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Willpower Has Been Overrated, This Is What You Need Instead To Succeed

Willpower Has Been Overrated, This Is What You Need Instead To Succeed

Willpower can be described as the ability to control or reject desires to indulge in harmful and useless habits. It also allows people to arrive at decisions and then follow them through with perseverance until success has been achieved. Additionally, willpower can help us delay gratification, which as humans, we’re hard-wired to want instantly.

To give you a concrete example of willpower, just think of school. Students need willpower to self-control themselves to maintain attention in class, and to avoid breaking school rules in order to be seen as a good student.

    In our modern age, willpower has become known as an important element in success. By has it always been this way?

    How We Came to Believe That Willpower Leads to Success

      In ancient times we didn’t need willpower, instead, we followed our natural instincts to survive.

      However, as civilization evolved, humans wanted to put things in order. We started to create rules for people to follow. And only by following these rules could someone get what they want, and survive in a modern society. Because of these rules, we started to make self-discipline a virtue.

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      In the late 1960s and early 1970s, a marshmallow experiment proved willpower was the key to success.[1] The Stanford marshmallow experiment was a series of studies on delayed gratification led by psychologist Walter Mischel, then a professor at Stanford University. The study was simple but revealing. It tested children on a choice between the following rewards:

      1. Immediately being able to eat a marshmallow.
      2. Waiting 20 minutes and then being able to eat two marshmallows.

      The results of the study were fascinating. Children who were able to wait for the double reward, typically fared better in later life than those children who took the instant gratification route.

      Because of this famous study, more emphasis began to be put on the benefits of strengthening willpower.

      Nowadays, it’s fair to say that willpower controls a lot of what we do – as we see it as something critical to reaching goals and achieving things. And it’s not just about I want power, but also about I will, and I won’t.[2]

      Willpower training has also become big business. There’s countless workshops, online seminars as well as best-selling books such as Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength and The Willpower Instinct.

      Try searching for “willpower boost” on Google, and you’ll find thousands of results for articles that purport to show you the ways to do it.

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      The Limited Power of Willpower

        However, most people’s willpower remains weak. Some of the reasons for this are:

        • Emotions – which can affect our motivation levels.
        • Our physical condition – are you getting enough sleep? (For example.)
        • Previous failures – repeating these in our minds kills our willpower.[3]

        On top of the above issues, you may have noticed that even when you have an abundance of willpower, it has its limits. Every day, in one form or another, you exert willpower. For instance, if you resist eating a tasty piece of chocolate cake offered to you, then you’ve had to use emotional and mental power.

        Willpower is similar to a muscle. If we overuse it, we get tired. In other words, willpower is a limited resource.[4]

        How to Succeed with Limited Willpower

        Once you realize that willpower has its limits, then the key thing to know is that you must follow a system to reach your goals and dreams. Put systems first, and willpower second.

        Willpower is close to useless, if you do not allow it to work alongside a personal success system.

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        What is this system that I refer to? It’s a system that creates the right conditions in your mind and environment that helps make your success a surefire outcome. With this type of system in place, willpower will simply be an extra bonus in helping you to reach success. But to be clear, with the right system, even if your willpower fails, you’ll still keep on the road to success and achievement. These are the essential steps to build your own success system:

              1. Create an environment that is conducive to success

              Think for a moment about willpower. On its own, it doesn’t place any emphasis on changing your environment, instead, it puts its focus on overcoming your environment. It’s no wonder then, when the limited willpower begins to fail, people succumb to environmental influences – despite their best efforts to resist.

              As human beings, we are consciously and unconsciously influenced by what’s around us. These could be the news we read, the stories our friends tell us, and even the influence our home has on us.

              The secret is to, where possible, create an environment that helps (not hinders) the reaching of your goals. For example, if you want to spot binge eating snacks, give away all your snacks to others, and make sure you can’t reach any kind of snacks at your workplace or home.

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              Your environment can also be used to directly support your goals. For instance, if you want to be a professional artist, surround yourself with professional artists.

              2. Know what makes you happy

              By knowing what makes you happy, you’ll also reveal what motivates you. This is important.

              Take a look around at others, or delve into your past, and you will find that willpower falters when people encounter failure or come across negative events. This clearly demonstrates that willpower is affected by external factors, thus making it unreliable.

