A lot of people think about willpower – me more than most, even though I do know the truth, when I stop having a crazy-person grudge match with myself. Here it is. It’s not willpower that will make you succeed, “mind over matter”. It’s planning that will make you succeed, taking your mind out of it altogether.
Success is less about willpower and more about setting things up so that you need to struggle with willpower as little as possible. Success is avoiding the battle.Â It’s a battle you won’t enjoy fighting and you aren’t good at fighting – so get away from it!
The way to make a process or a habit work is to make it mindless. Don’t make yourself work any harder than you need to. Make it easy to ingrain the new habit into your life.
Want to get organized? Get rid of the clutter – throw out what you’re embarrassed of, give away what can be useful, sell what can be profitable. Then use your clean space to put things in the same sensible place every time so you don’t have to think about where they belong. Organization isn’t just for being pretty – it’s for being easy.
Want to get in shape? Find a workout you actually enjoy (they’re there, I promise). Then make exercise a non-negotiable appointment in your calendar. You don’t want to have to convince yourself that’s it’s the right thing to go as if you’re dragging yourself off to serve a jail sentence. You want to make going a matter-of-fact routine, and when you get there you’re doing something fun. Start to think of exercise as a treat in your day, not as a to-do.
Want to lose weight? Only eat at the table, only let healthy food into your house, and plan what you’re going to eat ahead of time. You don’t want to leave yourself the option of eating in your car or eating fast food. You don’t want to have to struggle to make yourself choose healthy over unhealthy options in the cabinet. And you sure don’t want to have to figure out what’s going on that table when you’re already there, hungry.
Want to get focused? Take away your distractions so that you don’t have to fight them. Actively, physically, proactively block them. Give yourself the peace and comfort that you deserve to have to focus. You’d do it for someone else, wouldn’t you?
Stop beating yourself up for not being strong enough, and instead, start giving yourself the tools you need to succeed.