Personal Standards vs Will Power

Let me start by saying - we only have a finite amount of will power. From the moment we wake, we start using it up. Yet when we come to giving something up or learning something our entire strategy is based on this limited resource.

Let me explain. Let's say you are trying to be healthier (to you that might mean more energy, weight loss or longevity of life). When you begin your challenge of getting healthier, you start by selecting a diet. After some research you decide you want to adopt a Paleo based diet. And you start. This is what most people do. They change the outside (I.e. diet) and their only tool is will power. Not once do we consider any further internal changes.

Let's play this hypothetical scenario out.

It's day one and you are excited about your goal of eating better. Not a problem. Day 2 the novelty is still there, and you are trying new recipes. Day 3 and 4 friends and colleagues start showing an interest, this boosts your ego. Day 5 and 6 people stop caring about your diet, and the novelty of a low carb diet is starting to feel boring. Day 7 from the word go you are bored of eating a vegetable breakfast, the salad at lunch is tiresome. Your boss just called you a 'dick', and it's raining. On your route home you crave a KFC. It takes all your will power to keep driving past the establishment. Day 8, you skip breakfast as you can't face it. It's Sally's birthday at work and she's brought in donuts. You try to stop the urge, and you nearly do (congrats). But you're feed up, bored and can't even remember your reason for going on this ‘stupid’ diet. Thinking f*ck it you reach for that sugary treat and ram it into your beautiful face.

I can confidently right that, because I’ve behaved similarly. It's annoying. Because now I/you feel down that we quit. We also know we will start again, this may go on for years. It's a vicious cycle.

In my book 'Challenge yourself, I dare you' I cover many tips and strategies for seeing something through. From those tips I have achieved many tough challenges. The below advice is a bonus to you, as it's not in the book.

The goal isn’t to rely on will power. Will power should be there to get you through your really challenging days.

To find it easier and more enjoyable you need to look within.

I will use the above hypothetical scenario and link it to my life. About 9 years ago I drank a lot of refined sugared drinks. I would consume about 2-3 glasses a day. After a scare from my dentist (better, more entertaining story in the book) I decided to stop drinking this filth for 30 days. I relied heavily on will power. I achieved my goal but each day was an awful mental battle, making my days less enjoyable. However what this did do for me was start to change the way I looked at nutrition and health. Over the following 5 years I started putting better liquids and foods into my body. I was also training for basketball, a lot. In hindsight I realise now that the outside world was changing because I was changing my inside reality. I started seeing myself as an athlete. In my head whenever I went to grab some junk food I would tell myself "athletes don't eat that" or "I don't drink that, I'm an athlete". Here's the key. I increased my personal standards.

I started seeing myself as an athlete, and athletes or at least good ones, respect their bodies. I could have also picked the belief that my body was a temple. And you don't bring dirt into a temple.

What is it you are struggling with? What personal standards do you need? Can you label those standards I.e. temple, athlete, sage?

Give it a go, and give your will power a rest - he's been tortured enough.

If it makes sense to you, try it, and let me know below.

To your success,

2 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Personal Standards vs Will Power”

  1. Bud Oliver December 11, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    I like this with one small caveat. I believe there is an infinite source of power. When we align our standards, our beliefs with that source all the will power we need for any given endeavor will flow through us. It is the nature of power to flow, to be channeled from it’s source along a path towards some end.. Like water I believe it follows the path of least resistance. We struggle because of resistance, which is always internal. The boss chewing my butt doesn’t make me eat the donut, or drink too much, or snap at my coworkers. That’s just the heat of life pulling the resistance out of me. As you say we all start with at least a small measure of will power and it is the alignment of beliefs with the source of will itself that allows more of it fill and overflow. Thanks for this encouraging post.

    • Stuart December 14, 2014 at 12:13 pm

      Couldn’t agree more Bud. 🙂

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