Got Willpower?

imagesSooo….how’s that goal progressing? You wanted to loose 10 pounds but it’s now late summer and you’ve lost only 2!

imagesYou know what you want to change and you’ve set a clear and actionable goal yet the goal feels elusive and motivation has waned. What’s going on??? Calgon take me away! (Ok, I’m showing my age here. 🙂 )

The cause to our woes just might be lack of willpower.

Whatever your goal is, willpower is a critical component to achieving it. Willpower comes in many names: determination, drive, resolve, self-control, etc.. Willpower is the ability to delay gratification and resist short-term temptations in order to meet your long-term goals. It is the capacity to override unwanted thoughts, feelings or impulses; it is a conscious effort to regulate ourselves by ourselves.

images-1Willpower is not a personality trait, a skill or a virtue. Willpower operates like a muscle, which can be honed and strengthened but its supply is limited; we need to budget its use so we have some when it really counts.

Here are some thoughts on how to keep our goal in sight and to keep putting one foot in front of another so we can learn to build and flex our willpower muscle:

images-4Chunk it up. Oftentimes we let go of a goal not because we lack willpower but because we feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the goal. To overcome this we need to chunk (break apart) the goal into actionable parts each one in a sequence that leads to successful completion. The magic of this process is that we derive a sense of satisfaction and pride to propel us towards completion of the next steps. When we reach the end, we will feel a sense of strength and abundance rather than a feeling of exhaustion.

Unknown-1Pre-commit. Along with willpower we need strategies to help us stay on track. One of these is called pre-committing. This technique helps us to remove the temptations we know are likely to test us. For example, if we’re trying to loose 30 pounds, throw out all of the junk food in the house. Create a shopping list before going to the store next time and stick to it! Don’t allow advertising to lure you in to buying something not on your list.

Unknown-2Please yourself not others. It takes an enormous amount of energy to suppress our true and authentic self in order to please others. Doing so depletes our willpower faster than you can say GOAL! When we use this type of self-control in order to please others we are more easily depleted than people who hold true to themselves. When it comes people pleasers, they find themselves at a great disadvantage compared to those who are secure and comfortable with themselves.

imagesRecognize and change unproductive habits. Research confirms that good habits strengthen our willpower. Small habits build self-discipline and self-control.

“We can use decision-making to choose the habits we want to form, use willpower to get the habit started, then – and this is the best part – we can allow the extraordinary power of habit to take over.” – Gretchen Rubin

UnknownRemember the “why” behind your goal. Think beyond the short term. When we can be reminded of the purpose of our goal it can help give us the willpower to stick to new habits to achieve our goals. Weighing the cost of quitting over the work to get there can also help us to stay motivated.

Anticipate obstacles and cogs in the wheel. Doing this helps you to build in plans to manage around or over them. This step will also give us a plan when they arrive so they won’t drain as much of our willpower supply.

“When people have a willpower failure, it’s because they haven’t anticipated a situation that’s going to come along.” – Charles Duhigg

Unknown-1Do important things first. Most self-control mishaps happen at night. Because our willpower is limited, we need to do the most important things on our daily to do list in the morning. As the day progresses it only gets harder to face lack of willpower challenges.

images-3Use positive affirmations. Affirmations will help you to stop the negative self-talk. Why do we keep saying self-defeating or negative things to ourselves yet at the same time hoping that something would change? STOP! Tell yourself that you have the power and determination to stay the course. Visualize what your future will look like, feel like, sound and smell like.

“All that we are is a result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.” – Buddha

UnknownHave an accountability partner. Take the solidarity out of reaching your goals by sharing them with the most important and supportive people in your life. These individuals will help to hold you accountable to reaching your goals by asking questions, removing barriers, and being supportive to your growth.

images-5Cut yourself some slack! You’re going to give into temptation every now and then. That doesn’t’ mean that you’re a defeatist…its just reality! Change is hard! What matters is what you do afterwards. If you’re feeling the urge to beat yourself up, don’t do it! Blaming yourself only reduces your willpower. Showing yourself some self-compassion actually increases your willpower.

