Is “willpower” a dirty word for you, former procrastinators? Do you cringe when you read that a mini habit is a very small positive behavior that you force yourself to do every day? Actually, will power is our God-given ally. Forcing ourselves is better than waiting until we “feel like it” – and easier. It removes weight from our shoulders. Ironically, the results are highly motivating!
Last week we saw that motivation, though great, is an unreliable way to accomplish goals or form a new habit. (Motivation Misconceptions, September 26, 2021)
But isn’t willpower unreliable? Doesn’t it weaken and make it hard to hang in and form a habit? Sometimes and yes. But willpower is more controllable.
Rely on motivation and you could wait all week. Take action and motivation is likely to show up. Think, “action leads to motivation.” With a goal of “Do one pushup” author Stephen Guise explains in Mini Habits how he moved into a full work out and a fit body. His goal is still “Do one push up.”
Guise names three reasons why willpower is better:
- Willpower is reliable. Forcing yourself to do something no matter what is more dependable than waiting for feelings. That’s because…
- Willpower grows stronger with use – like a muscle. We can improve our ability to act in spite of resistant feelings.
- Willpower strategies are schedule friendly. You can plan a behavior and do it without motivation.
Mini Habits Avoid Willpower Depletion
In spite of these good points, will power can deplete. We just give out. The five biggest drains are below (in no special order) along with reasons mini habits do not drain willpower. They preserve and strengthen it.
Effort. Mini habits require so little effort they reduce the chance of burnout. Plus, you’ve accomplished something.
Perceived difficulty. Starting in a small way sets things in motion. Momentum and motivation move in. Starting brings your mind into reality. (“This job is not so huge.”) Even with an intimidating job, the aim of a mini habit is so small, there’s no risk of quitting.
Negative effect (unpleasant feelings). Your mini habit commitment is so small you won’t feel negative about it.
Subjective fatigue (not fatigue). The battle in your mind could be how you perceive your strength compared to the task. Acting on a mini habit brings a sense of power and energy.
Blood glucose levels. Low sugar levels make us feel tired. Mini habits use only a tiny bit of energy and willpower; they provide a boost.
Knowing how willpower works helps us take advantage of this God-given resource. We are fearfully and wonderfully made.
When do you exercise willpower? Making meals, going to work…