It took willpower to write this post! If I didn’t have any willpower I wouldn’t even be online. There would have been so many distractions to have made me lost my way…stay in bed, watch soap operas on TV, surf the internet, sleep a bit more, etc. Willpower really is the power to keep you moving towards your goal; you ward off distractions that might derail your efforts. A deeper part of us could be described as a ‘over-excitable monkey’, such as you might see on a wildlife documentary. Screaming and jumping about, left and right, up and down, throwing things around…This resembles our inner (subconscious) impulses that scream for attention: ‘hungry, angry, must do this, must have that’. Soon we lose our way on the road to our goals.
Our will is like the zookeeper that sets limits and has the overall view of how to look after the monkey and help it thrive. There is often a conflict between the two, but the keeper has been trained to deal with the situation. We need to train ourselves in a similar way in order to develop out willpower. The best way is to start with small things, for example I have started to put less sugar in my coffee. Seems easy doesn’t it? Well is hasn’t been that easy because -initially- there is that temptation…’not sweet enough, bit more this time…’. Therefore each time we have to make an active decision to not have too much sugar. This in itself is training in willpower. Something else to keep in mind is those things that undermine our willpower. When we are tired for example we are more vulnerable to give in to the monkey’s demands. Also, certain situations (or people present in those situations) can sway us. That’s why people who want to stop smoking may wish to avoid those places where most people smoke, for example, just like some people avoid pubs so as not to be tempted to have a drink. Some personality factors play a part as well. If you have little confidence for example and you are doing something that takes you out of your comfort zone, any setback may derail you and give up. On the other had if you have lots of confidence and natural focus it will be easier to keep on track. But the overall conclusion is to start small and keep training that willpower muscle. You’ll soon feel better about yourself and this will benefit you in other areas of your life as well.

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