How to Find the Willpower to Achieve Your Goals
If you’re feeling discouraged and unmotivated to create positive change in your life, these five strategies may help you alleviate your emotional triggers, increase your willpower, and achieve your goals.
Strategy #1: Chunking
Many of us cannot complete the tasks we set out to do because we get overwhelmed thinking of all the work required, which leads to a state of paralysis. Overwhelm is one of my main emotional triggers, and chunking is a great way to alleviate this and follow through with my goals.
Chunking is when you take a large task and break it down into smaller, more manageable pieces. With chunking you will find you have increased confidence and willpower and are able to complete more tasks with less stress.
When my depression was at its height I had many days where I didn’t feel like going to the gym and hitting the weights. When I was in this negative emotional state, I found my mind focusing on the long, tiring workout I had planned ahead while feelings of inadequacy and not measuring up to my peers came creeping in. It’s exhausting just thinking about it!
Strategy #2: Confidence
Confidence is the belief you have in yourself to achieve your goals. After coming out to my parents and feeling alone and abandoned, my confidence was basically non-existent. I needed to get my confidence back if I was going to be successful. Approaching a task with confidence will decrease the willpower required to complete said task, and feelings of self-doubt and insecurity will begin to melt away.
How is it possible to increase confidence, you ask? It’s not as hard as you might think! Start by changing the way you frame your goals.
When I wanted to lose thirty pounds, for example, I felt an extreme lack of confidence pursuing such an ambitious goal. Feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt became debilitating. I felt like I was permanently stuck in a place of inaction, never to achieve my goals.
The truth is, the way I was framing my goal was setting me up for failure.
Strategy #3: Perception
Perception is everything when it comes to maintaining willpower. It will make or break your chances for success.
A recent study conducted by Stanford University found that if you believe you have unlimited willpower, you will in turn have more willpower than the average person.
This means that when you believe you have a finite supply of willpower, you’re right! When you believe you have an infinite supply of willpower, you’re right about that too!
You create your own reality. The beliefs you hold dictate the world around you. The limitations you put on yourself are the limitations that also hold you back. Create a new narrative for yourself, one in which you are empowered to achieve your goals, and you will transform limitations into strengths.
Strategy #4: Identity
Identity shapes the way we view ourselves and what we believe we are capable of, and it dictates our response to emotional triggers.
Are you a smoker? Do you love to jog? Are you a fat, lazy slob who will never amount to anything? These are all examples of the identities we create that can hold us back or lead us to success.
We constantly use our identity to quickly recognize the things we are good at and things we suck at. Did you ever stop to think about how this identity is based out of past experiences—many of which do not even hold true today? These beliefs will hold you back from reaching your full potential if you let them.
When I gained thirty pounds I had allowed myself to take on the identity of victim, and as a result I became disempowered to change my situation. Eventually I learned to shift my identity from disempowered to empowered, by changing the stories I was telling myself.
Strategy #5: High-Level Thinking
We essentially have two types of thinking: high-level and low-level.
Low-level thoughts focus on how to complete a task, short-term goals, and execution of plans.
“How am I going to workout today?” is an example of a low level thought.
High-level thoughts focus on why you want to complete a task, and are charged with a sense of meaning and purpose. They help us to find that extra bit of willpower we need to carry us through tough times.
“Why do I want to workout today?” is an example of a high-level thought.
The high-level thought shown above focuses on the motivation behind the goal. It re-enforces the belief that working out is what’s best for me. Thinking in this way reduces the resistance to the task at hand
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