Way back when I went to college, technology didn’t lend itself to the easy publishing it enables today. Now, you can write down your thoughts, theories, and questions and send them out into the world for near immediate feedback. A very cool thing, indeed.
Benjamin P. Hardy, who is pursuing PhD in Organizational Psychology just published such an essay, called, Willpower Doesn’t Work. Here’s How to Actually Change Your Life.
He made some good points, primarily agreeing with Helia’s assumption that “Willpower is for people who are still uncertain about what they want to do,” thereby coming to the conclusion that if you want to get something done, or make a change of some kind, what you must work on isn’t your willpower, but the strength of your commitment.
It’s a valid point, but not as the always-definitive answer, just one possibility. I think our battles with harnessing willpower can be more complicated than that.
It’s entirely possible to feel totally committed to something, yet find you are not in a very good position to achieve it.
I see the struggle of willpower as more of a journey, where you’ve made a solid decision—and it can be one you have fully committed to—only to find you’re on this road to achieving it where you must overcome the obstacles which may stand in your way.
Those obstacles, can be a variety of issues, and often, they turn out to be a variety of other people.
Thankfully, Hardy does eventually arrive at this conclusion as well, when he ends his essay with a section on, “Creating conditions that make success inevitable” and leveling his sights on environmental factors, He writes;
“No matter how much internal resolve you have, you will fail to change your life if you don’t change your environment.
This is where the willpower approach fails. The willpower approach doesn’t focus on changing the environment, but instead, on increasing personal efforts to overcome the current environment. What ends up happening?Eventually you succumb to your environment despite your greatest efforts to resist.
The environment is more powerful than your internal resolve. As a human-being, you always take on the form of the environments you continually place yourself.”
“The addict only needs to change one thing… their whole damn life.”
— Ben Hill, Ph.D.
These environmental factors are what we speak of, when we talk story in Managing with Aloha about sense of place and its effects, and when we remind each other of what our parents used to say; “you are the company you keep.”
When you feel your willpower is faltering, get some clarity for yourself on what the real issue is:
—Might it be your level of commitment, and that you’ve fallen prey to ‘shoulding’ instead of truly believing in your decision to proceed?
[ Reviewing this Archived Article might help: The instinctive, natural selection of Wanting ]
—Or are there other environmental factors, whether people, place, or things, which stand in your way? Identify what those factors are, and deal with them.
Banish all of your possibility robbers, and the amount of willpower you have may surprise you.
Sunday Mālama has been when I will share my off-the-workplace-highway scenic route kind of posts. Not as a normal weekly feature, but whenever they seem to be writing themselves.
You can access the Sunday Mālama archives via this category link, also residing with my site footnotes.
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