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Change Is Possible, But Willpower Alone Is Not Enough

Do you have aspects about yourself you'd like to change and improve upon? Let's face it, who amongst us doesn't? Would you like to e.g.: become more focused and less susceptible to distractions? How would you like to be more self-disciplined, with an enviable self-control which leaves others in awe? How about having more genuine self-confidence, rather than projecting a fake smile belying terrified eyes? This can all be achieved, but how easily it can be achieved depends on you, and how sincerely you're willing to work for it.

What so many don't realise is that change is possible at all times. No one has to wait for Monday, pay day, or even New Year to roll around again to make shift happen. Every second of every day is an opportunity to start something fresh; be it a brave new attitude, an empowering new habit, a positive confidence adjustment, an invigorating new health regime... seriously, anything. Too many people get trapped into making excuses, because excuses make everything easier and more comfortable in the moment, and easy is almost always preferable to challenging. But on the cost of this is high because there's no growth without challenge.


The tricky thing with excuses is that they offer weak characters a permanent solution to not having to try or persist, rather than having to endure the temporary labour of goal attainment. To achieve something - anything - is temporary, it requires a "What's next?" mindset, with a side order of relentless perseverance. This represents too much like hard work for the those with a high tolerance for mediocrity and it'll do. Let me give you an example: Let's say you want to lose 20lbs in body weight to help lower your blood pressure, and to reduce your ever increasing risk of diabetes. Okay, you know what needs to be done, you need to exercise more, reduce the quantity, and improve the quality of what you consume. This is the goal.

Those with an untrained and unfocused mindset may start strong and full of enthusiasm, but will inevitably begin to expend more energy looking for reasons NOT to exercise, work hard, eat well and persist. They will attempt to inject a degree of complexity into the mix (it's too cold/wet to go out and train, I have my period, I don't have time, I hate salad) and use it as an excuse to NOT do what they said they would do.

Commitment is doing the thing you said you'd do, long after the initial mood has changed

Those with trained and focused mindsets however stay committed to the goal, regardless of trials and challenges. In our example here, the total weight loss goal is 20lbs, but it won't all come off at once (dammit). Healthy weight loss must occur gradually, ideally at a rate of approximately 2lbs a week. So after Week 1 an ideal amount of 2lbs has been dropped through exercise and a healthy eating plan, but this achievement is temporary because there is 18lbs to go. This is where the lure of excuses ensnares the comfort-seeking mindsets. Excuses spare them the work, the sacrifice, the self-reflection and the prevailing discomfort of having to keep going.

Developed mindsets - e.g.: mindsets that you have control over - have a laser focus, they seek out strategies and daily motivation to keep them going when they don't feel like it; because they're human too don't forget. Optimised mindsets don't rely on willpower alone, as their owners choose to develop goal-achieving strategies to help drive their decision making processes, whilst always mindfully pushing their mission forward.

Willpower alone is not enough, and the secret here is to avoid exhausting your delicate and easily depleted willpower. For example, and in the context of our weight loss example, you'd be wise to e.g.: not to fill your fridge with tempting junk (because you can't eat what's not there), or to throw out your takeaway menus, whilst making your own healthy lunches for work, rather than buying unhelpful, goal-busting alternatives, when your blood sugars inevitably sink and your cravings kick in. It's important and just plain sensible to mindfully set yourself up for success than for self-sabotaging defeat. From this moment on - because you really don't need to wait for Monday, pay day, or the New Year - start making good, strong, positive, and healthy decisions. Maintain your blood sugars with good stuff, so your cravings don't get a look in and start tempting y

ou with bad stuff, because if your body is allowed to think it's starving, it'll make you crave high fat, sugar and carbs to ensure your survival because it thinks there's a food shortage it needs to help you survive. Oh, and it'll burn your fat reserves last, so that strategy is doomed.


A depleted phone battery

If you liken your willpower to the battery on your smartphone, the more you use it, the less you have. You can't expect to use your smartphone all day and then have 100% power remaining. Well, your finite willpower works in much the same way. If your willpower spends all day resisting biscuits, or other empty calorie laden junk, by evening your willpower will be depleted making you less able to resist that cheeky little dessert after dinner "because you deserve it". By now you're tired and it's easier to justify that "treat". By making this poor choice however, you've just blown up your great work and results from earlier, which is hugely demoralising - isn't it? - and can ultimately lead to mission surrender.

