completing a project

These are just random guesses; however, we are able to identify the enemy and fight it off with will. When your become conscious about the need to exercise your will and not just trying to stay motivated, you are better prepared to fight the temptation to give in to distractions.

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The plan

The second part of our goal setting is planning. Numerous studies show the advantages of planning, some have even concluded that just having a plan in place increases your chances of success.

The plan is a map that shows you how to get to the finish line. Once again, using our hypothetical goal of cutting down on social media time,  your end goal could be to spend 30 minutes on Facebook a day and no more. How do you go about achieving this goal if you currently spend 3-4 hours on social media daily? A good way to plan this is first identifying why it matters to you that you achieve this goal?

  1. You could be more productive if you spent less time on social media
  2. Your work wouldn’t pile up
  3. You have more actual free time to just chill without guilt about incomplete work
  4. For your own sanity

These are motivators. Now that you’ve established why it’s important to you, how will you go about achieving this?

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Take it one step at a time

Our biggest mistake is taking giant leaps. Habits are built over time. They don’t happen overnight. A good plan would be writing down a list of important things that need your attention, such as a report that’s overdue or studying for an upcoming exam. When your priorities are in mind and sight you are more willing to work on it and not procrastinate.

Now that you’ve got your plan of action and a list of events that could deter you from your plan, this eliminates blindsides and makes you feel more in control.

Bring it down to bite size chunks

What do we mean by bite size chunks? It simply means, do not bite off more than you can chew. Set realistic and achievable goals. Dreaming of becoming president isn’t unrealistic, but it is unrealistic when you have no political experience, no background in politics, and lack the right skills or expertise to hold such a post. Realistic means something that is achievable within a given time frame.

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To cut down on social media from 4 hours to 30 minutes in one day is unrealistic. A bite size chunk would be turning off notifications and only logging on during tea or lunch breaks. Take it one step at a time.

Keep track

Always keep track of where you are. All too often, people look at the end goal, then look at where they currently are and lose motivation. However, if you look back at where you’ve been, you are able to measure and keep pushing. Maybe you went on social media longer than lunch break on Tuesday. Don’t let that discourage you. Look to your track keeping journal, and you’ll notice you’ve gone from 4 hours to 3.5 hours in two week. Instead of being discouraged, focus on this small victory. Victories trigger positive emotion that makes us believe we can achieve these goals.

Outdo yourself

If you’ve cut down your social media usage by 30 minutes, challenge yourself to cut it down by another 30 minutes over the following weeks, then add another 30 after some time, and so forth. After some time you’ll go down from 4 hours to 30 minutes!

Conclusion

The key to reaching your goal lies within your own will and commitment to becoming a better version of yourself. Reaching your goals also requires setting the right plans in place to achieve them. When you are able to follow these guidelines and stay committed to good habits and proper routine there will be no need for willpower and planning. You will be on autopilot. You can set higher goals and achieve even more. If you are setting goals and failing, you are already on the right track. Having goals in the first place shows that you want to change, grow, and develop. You have been equipped with everything you need to be your absolute best. So when the tough gets going remind yourself why it is important to you.

Goal infographic

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    Kayiba Mpoyi

    Writer by birth

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    Last Updated on September 23, 2020

    5 Reasons for Your Facebook Addiction (and How to Break It)

    5 Reasons for Your Facebook Addiction (and How to Break It)

    Facebook is embedded into lives around the world. We use it to connect with friends, share important milestones, and check in with the news. However, what may seem like harmless scrolling can become harmful if it takes up inordinate amounts of time and turns into a Facebook addiction.

    The first step to breaking any bad habit is to understand the symptoms and psychological triggers that made you pick up the habit in the first place. Below you’ll find the common causes, and the good news is that, once you’ve identified them, you can implement specific strategies to get over your Facebook addiction.

    Symptoms of a Facebook Addiction

    Do you find that the first thing you do when you wake up is grab your phone and scroll through Facebook? Is it the last thing you see before falling asleep? You may have a Facebook addiction. Here are some more of the signs and symptoms[1]:

    • You end up spending hours on Facebook, even when you don’t mean to.
    • You use Facebook to escape problems or change your mood.
    • You go to sleep later because you’re glued to your screen.
    • Your relationships are suffering because you spend more time on your phone than you do talking with the people you care about.
    • You automatically pull out your phone when you have free time.

    You can check out this TED Talk by Tristan Harris to understand how Facebook and other social media gain and hold our attention:

    Psychological Reasons for a Facebook Addiction

    A compulsive Facebook addiction doesn’t come out of nowhere. There are often root causes that push you into Facebook, which can ultimately manifest as an addiction once you become dependent on it. Here are some of the common causes.

    Procrastination

    Facebook can cause procrastination, but many times, your tendency to procrastinate can lead you to scrolling through your Facebook feed.

    Facebook capitalizes on your tendency to procrastinate[2] by incorporating a news feed with an infinite scroll. No matter how far down you go, there will always be more memes and status updates to keep you distracted from whatever you should be doing.

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    Thus, it might be helpful to change your perception of Facebook. Instead of looking at it like a place to be social or kill time, frame Facebook as the enemy of your productivity and purpose. Doesn’t sound as tempting now, right?

