Back in the old days, I used to play war games on my Atari computer. To destroy the maximum number of enemies I had to thoughtfully manage the ammunition stock. I can still envision the 3 available types:
- Bullets that had little impact but unlimited stock.
- Grenades that were more efficient but had restricted availability and
- Bombs that could destroy in one go any enemy on the screen (yesss! ☺). As you could only have a maximum of two in stock, you had to keep them dearly for the last battle. The evil chief commander was waiting with his herd of bodyguards.
In a sense life is pretty similar, we try to evolve as individuals but may get stuck. We were raised with the belief that:
If there is a good will, there is great way― William Shakespeare
What a nice statement about human nature… But there is a catch? You just need to carefully choose WHEN to use will power…
Just like in war games, you only get a limited number of super powerbombs a day: your “Will-Power”. You may choose to operate on that muscle but this comes at a cost. You are running fast forward towards burnout.
You may think: “My life is tough and I have no other choice but to be strong. Using will power is my coping mechanism.”
Yes, life is tough, but there is a better way… Because will power is a very scarce resource…
…Using it outside of the 3 following contexts is pointless
- Save your life if you happen to meet a hungry bear ☺.
- Install new habits.
- Change your environment.
1. Save your life
I assume the title is self-explanatory. Next ☺.
2. Install new habits
Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny. ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Darren HARDY the ex-publisher of Success Magazine spent years of his life studying success and came up with a very similar sequence:
Environment => Beliefs => Choices => Actions => Habits => Success (or failure)
He boiled down success to the very strict minimum but useful. He emphasizes like crazy the fact that what we do daily determines our future. Check out his book, The Compound Effect, if interested in more details.
If you want to lose weight which of the 2 options would you select?
- Eat healthy daily and go overboard on Sundays.
- Go overboard every day and apply an extreme diet on Sundays.
Seems like an obvious choice. Now, why would people think they can act differently in other areas of their lives?
We are what we repeatedly do — Aristotle
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Will power is your best ammunition, use it to install new habits that are transformative, not on individual tasks with limited impacts.
3. Change your environment
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. ― Jim ROHN
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The true meaning of the above quote is that our environment has a profound impact on us and the environment refers to everything we are exposed to during the day: friends, colleagues, news, fiction and non-fiction books, movies, soap operas, passions, sport…
Our brain is wired for “adaptation” but the key operating mode of adaptation is not at all conscious adaptation but subconscious mimicry. In fact, we have neurons specialized in mimicry!
So whether you are a courageous change agent or a lazy dude, the easiest way to change is to modify your environment. Shift what you are exposed to. Turn off the radio during the commute and turn on Jim ROHN or any other author. Stop commenting on the latest news during lunch break and discuss personal growth topics. Leave the tramway one station prior to your destination and walk the remaining distance…
Will power is a very scarce resource, use it wisely:
1. Install new habits.
2. Reshape your environment so that it fits your objectives and values.