Your ONE Thing Series – #4

Willpower - Why Link Your Success to Something that isn't Always There?


Most of us do not understand willpower.  “Where there’s a will, there’s a way” is not as simple as it may seem.  When it comes to willpower – timing IS everything.

Gary Keller, author of “The ONE Thing”, the book that I am highlighting in this “Your ONE Thing” Series talks about several studies that have been done to show that our willpower is greatly dependent on our energy levels during the day.  (Refer to his book to get a great synopsis of these very interesting studies!)

Since our brain uses 1/5 of our caloric intake, and since the parts of our brain that run our bodies – like breathing and heartbeat, etc. always get first use of available glucose, the part of our brain that does our thinking and use of willpower gets the last use of available glucose.

So – it all makes sense then, that when we are hungriest, we are at our weakest as far as willpower is concerned!  (Dieters – take note!)

Although I would like to take credit for this observation, I can’t – but I can tell you it is true because I personally experience it quite often!  (I can’t do “brain work” and think when I am hungry!)

Calling on our willpower is not as easy as just turning on a switch.  If we haven’t eaten recently and are in a low-glucose state, we are going to be weak when it comes to willpower and brain thinking ability.

Timing our use of our willpower is of utmost importance.  Using our willpower is likened to fast-twitch muscle fibers – they are strong, but only for a short period of time, then they need re-charged.  Once we have used our brain for thinking, the less thinking power we have for use later.  Willpower is a muscle that needs to be re-charged.  Mr. Keller likens it to the battery charge indicator on our phones going from green to red.

How to manage your willpower:

  1. Make doing what matters MOST – FIRST.
  2. Make sure that you have eaten before doing your most critical task.
  3. Never do your most critical task on an empty stomach (i.e. – low blood glucose levels).
  4. Do not attempt to do a critical task after an emotionally draining engagement.

Things that drain your willpower:

  • Implementing new habits/behaviors
  • Taking tests/using brain power
  • Arguments/heated discussions
  • Long and engaging conversations
  • Doing something you don’t enjoy
  • Suppressing impulses/fighting temptations
  • Restraining emotions
  • Filtering distractions
  • Holding back aggression/anger

As you can see, knowing what your day is going to be like and planning for using your willpower is key to success.

The key to using willpower successfully to engage and complete your MOST important task of the day is going to happen first thing in your day.  Why?  Because you have eaten and you have not gone through any of the willpower-zapping activities mentioned above.  Your mind and willpower muscle is fresh and energized.  The early bird really does get the worm!

Have you ever noticed that your best decision making and best thinking and ideas seem to appear when you are most relaxed and enjoying vacation time?

NOW you know why!

Where there is a WILL – there IS a way!  Time your best for when your willpower muscle is strongest and watch your success and best work rise to the surface!

What can you change in your life to make maximum use of your willpower?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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