7 Ways to Will What You Want and Change Your Life
What do you want for your life? For your relationships? For your career? For your finances? For your health? The question for you is one of will. Do you have the will to turn your dreams into reality? In this article, you’ll learn the 7 ways to build your willpower so that you can achieve the life you want.
“Will is our internal power, which can never be affected by the outside world. It is our final trump card. If action is what we do when we still have some agency over our situation, the will is what we depend on when agency has all but disappeared.” ~ Ryan Holiday
The will to win.
Not my will, but God’s will be done.
Ready, willing, and able.
I love when a seemingly benign word shows up in my spirit and lingers there for a while. I’ve come to believe there are no coincidences, that everything has a reason or a lesson if we are open to receive it. Many Aha’s lie dormant, waiting for us to become aware of them and receive their insight. That’s why when the word will came to me and stayed for a while, I knew there was a message for me, and perhaps for you too.
From the phrases above, we get a sense, maybe even a newfound appreciation, of how meaningful and powerful our will is to our lives. What does this little word we toss around really mean? I love how Ryan Holiday defines it as our internal power, which can never be affected by the outside world. So, we know that the will comes from within. It is intrinsically motivated. It is a force that leads us and compels us even when we don’t feel like going on. Merriam-Webster defines will as the firm desire or determination. And Britannica states that will is to cause or try to cause (something) to happen by using the power of your mind.
Will then is fortitude. It is having a dogged determination to keep going even in the face of adversity, and even when it might seem illogical or impractical to endure. It seems to me that will goes beyond the mind, even betrays it at times. In his book, The Obstacle is the Way, Holiday said, “Will is the discipline of the heart and soul.” Will comes from that place that defies reason or at least is not beholden to it. Will is its own force and it has the power to move mountains.
The question for you, and for me, is one of will. Do we have the will?
I remember when I was a doctoral student, and a group of professors had taken a cohort of us on an educational trip to South Africa. I recall visiting a school in Johannesburg or Soweto. I believe the students were the equivalent of high school students in the U.S. On the blackboard in the rear of one of the classrooms, I saw the letters, P.H.D. The students obviously knew we were doctoral students and had written those letters on the board. But what struck me were the words they placed next to those three letters: Prayer. Hard work. Determination. I took a picture of the blackboard and used it as a wallpaper on my computer to remind me of that experience and as motivation to continue pursuing my degree even on days when I felt like giving up. I willed myself to finish.
Today, I will myself to stick to my daily morning and evening routines, even when I’m tired. I wake up at 5:00 AM and am usually in bed by 10:00 PM. I will myself to read, write, and exercise when I don’t have the inspiration or motivation. I’ve even willed myself out of self-pity and melancholy when I find myself going down a ruminating path of gloom and doom. I’ve learned that We Will What We Want.
What do you will for your life? for your relationships? For your career? For your finances? For your health? What are you willing to do to turn your dreams into reality? What I know for sure is that you will never read or say that word again and not think about the force of your will to effect change in your life and in the lives of others.
7 Ways to Increase Your Will Power
If you want to strengthen your will power, here are seven ways to do it starting today.
- Set stretch goals. Always set goals that are meaningful to you and stretch you outside your comfort zone. Make sure the goals are attainable. If a goal is easily within reach, you don’t need will power to achieve it. Will power requires you to dig deep and stay the course when facing obstacles or when you lose motivation. Keep going. That’s will.
- Build a new habit. Like goals, creating a new habit requires you to go against the status quo or what is comfortable. Start with one habit that matters to you. And even when you don’t feel like it, even when your mind allows you to make an excuse (e.g., I’m tired tonight), do it anyway. What I tell myself is, “I don’t feel like it, but I’m going to do it anyway.” And when I follow through on my commitment, I feel great. It’s how I became a daily meditator and journaler, and how I am becoming more disciplined in drinking water and in exercising. The will outmatches the mind and the body.
- Reward yourself. The psychology is that what gets rewarded gets repeated, and what gets repeated gets easier, and what gets easier, gets better. You know where I’m going with this. It will take more will power at the start of something. But as you continue, you get acclimated to what it takes to be successful. It becomes a part of your routine or your life. When you reward yourself, it also becomes more enjoyable.
- Acknowledge and celebrate your effort. You don’t control the outcome, but you do control your effort. Even when things don’t turn out exactly as you hoped, you can be proud if you did your best. And remember, best is relative. It’s not perfection. It’s simply, did you do your best given the context and resources available to you at the time.
- Give yourself grace. You won’t always follow through or persevere. You won’t. And that’s okay. The good news is you can always start again. You can always choose again. Don’t spend any energy beating yourself up about what you did or didn’t do. Will yourself to keep going and choose again.
- Learn from others and get support. When you see others who are similar to you achieving goals or having a skill you want to build, their success will boost your self-confidence that you can also be successful. Learn from them. Seek their help. Let friends or your partner know what you’re trying to accomplish and ask for their support.
- Get clear about what you want and why. This is essential to building your will power. If a goal, dream, habit, or skill, is not deeply connected to your values, purpose, or sense of meaning in life, you likely will abandon it when facing obstacles. Trying to please, satisfy, or compete with others won’t do it. You must believe that what you’re doing is inherently good for you and your life, that it will help others, or that it is tied to your sense of meaning and purpose or core values. Know your why.
I’m sure there are other ways to boost your will power. If you have a strong will, think about how you developed it and how you can channel your will to help you create the live of your dreams.
Remember this mantra with new meaning – I Can. I Will. Watch Me.
#yourahalife #healthyachieving #resilience #selfbelief #willpower #iwillwhatiwant
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