              Knowing what makes you happy is the perfect way to stay motivated to reach your goals – even when your willpower crumbles. This can be through rewarding yourself by watching a great movie (once you’ve achieved a goal milestone), or by simply enjoying the inner bliss you receive when walking on the pathway that keeps you happy, motivated and successful.

              Replace Your Old Beliefs – and Find New Success

              Willpower is not the be all and end all we’ve been taught to believe. While it’s certainly a component of success, it’s nowhere near as important as all the self-help gurus claim.

              As I’ve discussed above, having a system and a goal, are much more powerful factors in success than willpower.

              So, now you know the truth about success, take the steps I’ve suggested, and begin achieving more than you ever thought possible. And if you need any further motivation to help you on your way, check out the Lifehack article Make Good Habits Stick Easily With Productive—the Habit Tracker.

              Featured photo credit: Vecteezy via vecteezy.com

              Reference

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              Leon Ho

              Founder & CEO of Lifehack

              50 Ways to Increase Productivity and Achieve More in Less Time The Ultimate Night Routine Guide: Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive Powerful Daily Routine Examples for a Healthy and High-Achieving You How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster What Is a Habit? Understand It to Control It 100%

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              Published on November 20, 2019

              14 Personal Goals for a Better You Next Year

              14 Personal Goals for a Better You Next Year

              Personal goal setting starts with having a destination in mind.

              If you don’t know where you’re going, why bother moving forward? You’ll just get more lost or find yourself back where you started again.

              “If you don’t know where you’re going, every road will take you there.”- Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland

              You have to have a destination of who you want to become in order to get there.

              Personal goals will be easier to make if you know where you want to go.

              You must start with how to get there and break down the steps. These steps must be realistic.

              That doesn’t mean you can’t dream big; in fact,

              “Shoot for the moon, and if you miss, you’ll still land among the stars.”

              Dream big no matter what but be realistic at the same time. Be open to detours, too.

              According to Action for Happiness[1], ways to make goals include deciding on goals, writing steps down, telling someone about it and plan out each step.

              Here I will outline 14 personal goals that can help you become a better you:

              1. Live Authentically

              You don’t have time to be living your life as someone else. All you can do is be yourself. You must choose to be who you really are. That’s the best way to live.

              Being yourself is not easy though. It requires dedication to your values and dreams. You won’t be able to be authentic without losing your fear of what others think of you.

              There’s only one way to be successful in this life and it’s if you do it for the right reasons. It’s if you choose yourself. It’s not until you find that you will be free.

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              Get inspired by my other article: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

              2. Take Time for You in Self-Care Prioritization

              Self-care is not something you should take for granted. Often, we don’t prioritize it well enough. Some examples include finding time for yourself, do things that make you feel good. Get dietary advice to eat healthy and exercise to improve your health.

              Take a break. Go outside. Relax. Read a book or watch a good movie with someone you love. It’s about rewarding yourself with your joys and hobbies.

              You can find more examples here: 30 Self-Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit

              Self-care is not selfish. It’s important to find time for yourself so that you CAN give more of yourself to the areas of life you need to. You deserve it. You are worth it. Remember that.

              3. Don’t Take Things Personally

              The less you are concerned with others, the more you can focus on doing what matters most to you. What others say does not reflect the real you. It is just their perception, which may not be the full picture or the truth.

              People who try to hurt you are not happy.

              “Happy people don’t try to bring other people down.” – Anonymous.

              That’s why it’s just not worth holding on to their words.

              When you refuse to take things personally, it’s because you know who you are.

              4: Decide What You Stand for

              4. Decide to Be Who You Are Meant to Be

              Look for things you are passionate about. Advocate to make yourself and others heard. Join groups that support your beliefs.

              “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”- Anonymous.

              So, decide what you value and what you stand for. Then, you can do anything.

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              Take a look at this guide if you aren’t sure what you’re passionate about: How to Find Your Passion and Live a Fulfilling Life

              5. Find the Silver Lining

              Find happiness in any situation by finding the silver lining. You can decide to be happy because of the good you find. You must choose to look at the good.

              People often think about the bad first, and they dwell on it. It’s human nature, but if you can look for the good or the silver lining, you will be happier for it.

              You can learn from any situation or use any situation to better yourself or humanity. Take that and you will overcome it all.

              6. Do Something Good for Someone

              Instead of just focusing on your problems, do good for someone. It will not only take your mind off what problems you have, but also help you see that you are capable of doing good — right, you still have things to offer.

