Willpower may be the single most important determining factor in the level of success you achieve throughout your life. I would argue that no matter what you may lack in: experience, skill, self belief, or passion, that willpower can make up for over time. Willpower is simple; it means doing what you NEED to do instead of what you WANT to do; it is saying no to the desires of the MOMENT for the promise of the FUTURE; it is doing the right thing no matter how difficult it may be. Willpower is consistency- and like the tortoise and the hair- steady consistency is always better than alternating work and laziness. Look at anyone in your life that you perceive as successful, what is their day to day life like? Do they work hard for 1 week and play for 2, or do they do a little bit -or a lot- every single day?
Most of us are mentally weak; we are used to doing what feels good right now instead of doing what positions us for success. Willpower is the ability to implement daily actions and make choices that will lead you down a path of success instead a path of regret; instant gratification is the biggest enemy to your dreams.
Your idea of success can be anything: weight loss, becoming a better person, beating addiction, making a million dollars, or buying a home. It doesn’t matter what your idea of success is, what matters is your ability to make your desires a reality: what matters is your ability to make decisions that get you a little closer to your goals every single day.
If you want to buy a home and you know you need to save 20,000 dollars, in cash, for a down payment, it should be very clear what you need to do: you need to acquire enough money for the down payment. There is a right way and a wrong way to get the money and the way you answer following question will be a great gauge at how much will power you have… So you decide you want to buy a house in 1 year and you need 20,000 dollars to buy it. You have no savings, you currently make 45,000 dollars per year and you spend about 37,500. How are you going to get the money for your house?
If your first thought was cutting out extra spending, increasing your savings, getting rid of extra expenses you don’t need, working a little bit of overtime every month, or cutting back on your monthly expenses, then congratulations you probably have some willpower: when you needed to make a goal by a deadline you thought of LONG TERM, consistent actions that could help you acquire the money. Your amount of willpower will still determine if you save the money or not, but thinking of a solution that involves consistent daily effort is definitely the first step.
If your first thought was: selling off all your possessions, playing the lottery, cooking meth, “I can’t get that much money, I already spend about what I make”, or borrowing money from friends or family, then you probably lack willpower. If your answer focused on drastic, quick, extreme, or complicated measures to obtain the money then you probably tend to live a life of instant gratification. Maybe you believe that if its meant to be it will happen, but I promise you this, nothing worthwhile in your life will ever happen unless you take action to make it happen. Life doesn’t happen to you, it happens for you!
People constantly seek the quick and easy way to become successful. People naively believe that there is a magic investment or business plan to make a million dollars, that there is a special diet or pill to make you lose 50 lbs in 1 month, or that there is true happiness is buying a new car or T.V. There is no salvation from your current situation in any immediate fix; success starts within yourself: it begins with making a plan and taking action-don’t ever expect immediate results.
At every turn we are bombarded with information that seeks to lead us down a path of instant gratification. There is almost always regret on the other side of the easy choice, yet there is almost always growth on the other side of challenge and pain. That is the real secret of willpower. Willpower is the decision to say no to immediate and fleeting pleasure and forgo it for long term satisfaction and results.
Advertisers pray on our weakness constantly, they know we don’t want to work hard for what we want and that we would rather get things with no effort. Thats why commercials promise you a pill that will make you lose weight or make you happy, why authors promise you a book that will change your life or fix your relationship, thats why everyone promises you a secret “fill in the blank” that will change your life! These people are praying on our ignorance and by falling for their trap we waste our: time, money, energy, and they increase our feeling that we can’t get what we want. Stop searching for the easy way and just do the simple day to day things that will give you what you want.
It starts within you; it starts in your mind; it starts with a plan to take a little bit of action every single day. Willpower will determine your life’s outcome. A life of instant gratification and quick results will consist of regrets, emptiness, and failure. A life of willpower will consist of feeling good about yourself, feeling whole, and success (but there are still going to be setbacks). Stop doing what’s easy, its the cowards way out. Its a lot easier to sit at home and eat potato chips then it is to go to the gym, its easier to criticize the quarterback from your chair then it is to get out there and throw the ball. Willpower is daily, consistent, and focused action. Start taking steps and you will get there eventually, believe that. Stop selling yourself short and buying into marketing hype; the only way to get what you want is to make it happen yourself: to make a plan and stick with it every single day until you get what you want.