Do you ever think “I can do it, I’ll just power through it,” and then two days later, you quit?
It’s tiring, isn’t it? If all you’re doing is plowing through a task or an event, chances are that you’ll burn out.
That’s why willpower is overrated.
The other day, I came across an article by Benjamin Hardy that said, “If your life requires willpower, you haven’t fully determined what you want.” In other words, if you have to power through something, then you haven’t made a decision.
“Until you decide,” Hardy writes, “you’ll be required to use willpower, and will continue making minimal progress.”
Is that true? I wondered. So, as usual, I decided to test it out on myself. What, for me, takes a lot of willpower?
I confess…it’s networking.
I used to think I could power through events, like I was the Wonder Woman of business. No sweat, I can survive this, I’d think. I am strong! I am social! I am a networker! I’d remind myself of all the great things about networking: new relationships, new business opportunities, free wine. And that’s how I’d rally myself to get out the door.
But rallying yourself is draining. And often it doesn’t work. Some days, I’d rationalize myself out of going. I’m not Wonder Woman tonight. I’m going home to my kids – they need me. Plus, Stephen never goes to networking events, and look how successful he is. Maybe they’re not all they’re cracked up to be.
Hardy is right: I hadn’t decided. That’s why it was so hard to make myself go.
So I asked myself: Do I really want this? Is networking something that I really want to do?
The answer is yes. Sure, I don’t love those meetings. I’d rather go home and tuck myself into bed. But the truth is I get a lot out of them. I’ve met wonderful people, and created some deeply meaningful, lifelong relationships. I’ve gotten some fantastic business opportunities. And I always learn something. They’re definitely worth it.
So, right now, I hereby decide: I want networking to be a part of my life and business.
Willpower is finicky. It’s like a gas tank that’s randomly empty sometimes and full other times. If you’re hungry, tired, cold, sick, or bored, it’s likely to drain suddenly.
It’s about as reliable as the weather channel. You definitely don’t want to bank on it.
That’s not to say it can’t be helpful, or that you shouldn’t take advantage when you have it. But it shouldn’t be your primary source of motivation, because that’s often an indicator of a deeper problem.
What’s something you’ve been powering through?
Have you really decided that you want to do it?
No? That’s okay. Walk away. Don’t feel guilty. Just let it go. You can always come back to it.
If yes, then connect to your reasons for doing it. Why is it meaningful? Why is it important?
Once you’ve decided, the best thing to do is to create an environment that’s conducive to doing what you need to do.
If you’ve decided to use your treadmill more, get it out of the dark, dingy basement and put it in the living room, where you can look out the window or watch TV (or better yet, get out your vision board!).
If you’ve decided to write a business plan, make your desk or office space somewhere really pleasant, somewhere you like being. Then you’ll spend more time there. It’ll take less willpower to stay in it.
Put yourself in places where you’re likely to do what you need to do. Surround yourself with things that point you toward your goal.
What does that look like for you?
Incidentally, my friend Roberta (who I met by networking J ) just sent me a flyer about a yoga networking event. Now that is my kind of environment.
I’d love to hear how this works for you. Tell me your experiences below!
Now go out and shine.