Today we are going to talk about fuel.
Fuel for you, so you get stuff done; the stuff which is best for you in the short and long term, and that contributes to the quality and enjoyment of your life.
We are going to talk about the fuel source called WILLPOWER.
We make life a lot harder when we don’t understand the limitations of willpower.
And what might be a better (less HARD inducing) choice.
Here is the thing.
And where it gets a bit paradoxical.
We may need to use willpower in order to get to the place where we can use another more effective and efficient fuel source.
That fuel source is HABIT.
Well habit isn’t actually a source of fuel, it is more a system which is more efficient in its energy consumption.
Willpower burns fuel (energy) quickly.
Habit burns fuel (energy) more efficiently.
So if you utilize HABIT more, and WILLPOWER less, you will have MORE ENERGY available to direct into your life desires, or have more redundancy for life’s inevitable curve balls.
Essentially life is WAY harder if we don’t have any energy left over for the unplanned, unforeseen and unexpected
How and when to use Willpower
The simple lesson is we want to use Willpower the least amount of the time, as it burns energy quickly.
Instead we want to get to the slow-burning habit space (lower brain) as quickly as possible.
However, in order to form a habit, we generally need to burn willpower to establish it.
Hence the conundrum.
The solution is to be very deliberate and intentional about choosing which HABITS have the most positive impact on our lives (i.e. high ROI).
THEN apply willpower.
For instance I want to establish high-ROI habits when it comes to:
- When, and what, I eat (nutrition).
- When and how I sleep (restoration of my mind and body).
- When and how I move my body (physical activity).
- What my home living conditions are like (my environment).
- How to raise my conscious awareness and non-reactivity (mindfulness).
So instead of needing to use WILLPOWER every time I am trying to decide when and what to eat, or when and what to do for physical activity, or when I go to sleep, or what condition I leave my house in, or mentally trying to find the best solution; I want to use WILLPOWER to establish effective HABITS in each of these areas, and then save my willpower for times when it is really needed.
The ‘right’ habits actually use less energy, plus may generate more energy, so it gives you the ability to have more willpower to deal with life, and feed into creative outlets that add value to your life, or allow you remove things which make life harder.
Somewhat interesting theory, but how does that work practically?
I will use WILLPOWER to establish the following HABITS (for example), and I might build up to these healthy, self-loving, energy saving habits, over time. For example:
I might initially use willpower to get in the habit of pushing distractions to the side, and asking my body if it is actually hungry, or only psychologically stimulated. I might need willpower at the start, to resist temptation, so I can get better at sensing my body’s signaling mechanisms. After a period of time, as I become more attuned to my body, I need less willpower to hold distractions at bay. I am in the HABIT of checking and communicating with my physical body, rather than my ‘thoughts’.
I might need to use willpower to form the habit of tidying up my living space and getting it organised. It might be a significant energy drainer (and willpower) initially, but once I get my living space more organised, it is likely to take less effort to keep it tidy. I also might notice I am more relaxed and calm in that space, so I am having a positive reward for my effort, to further embed the habit.
I might use willpower to establish the habit of showing up to perform a mindfulness exercise like meditation. It might take willpower to show up, and also willpower to sit still for a period of time (e.g. 10-20 mins). Over time, as the habit forms, it requires less energy (willpower) and there might be positive by-products of doing the practice, which again are a positive reward for the habit forming and a potential energy generator.
I might have to use willpower to shut off my technology at a particular time of night, to give my brain and nervous system time to wind down, and go to bed at a reasonable hour, getting 7.5hrs – 9hrs sleep. The more I do the this, the more energy I am likely to have, again providing that ‘reward’ to anchor the habit, and providing you with more energy to explore creative growth in your life.
It is okay to use willpower.
Just spend it (very) wisely, on healthy habits that are likely to last, give back more energy, and make your life more easeful, peaceful and fulfilling.
The Main Point
WILLPOWER burns a lot of energy quickly.
Use it wisely.
One of the best uses is using it to create HEALTHY HABITS, which require not only less willpower (energy) over time, but add surplus energy back into your physical and mental systems.
When you need to use less willpower, and have energy coming back to you, then you will not only be doing life easier (less hard), but will have the ability to truly create something great and meaningful with your life force.
My Parting words
Willpower can be a powerful change maker.
But it dissipates quickly when used.
A better way to use it, is to use it to create HEALTHY HABITS.
Healthy habits that not only use less energy, but also give you back energy.
The more energy you have, the more creative you an be.
The bigger adventures you can undertake.
The quicker you recover from illness.
The less likely you are to get ill.
Willpower is more like using FORCE (which is necessary to break inertia).
Habits are more like POWER (they are more easeful and energy conscious).
And my final point…
Start building habits progressively – not all at once.
Or you will deplete your willpower, before any meaningful habits are established.
Happy habit building.
Have a great day (deciding on what habit to focus on) and an intentional-willpower-focused-week bedding in that habit.
See you next week.