Does this sound familiar? Have you heard any of these before?
- I’ll build my business when I find a cofounder
- I’ll sign up to the gym tomorrow
- I’ll write my book when I find the right publisher
- I’ll phone my father when I have more time
- I’ll pick up that call from my mother next time
- I’ll start my new diet tomorrow
Willpower is a fascinating subject. Some people seem to have it in spades. Others seem to falter at the first hurdle.
The longer we resist temptation, the more likely we are to give in later. – Dan Ariely
Dan Ariely believes that we could be in trouble; he suggests that willpower doesn’t work. Dan uses the term ‘ego depletion’ whereby we essentially argue with ourselves until we break down, give in and lose.
Dan suggest that whilst willpower rarely works in the long term, rules and habit making can work.
A few tips that you can try:
Acknowledge Ego Depletion
Understand that you will face difficult decisions and that you will be in a battle with yourself. Sometimes knowing this is enough for you to move on. In the case of avoiding work, understand the triggers that mean you don’t start what you should be doing and recognise them
In the visually rewarding marshmallow experiment, we see that young children have a hilariously difficult time when deciding between one marshmallow now or two later. The children that seemed to perform better created strategies to avoid the temptation. Some children sat on their hands or redirected their attention. Could this work for you?
BJ Fogg advocates that most people fail at creating habits because they try to do too much too soon. Forget the big change, start with a tiny habit.
Floss one tooth, walk for three minutes, do two pushups.
– BJ Fogg, Ph.D.
To create new habits, start with simplifying the behaviour until it is ridiculously small. It then becomes easy. Identify a time in your routine when you can perform this action. This time becomes the trigger. Start doing this every day – you’ll do it because it’s so easy. After a few weeks, let me know whether you are still flossing one tooth – perhaps it’s two, or whether you doing two pushups – it might be three!
Even if you complete something small or move toward your goal in a tiny way. Reward yourself. Reinforce those habits by rewarding the trigger, and the action. Startups can be similar, take little steps and little bets to achieve the prize.
Never do today what you can put off till tomorrow. Delay may give clearer light as to what is best to be done.
– Aaron Burr
You probably won’t have more time. You probably won’t make or break habits unless you really choose to. Most people continue with their existing lives. Most people don’t do anything different.
Be someone who does.
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