Willpower is a necessary ingredient for success, but it’s not enough nor sufficient to help you achieve your goals.
Just like its counterparts, self-control, motivation, and inspiration, they have their own roles to play but they can’t help you succeed on their own.
To properly grasp what I’m trying to convey, have you ever asked yourself the following questions:
How many times have you tried New Year’s resolution, but found yourself reverting back after a few days?
How many times have you gotten excited by an ad for a course promising you wealth and happiness but waned right after buying it?
And how many times have you tried transforming your life only to find yourself worse off than you were before?
All of these activities have one thing in common, they only work at the beginning.
What is willpower?
Britannica Dictionary defines willpower as the ability to control yourself: strong determination that allows you to do something difficult (such as to lose weight or quit smoking).
We all know what it means to control ourselves. It means we force ourselves to do something that may or may not be against our own will.
Furthermore, controlling and doing something difficult takes a lot of our resources, and if we keep on doing it, willpower will get depleted and eventually lose its power.
With that being said…
Willpower is not fun.
Absolutely boring and cumbersome.
You may get excited at the beginning, but when results are not showing, you will be demoralized and demotivated far sooner than you expect.
Even though most people aren’t aware of it, they all use their willpower every day. When they go to their job they hate, when they force a smile on their narcissistic bosses or when they compel themselves to work on a responsibility they dislike.
All these are tiring and daunting tasks and the more they keep doing it, the more exhausting it gets. And the only source of motivation that comes from doing it is the dire need to do it for a living.
Willpower is only good to start the momentum.
In any undertaking, a strong kick is needed to get the momentum going. But as soon as you start moving you need to fuel yourself up to keep the momentum flowing.
Why? Because willpower does not have an abundant source of power. Rather it is conceived that willpower taps only from a limited mental resource of energy.
This is known as “ego depletion” by psychologists. Willpower is thought to be linked to a limited supply of mental energy, and when that energy runs out, you’re more likely to succumb to temptation.
“Ego Depletion — Wikipedia.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ego_depletion.
Willpower is not by itself motivation nor a good source of it.
As discussed previously, willpower is at its best when used at the beginning of a task or when the task needs another boost. Willpower is not a source of motivation, and if used frequently, it gets depleted like a muscle.
On your journey, you will need a variety of resources, activities, or things that would make your tasks fun and rewarding. You can also get creative and add more enjoyment and satisfaction to achieve an abundant source of motivation.
Let’s have an example.
Assume that you are building a new positive habit like walking every day for 1 hour. Willpower is necessary at the beginning especially if you have never done it in the past.
You may get excited at first. You will enjoy the views and surroundings as you walk but eventually after doing it many times, it will eventually bore you.
You may continue doing this; forcing yourself to get up early in the morning but eventually, life will get in the way. And if it’s a habit not formed properly, it will soon wither and die quickly.
Here’s how to make it last.
As soon as willpower has done its job by forcing yourself to take a walk, the next step is to make the activity stand on its own by making the activity fun, rewarding, and in a way addictive, so you will keep on doing it.
BJ Fogg in his book, Tiny Habits(affiliate link), which I recommend, states that in order for a habit to stick easily and quickly, you need to celebrate right after the activity and immerse yourself in the positive feeling and emotions you will get from the celebration.
This will signal the rush of dopamine in your brain and will tell you that you need to do it again to receive the same reward of feeling good.
By understanding the reason behind this example, you can apply it in every aspect of your life to achieve your goals and transform yourself for the best.