              There are many opportunities to do good. Volunteering, checking on a friend or family member, get involved in a project that serves your community, etc.

              The more good you do, the better you will feel.

              7. Practice Daily Positive Self Talk

              Every day is a new day. The way you talk to yourself is how you can ensure you build resilience and endurance through any challenge.

              Here are some positive self talk examples:

              “Things may have not gone my way but I can see the good in the situation still.”

              “At least I am alive. I have my health, my abilities and the opportunities to use what I have for good.”

              “I am worthwhile.”

              “I can do it.”

              Even more here: 10 Positive Affirmations for Success that will Change your Life

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              The more you practice positive self talk, the more you will overcome and accomplish.

              8. Surrender, When Necessary

              When you surrender, you give in to the current rather than fight against it. It means you value inner peace most of all. You don’t sacrifice your inner peace for anything. You know your worth, and you are willing to see how a situation unfolds. You don’t try to force solutions either.

              Instead of forcing solutions, you allow the best ones to come forth. You also know how to use what you have. You don’t fight against your situation. You instead use it.

              When you surrender, you are accepting what is. This makes it easier to move forward.

              9. Ask for Help in One Area of Your Life

              We are often taught that needing help is a sign of weakness but it is actually a sign of strength. It’s developing skills that you might not be as well versed in. It’s developing mentor/mentee relationships to help you succeed.

              Success is subjective to every individual. When you are developing yourself, you need others’ input. You need help to be who you are meant to be.

              There is no shame in asking for help. Asking for help instead opens doors for you that you may not have been able to open yourself.

              10. Never Stop Learning

              Learning is meant to be lifelong. You can follow your interests, and everything is a “Internet Search Engine” away. But how to really commit to this? Take another class, sign up for a workshop, read books on the subject of interest, develop new hobbies…

              In Success Magazine,[2] Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You to Be Rich suggests 3 techniques to never stop learning:

              “1. Embrace the Mind of a Child.
              2. Put yourself in the hands of a trusted teacher.
              3. Read, read, read.” Overall, be responsible for your own growth in life.

              You are never too old to learn something new. Start today.

              11. Set Boundaries and Say No When Appropriate

              Having boundaries can feel uncomfortable because we are telling others what we do not accept. It is also necessary for healthy relationships. You will use them to protect yourself, your heart and your mind.

              No one can make you do anything. If you are uncomfortable with something, you have a right to say no. Those who truly care about you will not be offended. You are also setting the bar high, or setting an example for others who are too scared to have boundaries too.

              You will make better choices if you have better boundaries: How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

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              12. Follow Your Gut

              Trust your instincts. They are trying to tell you what to trust in.

              You may not want to do something but feel pressured to do it. Your gut is the one speaking to you, telling you not to do it if you don’t want to. It can save you from many things, for example preventing you from making poor choices.

              When you follow your gut, you preserve your interests and secure yourself.

              13. Do What You Love

              Are you doing what you love? You must choose what you can’t live without. Don’t sacrifice that for anything. Life is too short.

              Your best also comes out when you are doing what you love. You can give more, do more if you’re happy with what you are doing.

              So, do what you love. Don’t question it: Why You Should Always Do What You Love (And How to Do It)

              14. Appreciate What You Have

              Good Deeds Day defines gratitude as,[3]

              “Gratitude allows us to recognize good in our lives. Focusing and appreciating the good in our lives constantly reminds us about the great things all around us… Gratitude allows us to see that the sources of that good are usually close by. Practicing gratitude allows us to recognize those who bring goodness into our lives and humbles us in order to give credit to those we are grateful for.”

              At the end of the day, you need to recognize what you do have rather than focusing on what you don’t have. You must choose gratitude as your attitude in order to live a happier, better life. You will win then.

              Counting your blessings everyday will help you bring in more blessings. You are limitless. You will overcome more too if you have that positive perspective.

              Appreciating what you have starts with the simple things in life. Recognize what’s working. Find your reason to hold on. And then change the world.

              Here’re 32 Things You Should Be Grateful For if you need some reminders.

              Final Thoughts

              Goal setting is about finding what will better yourself and lead you to happiness. You will find peace with yourself when you are on the right path.

              You have to make the decision to make the best of everything, and you have to remember what really matters. Your goals will shape you for the rest of your life.

              Good luck!

              More About Goals Setting

              Featured photo credit: Anika Huizinga via unsplash.com

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