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Some people make it look so easy. They go to the gym three times a week and easily avoid eating foods that aren't good for them. Certain behaviours seem effortless for some people, yet others struggle with them. Are some people genetically blessed with more willpower than others?
The truth is that we all have the same amount of power to do anything that we would love to do. Every person chooses to use their willpower in different areas, depending on what is most important to them. The steps below will allow you to discover where you already have great "willpower," and teach you to tap into it in order to apply it to any area of your life.
1. Determine what you love to do, the areas where you already possess great "willpower."
We all have great willpower when we are doing things we love to do. The problem is that many of us are bogged down with all the things that we have to do and have never taken the time to discover what we truly love to do, the areas where willpower is not an issue. By determining the areas where you already possess great willpower, your self-esteem will improve and spill over into other areas of your life. The following questions will help you uncover the areas where you have strong willpower:
• What do you love to do?
• How do you like to spend your time and money?
• What do you like to talk about? Read about?
• If I gave you $2,000 and a free afternoon, how would you ideally spend it?
There are no right or wrong answers. Perhaps Tom answered these questions by stating that he would buy books with his $2,000 and spend his free time reading. Jane may choose to buy sports gear with her $2,000 and spend the day hiking. Jane clearly loves to be active and is not someone who has a difficult time ensuring she gets enough exercise. However, she may not find the willpower Tom has to keep up with her latest novel, even though she thinks she should. Do you know why? At this point it isn't that important to her.
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2. Ask yourself more empowering questions.
It has been wisely said that the quality of your life is based on the quality of the questions you ask yourself. For example, most people who find it hard to get to the gym ask themselves, "Why don't I have enough willpower to make myself get there?" Your brain will be happy to provide you with a list of reasons why you don't exercise: you're too busy, it is too far away, or you're too tired. This type of self-talk reinforces the idea that you can't be consistent with your latest goal.
3. Link the new desired behaviour to the willpower you already possess.
Imagine the difference when you pose a question that links going to the gym to what is most important to you. For example, if your children are most important, ask yourself, "How would going to the gym benefit my children?" Now your brain will create a list of reasons why going to the gym will support what you truly love. Perhaps by going to the gym you become a good role model for your children, you will have the energy to keep up with them, or maybe you will decrease your stress from the day and be more patient with them. Keep thinking this way until you can't imagine not going to the gym. You have just harnessed the willpower you use when making decisions for your children and linked it to the gym.
4. Repeat this process with all the areas of your life that are important to you.
Continue to link the gym to any area of your life that is valuable to you. For example, is going to the gym going to increase your finances? Allow you to function better at work? Create an environment to meet people?
The more you ask yourself these questions, the clearer it will become that all the willpower you need is right inside you -- you just need to tap into it.
Dr. Laina Shulman, co-founder of Pure-Health, is a chiropractor, consultant, writer and professional speaker residing in London, Ontario.