Mags wearing a green sweater sitting on her couch - talking about how to increase willpower

How to Increase Willpower – Trusting in the Ebbs and Flows of My Own Self Control

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Team! This week I’m all jacked up to talk with you about willpower. Of course, as always, we should keep in mind that, none of my musings or discoveries, are based on research or scientific studies. What I’m about to share is simply based on my personal experience. I’d like to talk about what I’ve come to understand about my own control, or lack of control to do something, or restrain from doing something, and how my ability to manage that control ebbs and flows over time. 

The other day, my buddy reminded me that I exercise a lot of willpower. Team, I had actually forgotten that. For whatever reason, over the past year or so, I’ve surrounded myself with a lot of influences that have encouraged me to entertain the idea that willpower is a limited resource and I’d be better off not relying on it. Clearly, this advice sounded very reasonable to me because my own self-control has seemed to “fail me” time and time again. And now looking back, I think I became disillusioned with my own self-discipline. But maybe I’ve been looking at this all wrong.

Stay with me here, Team, as I introduce a metaphor…

One of the things that makes both G Man and me happy is keeping our house tidy. Now just because we like to keep our house clean doesn’t mean that our house always stays clean. There are plenty of times when the messes get away from us. But, sooner or later, when our energy is restored, we get back to neatening up. Why can’t I look at my willpower like that?

In the past, I’ve seen willpower as something I either had or didn’t have. I never gave myself the grace to see my power of will as a resource that I usually have, but that occasionally gets away from me…especially when I’m tired. Rather than convincing myself that I can’t rely on my personal will, or that it’s a limited resource, I can regard my self-control as something I consistently have, but periodically don’t have—just like the cleanliness of our home. 

Listen, a great deal of money is made from making people believe that they don’t have enough capacity within themselves to do something…that we have to look outside ourselves and invest in things we can truly depend on. And you guys know, I’m all for getting outside help whenever and wherever I need it. But, more often than not, the only thing standing between me and making the right or wrong choice for myself is me. I’d much rather spend energy strengthening my belief in my own resolve than in being convinced that I can’t rely on it. And like all strengthening, the more I train, the stronger I get. 

How do I increase my willpower? Believe in it.

In the New Year, we’re going to take time to dissect the single most powerful tool I use to build my strength of will: The Mission Statement. Throughout the month of January we’re going to chat about why I write mission statements, how I go about writing them, and what they’ve done to both drive change within me, while also safeguarding the parts of me that I absolutely don’t want to change. Be sure to tune in. And PLEASE don’t forget to reach out to your buddies and have them join us too! Change is al-ways more effective when we invite others to accompany us. Inviting your friends to join us encourages two of my favorite things: connection and accountability. Please share this post with whomever you’d like to effect change with in the new year so they can join us on the journey to more serenity, self-confidence, and compassion in 2024!

Happy New Year, TeamConfessioners!

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  1. Thank you Mags – another perfectly timed lesson as we head into the new year! I’m going to try and believe in my willpower more!

    • Daniel — you can do this.
      And I love that reminder that if you don’t believe in yourself in that moment, you can rely on someone else’s belief in you…

Welcome to my blog! Here you can read about what’s on my mind as I try my best to recover from screaming at my kids and nagging the bejesus out my husband.

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