Each and every day in our life, we are presented with situations that demand we make a choice. Should we tell the truth or wriggle our way out of a tough situation be telling a lie? Should we eat the healthy food or gobble up all the junk food in the house? Why do household chores when it is much more fun to lie in bed and read a book. Who wants to do homework when we can watch the latest movie or play computer games?
“Great souls have wills; feeble ones have only wishes.” Chinese Proverb
What you decide to do in tempting situations comes down to one thing only…your will power. Your will power is the quality that controls your impulses and behavior. You might consider these situations to be very trivial but how weak or strong your self-control is, ultimately decides what sort of a person you are likely to become as an adult.
Why do we need will power?
Willpower is the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals. It is one of the most important factors in achieving a healthy, successful and happy life. Willpower determines whether or not you will reach the goals you have set for yourself or you can persevere at tasks others, like your parents, teachers etc. set for you.
Good News for the Strong-Willed:
A study has proved that academic achievement is higher in children who are determined and self disciplined rather than those with high IQs. This is because children with strong will power are better at concentrating and blocking out distractions. So even if you are not the most intelligent child in class, in the long run you can do better in studies, if you have the ability to persevere and focus on your goals.
For those who find it difficult to say no to temptations, procrastinate, waste time or never get things done, here are a few tips to help you develop a strong will power.
“Where the willingness is great, the difficulties cannot be great.” – Niccolo Machiavelli
Decide what’s important
Setting up your priorities goes a long way in helping you become a strong-willed person. Is watching the whole match more important than the result of your final exams? Even if you are a big cricket fan you have to realize that your priority should be your studies. You can easily watch the highlights later or learn the outcome of the match once you are done studying.
Know that anyone can cultivate will power:
Your past mistakes and lapses do not have to become your future failure as well. No one has to remain weak willed unless he wishes to remain so and does not attempt to change his habits. If you are weak in your studies or addicted to wrong type of food, you only have to find the strength to take a new step in the right direction and then keep on walking towards your goal. If you slip up, start afresh again and again and you will find that you go further each time. Never quit.
Make a goal/Write it down
Let’s suppose you want to get rid of a bad habit or improve in some field. Once you have a goal, write it down and check your progress periodically. For example, let’s suppose you are not in the habit of brushing your teeth at night. Make a chart with 30 boxes and each day that you brush your teeth, put a sticker or a smiley face in a box next to the date. Maybe the first month, you’ll have a low score but your score will be better after three months and great after six.
“The biggest enemies of willpower: temptation, self-criticism, and stress. ― Kelly McGonigal
Or you get poor marks in geography. Make a list of chapters in your geography book. Each day, devote 10-15 minutes to this subject and thoroughly revise just 2 pages. Even if you are bored and want to close the book, sternly tell yourself to persevere and stay focused. Put a small tick after every two pages and a big star after each chapter on your list. After two weeks, you will find that you have made great progress and your will power in tackling a difficult subject has strengthened.
Make a list of 4-6 things that you want to change about yourself right now and keep charts or a diary. Visualize the end goal: better grades, better health, cleaner room, a more disciplined you and this will help you in developing a strong will power.
If you have not developed a strong will power, then remove temptations from your vicinity. If you wish to focus on your work or studies, do not study in the room where the TV is placed. If you are addicted to junk food and decide to give it up, don’t keep any in the house.
Be Ready for the Struggle:
It is not always easy to cultivate a strong will power. It is more fun to do things that we want to do rather than things that need to be done, isn’t it? So start in small doses. For example, if you are overweight, promise yourself that you won’t eat candies and lollipops. After a week, say no to cold drinks and chips. After a month, cut our other junk food from your diet and replace them with healthier choices. If you are addicted to TV, computer games, etc, cut down your screen time by 10 minutes per week.
Willpower and self-discipline are vital for achieving success. They are essential for self improvement as they give you more control over your life, help you change and improve habits. Remember your willpower is like a muscle. If you have never used it, initially it will grow tired quickly. With practice and continued use, it will strengthen and take you over the success line like Usain Bolt or Mo Farah sprinting across the Olympic track.
“The most important thing in life is to stop saying 'I wish' and start saying 'I will.' Charles Dickens