I’m beginning to think the art of being succinct could be a little will power challenge for me!
In part 1 (here) we covered the first 3 steps to Build Your Self Control Muscle:
B.E WILLING TO USE IT
So now it’s time to:
D.ETERMINE WHAT REALLY MAKES YOU HAPPY.
As I’ve mentioned, many of the actions that could be seen as will power failings are simply habits we perform almost on auto-pilot to meet some perceived need. But do they? What are you expecting from that indulgence… and does it deliver?
* Our brain is attracted to the promise of a reward and it’s vital to distinguish between that dopamine fuelled wanting and genuine happiness.
* In my experience when something really makes me happy, then that feeling will be present before, during and after the experience… rather than beginning with anxious indecision and justification – followed by an all too brief ‘happiness’ – to be immediately replaced by guilt or disappointment.
=> When you determine it’s a dopamine fuelled ‘want’ that will only lead to guilt, disappoint or at best apathy rather than genuine happiness… know that the urge will eventually pass on its own – like a wave – even if you don’t act on it.
Here’s a technique to stretch the analogy further:
Surf the urge.
When you feel the urge, stop and observe the physical sensations …slow your breathing, imagine the urge or the irritation as a wave and ride out the feelings.
You don’t ‘have to do it’ to ‘get it out’… the feeling will pass whether you indulge it or not, your choice is how you want to be feeling when you come out the other side?
=> When you determine what really does make you happy it’s worth stacking the odds in favour of this activity. It is our natural inclination to pursue the path of least resistance… regardless of what is actually best for us. Imagine you’re not in your strongest ‘state’ – perhaps you’re tired, stressed, emotional – all 3? Even though you know going for a walk in the fresh air with your tunes pumping is going to help you feel a whole lot better it also takes effort! The easier, safe and familiar path of least resistance is to wallow in front of the TV, while refreshing face-book, and eating aimlessly. Specifically here are 3 steps to stake the odds towards a will power win:
- Remind yourself of the benefit – ideally actually document (perhaps via iphone voice memo or photo) how you felt last time you chose the win option. Yes, this needs to be done ahead of time.
- Remove friction associated with the choice you want to make. E.g. Have your gym gear ready to go.
- Add friction to the choice you want to avoid. E.g. Unplug the TV and remove all junk or trigger food from the house.
Implementation point: Determine 3 things – that are easily accessible to you that truly make you happy… so by accessible I mean things that are not limited by more money, energy or time than you have available right now.
Perhaps: a walk somewhere stunning, soak in a bubble bath, phone conversation with a dear friend overseas? These activities will have you feeling great before, during and after… and they are your upgrades to replace those old energy and will power sapping habits.
E.NLIST SOCIAL SUPPORT.
…it’s easy to think this challenge is all on YOU. It’s not.
Although accepting 100% responsibility for your thoughts, decisions, actions and results is vital – why go it alone when you have the opportunity to support and be supported?
* Regardless of whether you’re actively seeking it or not the will power of the people around you will have an effect on your own will power decisions:
Chick #1. “Hey hon, how’s your day been? Am trying to go wine free this week but would love a little vino… hmmm, might go for a walk to distract – what are you up too?x”
Chick #2. “Go you hon, that’s a big effort! Had super busy day – chillaxing with second vino, YUM, is gorgeous!x”
…and there’s a decent waiver in the will power of chick #1.
You’ve been there right? Whether it’s cigarettes, dessert, skipping the gym in favour of the pub… whatever…
=> Luckily from step 1. Awareness; you know your triggers, the times when you have less will power. These are the times to avoid the people and situations that YOU KNOW from past experiences will present will power challenges. If they can’t be avoided they can be planned for.
* It’s also useful to know anytime you feel excluded or disrespected you will feel more inclined to give in on your will power challenge.
=> So, how about spending as much time as possible with people who ARE a positive, supportive influence? Friends, family – perhaps with a competitive edge such as group training or team sport? If you can’t afford a personal trainer and have a friend who’d like to lose weight I’ve seen tremendous results when 2 people with a weight loss goal email each other their food each day.
If you’re after the support of someone who wasted years fighting will power before learning to use my mind to support my fat loss success, then my Plant Positive Journal will walk you through the most impactful actions in sculpting a plant strong body and life you love, helping you to both avoid my mistakes and take advantage of my learnings.
It details everything that makes staying fit and lean easy.
In the Plant Positive Journal, you’ll implement one action at a time to create the habits that will guide your health for a lifetime.
Implementation point: Think of the will power support crew you would most benefit from having… and go about building this crew! Specifically find 1 person this week with a similar will power challenge they would love to get better at. (food diary? alcohol free Monday-Friday? gym 3 days?) Agree to support and hold each other accountable – and also commit to how + when exactly you will do this.
F.OLLOW YOUR BIGGEST WANT.
Your ‘biggest want’ is that goal and likely the feelings associated with achieving it that you seek before all else. What is it? When you feel ready to give in, what can do take strength from?
* To follow your biggest want requires building your ability to handle temporary discomfort in exchange for the attainment of your long term goal.
* It also means being compelled enough to change your behaviour rather than allowing the ‘promise of change’ to fix your feelings. To explain, whatever that most exciting goal is, the one that you love to fantasize about – it’s vital you go about taking the steps to change your behaviours and your life rather than just getting lost in imagining how succeeding will change your life.
=> a deceptively simple trick to stay focused on your biggest want is to frame (and reframe) everything you say that will help you achieve that want.
E.g. “I have to go to the gym” becomes “I want to go to the gym” …it really is that easy, ‘have’, ‘must’, ‘can’t’ are all words that carry pressure – who wants more pressure? Not me! When I say ‘want’ ‘would like to’ ‘can’ – I feel in control. I have a choice. It also leads me to think of WHY I ‘want’ to… yep, that compelling goal or biggest want.
=> a scarily effective strategy to ensure that which you don’t want to think about dominates your mind time, is to suppress it. Is there something you’re trying to avoid… and is pushing the thought away making it come back stronger?
This is called Ironic Rebound – and it’s worth avoiding! It’s similar to the Romeo & Juliet effect, where you feel deeper desire when something is forbidden.
The solution? We’ve already covered it with the surfing the urge technique. Acknowledge the feeling – with curiosity rather than judgement – and ride it out. It’ll pass… while it does the best thing to be bringing to the forefront of your mind is Your Biggest Want.
Implementation point: What is it Your Biggest Want and what feelings will achieving it allow you, and all those you love to experience? Picture yourself winning your will power challenge, doing it easily and effortlessly… notice what you’re telling yourself… and how great it feels to prove to yourself that you can…
Awareness. Willingness to Train Your Self Control. Self Compassion. Remembering what really makes you Feel Good and what You Really Want will work.
The most important factor on the will power journey is to base your expectations on your ideal future and to learn from, then disregard any will power frustrations of the past. Past challenges don’t define you. Your will power future and the results it brings is whatever you want it to be.