If you’re required to exert willpower to do something, there is an obvious internal conflict. You want to eat the cookie, but you also want to be healthy. Environment versus goal…”
According to bestselling author and organisational psychology specialist Ben Hardy, willpower won’t work! This is because studies have shown we only have a limited amount of willpower, so to focus on strengthening it is counterproductive, and to rely on to achieve results will only get us so far. In short we won’t stay motivated for long enough to achieve the goal because we will run out of steam. To create long lasting change, we need to shape the environment around us, change habits for a steady period of time, and remove any potential hurdles (decision fatigue). Change your habits, and change your life! Over time, changing habits also rewires the brain, and of course once you start achieving goals due to this, that in itself also provides added motivation.
Thinking that you need a boost – read my previous blog on motivation
What do you want to achieve and when by? Can’t drive to Goal Town if you don’t know where you’re going! Get REALLY clear on what you want to achieve here. Research has shown having goals that are both specific and challenging, will 90% of the time have a better outcome. So break it down into measurable targets, and aim high. Create a timeline. Set smaller goals amongst the bigger targets, and break bigger ones down into smaller pieces to stay motivated. If you can’t see the top of the mountain or the end of the tunnel for too long, it is too easy to give up. Plus when we achieve what we want, our brains get a big dose of “feel good” Dopamine neurotransmitters – so work that to your advantage.
Envision this goal. Imagine how it will look and feel.
“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Remove Decision Fatigue
This is a BIG one. If your goal is to exercise more in the mornings, lay your gym gear out the night before and pre-blend a protein smoothie… If your goal is to eat better, remove all unhealthy food from the house, do a healthy shop the day before you plan to cook, or pre-prepare nourishing meals for the entire busy work week ahead. Studies prove that the more decisions our brain has to make, the more tired our brains become.
This can play out in a few different ways:
- Self-control starts plummeting
- Overwhelm = stop completely, do nothing, accept fate e.g. “It’s too hard”
If you combine a busy life and tiredness with not-preparing and not optimising your environment- you can see why it would be a very fast road to Fail Town. Navigate to success instead by preparing in advance and removing any choices you might need to make, or steps between you and your goal.
Celebrate Small WINS
We tend to only properly celebrate the bigger, impressive, outstanding achievements (e.g. end of year exams, getting married, finishing a degree at university, being promoted at work…), but if you think about it, most of our life is spent between these large milestones. So make sure to celebrate the journey and the smaller wins too.
Tell a friend, parent, boss, mentor, Facebook… anyone that you can check in with weekly to ensure you are still in the game. Make it public. Team up with another person who shares the same goal – for some mutually beneficial motivation and feedback… And nothing like some healthy competition to get you a good boost!
Get clear on your direction. Be accountable. Change your surroundings to best meet your goals, and success is almost inevitable.