How to Lose All Your Willpower and Still Be Productive
The moment I sat down at my favorite restaurant, the waiter placed a big basked of bread in front of me. I had been trying to eliminate processed carbohydrates from my diet because I feel like crap after I eat them…but they taste oh-so-good. It took every ounce of my willpower to avoid eating them for even a minute. But with that warm bread directly in front of my vision and within inches of my reach, my willpower failed me.
Willpower is the weakest link in my system. When put to the test, time after time, it lets me down.
Most people try to strengthen their willpower through various practices and mindsets. Yet, even the strongest willpower is permeable to our deepest desires for pleasure.
Sure, some people have impeccable willpower and can depend on it to maintain productivity. A Navy Seal could probably stare at a donut all day long without taking a bite. But most of us aren’t Navy Seals. Expecting to have the willpower of a Navy Seal, and not planning for mishaps, is not a sustainable system.
We’d all like to think everything in our lives can be perfect 100% of the time, but it’s just not the case. A football coach wouldn’t train his punter to become his starting Quarterback, as he would only be setting his team up to fail.
Fortunately, there’s an alternative to trying to achieve perfect willpower: prevent your willpower from being tested in the first place.
It was hard for me to accept that my willpower would never be good enough to enable me to stick to my healthiest and most ambitious habits. However, in the interest of getting better results, I accepted reality and put my self in the best position to succeed.
Instead of continuing to test my willpower, I started creating environments where I wasn’t dependent on my willpower at all. More specifically, I…
- Decrease the amount of energy required to execute on good habits
- Increase the amount of energy required to execute on bad habits
Now, instead of feeling like a basketball player playing baseball, I feel like an NFL player playing high school football. Everything is easier.
How You Can Reduce The Need for Willpower
…To Wake Up Earlier
To avoid hitting the snooze button and wake up earlier, place your alarm clock ten feet away from your bed. That way, you have to get out of bed and walk over to the alarm clock. It’s a lot easier to hit the snooze button when it’s right next to your bed. But once you’re out of bed, it’s easier to stay out of bed.
…To Eat Healthier
To eat healthier, don’t keep any junk food in your house. If when you have a craving for junk food, you see a Twix bar in your cabinet, it would require a lot of willpower not to eat it. However, if you would have to go out to the store and buy it, your willpower is far less strained.
…To Write More
To write more, make a time in your day dedicated to writing. That way, you don’t have to make effort to fit it into your busy schedule.
Creating better environments
Improving willpower requires 80% of the effort but only yields 20% of the results. Creating better environments requires 20% of the effort and yields 80% of the results. Being dependent on willpower is not a sustainable system.
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