With a little understanding of where the pitfalls are, and how temptation is likely to disguise itself and why, you can really make a difference this time. Knowledge is power; always has been and always will be. There are lots of tips, tricks and hacks you can use to your advantage this time, if you really, really want to affect a change in your life, here is another helpful mindset resource you might find interesting: Focus: Don't Break The Chain.


Can you visualise coming home from work, college, shopping, wherever? You go into your bedroom and start removing your clothes, to change into something more comfortable. Take a moment to think about the process of unbuttoning, unzipping and stepping out of one set of clothes, before putting on a different set of clothes. Can you "see" it? Relatively easy for the majority of us, I think.

Now what I'm suggesting you try, if you're willing and able, is to use this visualisation for changing the aspects of yourself you wish to improve upon. For example: if you want to lose weight, visualise yourself as you currently are and decide you're going to change. Imagine unzipping yourself out of this heavier version of yourself and leaving the excess fat suit crumpled on your bedroom floor. Now select the leaner, healthier version of yourself from your wardrobe, and zip yourself into that. The only thing is, once you've stepped into your Lean Body, there is absolutely, definitely no room for cake, pizza or alcohol. Besides, you don't want to corrupt or infect your super new fit, lean, and healthy body with the dirty, empty calories, fat, and toxins from your old lifestyle decisions, do you?

This principle works across the board. If you don't have an abundance of self-confidence, but need to perform well at a job interview, step into your Confidence Suit - even if it's only for a little while (to begin with), it'll be just enough time to get you the job. If you're a bugger for succumbing to distractions at work, which limits your productivity, select a Self-Discipline Suit - if only for the one day at a time. The more you practice this visualisation. and the more time you spend in your Confidence Suit, the more quickly you will become genuinely confident, because those thought and behaviour patterns will become second nature. You must BE the energy you wish to attract.

As Henry Ford famously said: "Whether you think you can, or whether you think you can't, you're right!" You become what you repeatedly think about - good or bad, so for the love of custard start choosing the good, strong, powerful and positive! Be highly selective in what you tell yourself, because you are listening. Negative self-talk can hobble you before you even start, so banish it, refuse to think it. When you start talking yourself down, in negative words and tone, stop, acknowledge what you're doing and course correct. Apologise to yourself (as you would your best friend) for being so mean and then reframe and rephrase your appraisal of yourself and the situation, taking more self-care as you go. If you wouldn't speak to your best friend in such a manner, why would you heap such crap upon yourself?

If you have been hypercritical of yourself for all of these years and it hasn't helped you become who you want to be, what do you have to lose by taking more self-care of yourself and seeing where that takes you?

If this current version of you isn't working for you any more, if you've outgrown outdated attitudes and behaviours, change them! Step out of the old version of you, and step into a new and improved version. Zip yourself into the person you want to be, be it leaner, stronger, more educated, more productive, more successful, or happy. It's a choice you get to make, and it all starts in your mind. We update our phones more than we update our own operating systems, why is that? You are allowed to reboot yourself whenever, and as often, as you want to - go for it! If you fall off "the wagon" today just chalk it up to a temporary lapse and start again immediately; don't quit altogether!

Reveal your new self. What does s/he look like, sound like? How does s/he stand, speak, listen, think and behave? What kind of people would your new self attract into their world, and where would those people be found? What positive and success-generating habits does your new, fabulous self maintain? How does your new self make decisions, now that your operating system has been updated? What bugs and fixes have been addressed?

Just remember that willpower isn't actually all that powerful, and weakens the more you use it, so don't use it all up by having to avoid all the things you mindlessly keep exposing yourself to (e.g.: a freezer full of ice cream - stop buying it). The change you seek is possible, but willpower alone is not enough, so set yourself up with success-generating habits and strategies, and most importantly, visualise yourself as already having achieved your goal. These actions do need to be repeated constantly. Zig Ziglar once said: "People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well neither does bathing, that's why we recommend it daily". You can't wish for it, you have to work for it, but it all starts in your head.

If you'd like me to help you and accompany you on this journey, please don't hesitate to get in touch. Good luck!


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