in Business, Creativity, Motivation, Philosophy, Psychology, Science

Don’t Use The Force – An Alternative Approach To Willpower

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

Lately a ton of people have asked me about how to overcome procrastination and how to gain more willpower.

I watched Star Wars 1–6 in preparation for watching “The Force Awakens” and one thing that crossed my mind was how Anakin was struggling and fighting with his emotions.

It didn’t help to be told to be “mindful of your thoughts”. Granted, this is fiction but there’s a lot we can learn from it.

Somehow I feel that perhaps there’s a better way to view “the force”.

We try to get rid of the discomfort, thinking that we should feel like working, eating well and exercising. Instead of, you know, procrastinating, eating bad food, not exercising, and so on.

The bad news is that the discomfort we feel when attempting to do something that’s “hard” isn’t going to go away.

What if we instead of fighting our emotions, as if we should be feeling something else, instead accepted those emotions and acted in spite of them?

You see, willpower is a limited resource that we have to keep filling up. Even if we learn how to squeeze as much as we can out of it, it’s not self-generating.

A far better way to handle it is recognizing: “Alright, right now I’m feeling the feels. I’ll let them flow through me while I sit down and do the work. It doesn’t have to be inspired or great. It’s doesn’t have to be a struggle. It is what it is.”

Skellig Michael

This town knows how to rock.

That, to me, is not necessarily having willpower. It’s not about controlling or forcing away our emotions or struggling with them.

It’s about recognizing what’s happening and accepting it. Sitting with the discomfort rather than fighting it.

That being said, some people would argue that it’s exactly what willpower is. However, there’s a lot of room for interpretation so I’ll let each person define it how they want.

I’m more for creating systems that enable you to do more of what you want and less of what you don’t want.

We can go in with the very best of intentions but if the system isn’t set up to enable that, we’re not going to have a good time.

In the words of W. Edwards Deming: “A bad system will beat a good person every time.”


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