When we view Willpower as a muscle, some of the muscle building theory applies such as:
- Use it or lose it!
- It can be developed
- It does grow stronger with usage or training
- It takes effort and time
In order for this willpower muscle to be trained an essential element is required and that is energy. Your energy level of the mind and body to initiate, sustain and endure. Remember, willpower is only needed when you desire to make changes or to create new behaviours and actions which lead to habits. A habit is formed when all that hard work results in a behaviour pattern that is now in auto-pilot and takes very effort on your part to execute.
There are 3 top components that willpower will tap into are :
- Training / Usage: Yup, we can’t get away from the hard work. If we want to achieve a desired change, we have to put the effort into it. Just like training for a marathon, there must be a goal, a plan and then the running. To grow and increase the willpower muscle needs exactly the same thing – a goal, a plan and the doing.
- Physical energy : The physical state of your body will determine the mental and emotional energy that you will have to maintain and persevere through the tough ride. Where is your current physical state? Do you know when your energy level is at its optimum? Are you a morning or evening person? All these awareness will help you to best plan and schedule the hardest task to do when it requires the most concentration and effort.
- Mental Energy: The mental energy is required in order for you to “force” your brain to consciously act and work in a new way. You are forcing it to create new processes to achieve a new goal. This forcing function is hard. It is hard because our brains are generally lazy and wants to perform as efficiently as possible. Therefore if the brain has to work, it will generally rebel. In order to quash that rebellion that is taking place in the mind, the mental energy that needs to be used is extremely high. To focus and concentrate on a new task is hard and tiring. Therefore in order to be successful, both the physical and mental energy bar needs to be high.
What can you do to increase your energy level? The formula is nothing new. It is all centers around self care. How well are you caring for yourself? Energy levels are determined by the following:
- Diet: One of the factors of a healthy lifestyle is what we consume into our bodies. What types of food we are eating will impact our energy level. There are a ton of research and articles on what is the recommended balance diet we should aim for. I dare say that consuming a well balanced diet is important to maintaining good energy level and a healthy life.
- Health: What is your current health? When you are in generally good health, your energy level is stable which leads to a certain level of productivity during the day, balance mental and emotional state to face the challenges of the day.
- Fitness: Another no-brainer here. You can increase your energy level just by how much movement you do everyday. Exercise is a critical component of a healthy self care routine. Increasing the endurance and energy level of your body will help you to focus. An increased level of focus will strengthen your willpower level when you are in the midst of creating change.
- Rest and Recovery. Just as much as it is important to be on the go, our body and mind requires time to rest and recovery. Therefore, sleep is critical along with time set aside to just reflect and rejoice. As part of this process, it is about rewarding yourself for the mini-wins. Those small steps of victory that you experienced during the day. That will help build more willpower muscles.
Perform a quick check on where you are at on those 4 areas. Think about a time in the last month, when you had tried to make a change, what was your state of health? Did you spend time for self care? What was your energy level? What was your level of willpower? Are there areas that could have been improved upon?
More often than not, one of those 4 areas above require some attention. The first step of any change is to be aware of where you are at. What is your current state? And then you can move forward with purpose.