    Loneliness or Indecision

    Facebook resembles a boring reality TV show that is on full display during every hour of the day. Do you really need to tell everybody what you ate for lunch? I doubt it.

    You don’t share such trivial details to add value to people’s lives. You’re likely doing it because you’re lonely and in need of attention or approval[3].

    Seeking opinions from your friends could be a sign of indecision or low self-confidence. If you get a bad suggestion, then you can conveniently blame somebody else, thus protecting your ego.

    Social Comparisons

    Social comparison is a natural part of being human[4]. We need to know where we stand in order to judge our rank among our peers. And Facebook has made this all too easy.

    When we get into Facebook, our brains are bombarded by hundreds of people to compare ourselves to. We see our cousin’s amazing vacation to Europe, our friend’s adorable baby, our brother’s new puppy, etc. Everything looks better than what we have because, of course, people are only going to post the best parts.

    This extreme form of social comparison with a Facebook addiction can, unfortunately, lead to depression. One study pointed out that “people feel depressed after spending a great deal of time on Facebook because they feel badly when comparing themselves to others”[5].

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    People-Pleasing

    Facebook takes advantage of your desire for instant gratification[6]. Your brain receives a dopamine hit every time you see that red notification light up. Dopamine is a chemical in your brain that causes you to seek pleasure from things.

    Pleasure sounds nice in theory, but dopamine is responsible for self-destructive behavior if overproduced. Thus, becoming a slave to your notifications can destroy your self-control in a hurry.

    If that wasn’t bad enough, the human desire to be liked and accepted is at play, too. Every time you get a “Like,” your brain decides that means somebody likes you. Keep this up and you’ll turn into an addict desperate for another “hit.”

    Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

    Facebook wrecks your focus by preying on your fear of missing out. You check your Facebook feed during a date because you don’t want to miss any interesting updates. You check your messages while you drive because a friend might have something exciting to share.

    One study found that “a high level of fear of missing out and high narcissism are predictors of Facebook intrusion, while a low level of fear of missing out and high narcissism are related to satisfaction with life”[7].

    Therefore, while you may feel temporarily glad that you didn’t miss something, research shows that FOMO will actually reduce your overall life satisfaction.

    How to Break a Facebook Addiction

    Now that you know some of the causes of a Facebook addiction, you may be ready to break it. If so, follow these 5 steps to get over your addiction and improve your mental health.

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    1. Admit the Addiction

    You can’t fix a problem if you deny it exists. Don’t beat yourself up, but do try and be honest enough to admit you’re a Facebook addict. If it makes you feel any better, I’m a recovering addict myself. There is no reason to be ashamed.

    Telling a trusted friend might help you stay accountable, especially if they share your goal.

    2. Be Mindful of Triggers

    In order to discover the triggers that lead you to use Facebook, ask yourself the following questions. It may be helpful to write them down at a journal.

    • What did I do? (scrolling, sharing, notification checking, etc.)
    • When did I do it? (down-time at work, as soon as you woke up, right before bed, on a date, etc.)
    • What happened right before? (a stressful event, boredom, etc.)
    • How did this make me feel? (stressed, anxious, sad, angry, etc.)

    Once you’re aware of what pushes you to use Facebook, you can work on tackling those specific things to get over your Facebook addiction.

    3. Learn to Recognize the Urge

    Every time you feel the urge to update your status or check your feed, recognize that impulse for what it is (a habitual behavior—NOT a conscious decision). This is especially powerful when you complete step 2 because you’ll be able to make a mental note of the specific psychological trigger at play.

    Have a plan for when you feel the desire to use Facebook. For example, if you know you use it when you’re bored, plan to practice a hobby instead. If you use it when you’re stressed, create a relaxation routine instead of jumping on Facebook.

    4. Practice Self-Compassion

    Facebook is an epic time-suck, but that doesn’t mean you should criticize yourself every time you log-on to your feed. Beating yourself up will make you feel bad about yourself, which will ironically cause you to be even more tempted.

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    Self-loathing can only lead to failure. You might end up deciding it’s hopeless because you are “too lazy.”  If you want to break your addiction for good, then you need to be self-compassionate.

    5. Replace the Addiction With a Positive Alternative

    It’s a lot easier to eliminate a bad habit when you decide on a good habit that you would like to replace it with. I applied this idea by choosing to pick up a book every time I was tempted to check my feed.

    The result blew my mind. I read over a hundred pages in the first day! Trust me when I say those “few minutes of down-time” can add up to an obscene amount of waste.

    Having a specific metric to track is important. If you want to stay encouraged, you need to have compelling evidence that your time would be better spent elsewhere.

    For example, download an app to help you determine exactly how much time is spent on Facebook so you know how much of your life you’re losing to it. Then, when you find a healthy alternative, you can feel good about all the time you’re giving to it!

    Final Thoughts

    Facebook addictions aren’t uncommon in today’s technologically dependent world. In the pursuit of human connection, we’ve mistakenly taken our interactions online, thinking it would be an easier alternative. Unfortunately, this is no replacement for genuine, face-to-face interaction in real life.

    If you think you have a problem, there are things you can do to tackle it. Get started today and improve your overall well-being.

    More on How to Use Social Media Less

    Featured photo credit: Tim Bennett via unsplash.com

    Reference

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