Unknown-3Celebrate! Don’t wait until you’ve reached the end of your goal. Take time to celebrate the completion of each successful chunk. I’m not saying to go crazy but it is important to be proud of all the small accomplishments. Be your number one fan tell yourself…..You Rock!!

“The best way to think of willpower is not as a behavioral trait but as a muscle – one that can atrophy or grow stronger depending on how it is used or not.” – Jeffrey Kluger

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Goooaaalll!!!

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Does the word goal make you scrunch your nose and give you the hebbie jeebies? Or does word goal make you think of momentous work? Typically when I talk about setting goals with others I get a reaction of total distain or I get a response of yeah, I know I should have them but man, it’s just too much work!

In the last two posts (WOOP, and Get R Done) I mentioned the value of goals in part but what I’d like to do is to calm the hebbie jeebies and to help show that it really isn’t that much work to set and work on goals. If you want success in love, life, relationships, and your career, set goals and work on them daily!

All professional athletes and successful people use goals to reach a desired state. Whether it is learning how to bend it better than Beckham, running your first half marathon, making more money, finding the love of your life, getting a job promotion, or landing your dream job, goals are the key ingredient to reach the finish line and to achieve your desired future.

“Goals determine what you’re going to be.” – Julius Erving

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Goals provide focus by creating a vision to what we want. By envisioning our ideal future, goal setting can help turn that vision into reality. The act of goal setting helps us to plan the necessary steps and provides the measuring stick to know when we’ve achieved success. Goals help us to choose what we want in life, where we would like to be in a given time period and they set the road map on how to get there.

The goal setting process doesn’t need to be daunting or difficult. A hint for successful completion of goals is to tap into what intrinsically motivates you. Understanding what you enjoy doing and what you are passionate about will help you set goals that are achievable and very rewarding. If you are new at setting goals, knowing what motivates you will help you to start a life long habit of setting and achieving goals.

Yes goals equal work! Just dreaming or wishing for something to happen will never make it so (unless you are living in a Disney movie – talk about hebbie jeebies!)

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Establishing and working towards your goals gives you a sense of meaning and a clearer direction. A great benefit to goal setting and achievement is that you control the direction of change in your life not others. Turn the tables on change and make it largely self-directed. Want a bonus? It’s proven that having and working on your goals will help you feel happier and stronger by being more energized and effective. Sign me up for some of that please!

When you start to think about what you want out of life it will be important to understand the why behind each goal. A goal’s why will help you to stay motivated while you are working towards the finish line. What is each goals purpose? How will your life be better after you’ve achieved it? What are the benefits of reaching the goal? Start the process with thinking about what you’d like to achieve. What will the end result look like, feel like, smell like, taste like. By including your senses it will help you to stay motivated to completing the steps (yes the work) to reach your goals.

“Though we may have desires or bold goals, for whatever reason most of us don’t think we can achieve something beyond what we’re qualified to achieve. Why, I ask, do we let reality interfere with our dreams?” – Simon Sinek

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Be a realistic optimist. You will stumble and fall, you will hit the wall, and you’ll want to give up. Understanding that the road to success is a wild roller coaster ride will help you to set into play contingency plans to overcome the obstacles to reaching your goal. When we know that there will be both known and unforeseen obstacles in the way of reaching a goal, you can have the persistence to proceed in the face of difficulty.

“People with clear, written goals accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine.”  – Brian Tracy

Many people use the start of a new year to set resolutions (goals) but you don’t have to wait until then. There is no time like the present…just think, you could get a 31-day jump on everyone else if you start now!

