Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

Our willpower is severely limited, and every demand for self-restraint draws from a single source. They will look at their list and blame their lack of willpower when they should be blaming their list and their lack of focus. No one has enough willpower for that list. Sometimes a single willpower challenge will feel like one demand too many.

It is easy to blame their failure on a lack of willpower or motivation because if they had an extraordinary amount of either, they could have powered through, but the real culprit was their poor strategy. Anything that is outside of our comfort zone is going to trigger resistance. We want to shrink the commitment so that we only take a tiny step outside our comfort zone – expanding it slightly. Once our Elephant gets comfortable with that, we can encourage him to take additional steps. Our comfort zone will eventually expand. We always want to have enough willpower to keep our habit alive. Shrinking down our commitment ensures we will always be able to do it. These tiny steps aren’t a finish line, they are a starting line. You can always do more when you are motivated to do so, but don’t rely on motivation. Continue reading Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

Environmental Design is a Great Substitute for Willpower

Willpower is not an effective long-term strategy for behavior change because it is inconstant. When we are stressed-out, tired, and hungry our willpower will leave us vulnerable to any temptations we encounter. Fortunately for us the more committed we are, the less willpower we will need. Shaping your environment will shield you from temptation.  By removing the temptations that reward bad habits, we can extinguish them without exerting our willpower. It doesn’t require willpower to shape our environment. It requires commitment. Continue reading Environmental Design is a Great Substitute for Willpower

The Right Words are a Powerful Agent of Change

“I don’t miss a workout” is a lot more powerful than “I can’t miss a workout.” ‘I can’t is weak. It connotes an external impediment. The phrase, “I can’t miss a workout” implies you really want to skip your workout, but someone is making you. Even if that someone is you, the phrase lacks commitment. It says to anyone that hears it that you are being forced against your will. It makes us feel like we are losing our autonomy. Even if we are the ones imposing the constraint, it makes us feel like we are less in control. It makes our Elephant feel like it is being bullied by our Rider. This will cause the Elephant to rebel when it has had enough. The Rider will be powerless to stop the two-ton Elephant when this happens. When you say, “I don’t miss workouts,” you are saying that you are the type of person that works out consistently because that is who you are. When a salesman says, they can’t give you a discount you might ask to speak to his manager because the salesman is saying the decision is out of his hands. He would like to provide you with a discount, but his manager or company policy is preventing him. Continue reading The Right Words are a Powerful Agent of Change

THE MOTIVATION FALLACY

Motivation isn’t the solution; motivation is the problem. Please, let me explain. The belief that you need motivation to take action is going to prevent you from forming any habits. Motivation isn’t an effective strategy for long-term behavior change for two reasons. Motivation fluctuates from day to day and tends to decrease over time. Habits not only fly under the radar of our conscious brain, but they also fly under the radar of our emotions. Just like we savor the first bite of our meal more than the last, we tend to be less motivated the more times we repeat a routine. Boredom is the biggest obstacle to excellence. A lot of people hit the gym for two or three weeks, then lose their motivation to go and quit. They blame their lack of motivation, but it is their belief that they need to be motivated to go that is the problem. So, if motivation isn’t the solution, what is? Continue reading THE MOTIVATION FALLACY

Discover a Surprising Willpower Mantra that Actually Works!

Ego Depletion (Illustrations by Ted Slampyak)

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USE THE POWER OF LANGUAGE TO REINFORCE YOUR IDENTITY

“A powerful agent is the right word. Whenever we come upon one of those intensely right words … the resulting effect is physical as well as spiritual, and electrically prompt.” Mark Twain

Have you ever told someone you can’t have a piece of cake because you were on a diet or that you can’t go to lunch because you need to go to the gym? If you have, you are probably feeling pretty good about yourself right now. What if I told you that the language used in these two examples is weak? Confused? Don’t be. I will explain how the right words will improve your willpower, bolster your self-esteem, and make overcoming temptations easier. Continue reading “Discover a Surprising Willpower Mantra that Actually Works!”