Will Power for Wimps


There are two main powers of the will:


  1. The power to reject strong urges to act in certain ways.
  2. The power to act in certain ways even when they are associated with pain.


The secret to overcoming self-destructive lusts is not Herculean strength, but a tiny bit of patience. Strong urges automatically lose their force rapidly. This fact is non-intuitive and surprising. For example, if you open the door to the fridge just before dinner and see a delicious piece of cake that you know you shouldn’t eat, you might feel an overwhelming urge to grab it and shove it in your mouth. You do not need to defeat the tantalizing deliciousness of cake. All you need to do is procrastinate eating it, and only for a few moments. Close the door and walk away. If you can just create a delay of five minutes – and in truth it’s often as short as thirty seconds – then the urge will naturally pass. It turns out that impulses are flighty, fickle, weak little creatures. They explode into consciousness dramatically but burn through their fuel quickly. Do not fight them; outlast them.


The secret to accomplishing goals is not fire in the belly, but a tiny bit of faith. Motivation does not cause action, it results from action. Again, this is a non-intuitive and surprising fact. Motivation is momentum. Don’t wait for feelings of motivation before you act; start doing the activity first, and the feelings of motivation will follow. Confucius said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” The thought of a thousand mile journey is overwhelming and de-motivating. A single step, though, is easy. Once you take that step, the motivation will start building immediately. You’ll want to take another, and then ten more, and then fifty. Break your intimidating goal into simple steps, and then tackle the first one, without waiting for feelings of motivation, and the feelings will then come.

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 Posted by on February 23, 2012
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