This is not a post about powerful individuals named Will(iam/helm/bur), though perhaps I will compile a list of such individuals one day. This is a post about the very important, finite, resource that exists within us. Self control is another way of naming it. So lets talk about willpower!
I would posit that willpower is necessary, though not sufficient, for any sort of sustained success. I realize that genius+obsession can produce some amazing results, but I would argue that an element of discipline is what separates the luminaries we know from the great minds that we do not. Obviously, luck and discrimination have a tremendous amount of influence on who makes it into the historical record, but I think this also strengthens my case. Only those possessing a natural or cultivated reservoir of willpower could face down the impediments of misfortune and oppression.
Willpower really is a finite resource! And this impacts us in many many ways. For instance people are more moral in the morning because they have the stores of willpower to resist immoral temptation. So this extends beyond being a better motivated worker, willpower determines our ability to improve our life in all ways. This is why I am thinking about ways to increase my willpower.
Having read a bunch of stuff online I think its safe to say a lot of what you’ll read is crap. But there are a few prescriptions that are universally mentioned and pass the sniff test. They are also all pretty interrelated. Stress management is an obvious one, some stress is not a bad thing but too much and/or persistent stress are certainly bad for you. When you lower stress then you need to exert less willpower to tamper down the instinct to freak out. Some of the agreed upon strategies to improve willpower are great methods of managing stress. Meditating is one example. Meditating has been shown to have all of the benefits, and I believe it directly exercises self control as well as having positive impacts on the rest of your life. Another is to eat right. It takes a great amount of self control to not eat food when you are hungry, and energy that you could use on a constructive project ends up being burned on food-intake management. Now some people really do need to gain self-control over what they eat, but anyone who has put themselves on a diet or a strict mealtime schedule knows how frustrating that temptation to eat can become. The last tried and true method is to sleep enough. This makes sense because feeling rested is way better than being stressed and tired, and sleeping is when you recharge everything in your body that there is to recharge.
So while I work on increasing the self-control that I do have, I also have to work within the ‘willpower budget’ that I have. This means that I need to identify the parts of my life where I need to use my will and where can I just sort of trust my instincts to lead me down the right path. I am of the opinion that the best way to use self-control in the long run is to use it on one aspect of your life until you establish a good practice. Once you have developed this new habit, then you no longer need to exert much willpower to instinctually do the right thing, and then you can apply your willpower on some new area of need. So this means I need to perform a life-audit and determine where my healthy habits exist, and where my willpower would be best applied. Should be fun!