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“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” – Henry David Thoreau

After taking in all of this information as a framework to start setting goals, here are my thoughts on how to get moving forward:

  1. Write your goals down. This makes your goals specific with actionable time-bound outcomes. Sound like setting SMART goals? Yup, that’s a great place to start! SMART stands for:
    • S = Specific/Significant
    • M = Measurable/Meaningful
    • A = Attainable/Action-oriented
    • R = Relevant/Rewarding
    • T = Time-bound/Trackable

State each goal as a positive statement using action oriented words. Use the words “I promise” to help you stay accountable. Writing your goals down creates a contract and a way of reminding yourself what you need to do to Get R Done. Yearly I set specific health, relationship, financial and career goals. I’ve seen others also include a community, faith, and artistic goal as well; what’s important is that you write them down and put your goals in a place that you can see them daily – out of sight means out of mind.

  1. Create a vision for your goals. When we can wrap a vision around each goal and attach an emotional component we are much more likely to preform the work needed to reach them. Also attaching emotion helps give us the motivation and energy needed to complete the tasks that aren’t as much fun.
  2. Break large goals into sub-goals. Some goals are more complicated and take years to complete. Break these into smaller sub-goals to make them more manageable.
  3. Make a list of obstacles. Think of everything (and everyone – including yourself!) that might stand in the way of reaching each goal. Put a plan into place as to how to overcome each obstacle. This will reduce the obstacle’s influence and increase a successful outcome. Sound familiar? This is the second O in WOOP (Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan).
  4. Block out time on your calendar to work on your goals daily. Protect this time with all of your being. Choose the best time of day where you are most efficient and focused to work on your goals – this is one of the best ways to overcome the “I don’t have time” obstacle. Also it will be important to communicate with those close to you by asking they respect this time. They can also be unofficial accountability partners and get your butt in gear when you aren’t working on your goals.
  5. Learn from others. Reach out to and learn from those who have been successful with your specific goal. Don’t recreate the wheel – ask for guidance and best practices on how to successfully reach your goal. Ask if there were any hidden obstacles that you should be aware of and how did they overcome them.
  6. Have an accountability partner. I’m a firm believer that when you share your goal(s) with others and ask them to periodically check in with you, that you will continue to perform the work it takes to be successful especially when you’ve lost motivation.
  7. Change your thinking and believe. Remove those limiting beliefs. They are the byproduct of information that you were told when you were young. Overcoming these beliefs can be one of the largest obstacles standing in your way of reaching your goals – recognize this and put plans into place to change that way of thinking. Believe that you can accomplish your goals. Belief is the catalyst that activates all of your mental and physical abilities and belief is what will keep you going when you’re battling obstacles.
  8. Create a plan. Now that you’ve written down your goal, attached an emotional component, identified known obstacles, reached out to those who have been successful with your goal, and you have an accountability partner, now you need to develop the actionable steps needed to achieve your goal. Write down the steps in detail. Take those steps and break them into daily tasks and put them on your calendar. Your biggest concern isn’t your skill, ability or intelligence – it is your commitment! At the end of each day, you can reflect upon and know that you’ve taken the actionable steps toward the finish line and success.
  9. Celebrate small successes! When you break your goals into smaller components, build in mini-achievements and reward yourself when you reach them. It’s important to let yourself feel good about all of the progress you’ve made. Also, it’s okay to take a day off to rest or just to goof off. One day won’t hurt your goal and it will reset your perspective by giving you more energy and enthusiasm to roll your sleeves up and Get R Done! Now et out there and set some GOOOAAALLLSSS!

“You control your future, your destiny. What you think about comes about. By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands – your own.” – Mark Victor Hansen

Get R Done!

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Larry the Cable Guy coined the phrase “Get R Done” and I’ve been a fan of how the act of saying it (especially the way he does) can help me buckle down and get things done. Just try it…………..see what I mean! 🙂 Getting R Done, AKA being task oriented, doesn’t always mean that a person has self-discipline. A person can be great at getting things done yet when they also focus on the steps and learning that will help them to grow then they are practicing self-discipline.

Some people view self-discipline as an act of religion or only practiced by up tight and prudish people. I say this just isn’t so!  Look at history and you will see that successful people aren’t successful because they are lucky. Successful people are successful because they are disciplined in their actions, thoughts, and words. They create goals and retain focus on them, they have an understanding that it takes willpower and hard, roll up your sleeves, and roll around in the muck work!

“Self-discipline is an act of cultivation. It requires you to connect today’s actions to tomorrow’s results. There is a season for sowing and a season for reaping. Self-discipline helps you to know which is which.” – Gary Ryan Blair.

Self-discipline isn’t just about having willpower and self-control, its about tackling the wants over needs constant message in our heads. It’s about making choices when our goals are about to get railroaded and choosing to have a long-term focus rather than a short-term focus. And no…self-discipline doesn’t have to mean self-denial. It’s knowing the big picture and how our choices and actions will effect when we reach our targeted goal.

Before we can start practicing self-discipline we need to understand ourselves.  When we understand who we are and what we are capable of, we can then focus on mindful awareness of what we are doing or not doing to get things done. When we identify undisciplined behaviors we can then make a course correction to eliminate them. Maybe try keeping a log when these situations happen so that you can track your progress in remaining self-disciplined.

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The practice of self-discipline won’t work without your conscious commitment to the process. We need to follow through on what we say needs doing. If needed, ask for an accountability partner to help ensure that you are working on staying focused and Getting R Done!

“Self-discipline is awareness of consequences.” – Dalai Lama

Embrace the difficulty of staying disciplined. Self-discipline can be a hard thing to do guys! Listening to that devil on your shoulder sometimes can seem more fun and gratifying yet we need to rely on the angel on the other shoulder to guide our focus back to the big picture and the end goal.

Train your inner voice to help you to Get R Done! This process can help you to regain focus when its lost and to have the courage to keep working to move forward. Remember that the price of discipline is always less than the price of regret.

“We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.” – Jesse Owens.

If we can view self-discipline as a positive effort rather than a mode of denial we can create new habits of thoughts, actions, and words to improve our ability to motivate ourselves to persevere until our goal is achieved.

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A friend asks me each week what I’ll be sharing in my next blog post. Actually, his positive feedback has helped me remain disciplined in maintaining my blog! He is my unofficial accountability partner. 🙂 He recently shared with me that he is motivated by reading my blog topics but he is struggling with how to pull it all together. I shared with him that he has great timing because the pulling together of Personal Mastery concepts requires self-discipline! Here’s my take on it:

  1. Timing is everything. Whatever time of day you are most effective cherish and guard this time. Use it to work on the steps you need to Get R Done! For me, I’m most effective early in the morning so I block out that time to work on my current two primary goals. The first goal is my coaching certification course work and the second is writing for my blog.
  2. Write your goal down. Don’t keep it in your head – because that’s where it will stay! Build a plan to reach your goal by breaking it into workable parts. Again ask for an accountability partner if you’re concerned that the devil on your shoulder my override your drive and focus. This is a difficult area for many people who are feeling stuck in the how too’s of goal setting. (Spoiler Alert! – goal setting or what I like to call goal achievement plans is the topic for next week post.)
  3. Create a vision of your goal and attach an emotional component to it. When emotion is involved we are much more likely to do the work needed to be successful. Attaching an emotion gives the motivation and energy we need to complete the tasks.
  4. Create a goal to do list and a daily to do list and prioritize them. Each workable part you created in step two have smaller tasks that need to be accomplished. The act of checking items off a list can also be a visual motivator to completing a task or reaching your goals.
  5. Don’t wait until you reach the end goal to celebrate. This is a very important step! Celebration of the small successes you’ve just achieved will keep you motivated to keep working at it. Self-discipline is hard but it shouldn’t be painful!
  6. Be positive and be persistent. You know what you want to achieve, you can visualize yourself achieving it, you can feel the joy and pride of accomplishment, and no mater how long it takes or how hard it is YOU CAN DO IT!!

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“Being self-disciplined is the number one component that creates long-term success and it is a required ingredient to accomplish our goals.”