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Forget Will Power!

I was a guest on a radio show tonight and had the opportunity to listen to other experts before I was introduced. Each offered strategies and tips to set and achieve goals. They talked about “mindsets” and “attitudes” and “commitment” … and there was something really wrong with the whole thing.

I found myself getting more and more irritated – and then it hit me. They were all talking about achieving goals through diehard determination. Putting your nose to the grindstone, focusing on the target, working your ‘mind muscles’ and using (drum roll please)…WILL POWER! Shudder.

When it was my turn to speak, I respectfully disagreed with all of them. The host was thrilled – after all, nothing makes talk radio hotter than a disagreement among the guests. But I really, really, really think they were all wrong.

Here’s my take on the whole Will Power thing:

Will Power is all about doing something you don’t want to do so that you’ll get the reward that comes when and if you reach your goal. “So what’s wrong with that?” you might ask. “After all – it works, doesn’t it?”

Yes, Will Power works – as long as you’ve had enough sleep, have no in-laws, teenagers or ex-lovers hanging around you, have all your bills paid, have a steady income and a working car.

But the minute your car breaks down or your boss yells at you or your teenager gets detention…well, everyone knows the only way to deal with that is a Big Mac, supersize fries and a chocolate milkshake. Right?

If you’re like most people, stuff happens. And when that stuff happens, Will Power fizzles at the first (or at least second) sign of stress.

So this year, I suggest that you forget Will Power. You’ll only set yourself up to fail and end up giving your mother-in-law an opportunity to gloat.

But what are you supposed to do? Give up on your goal??? Heck no! Instead of Will Power – use Willingness Power. Here’s how:

(1)Decide what you want (that’s your goal).

(2)Figure out what’s in it for you to achieve that goal…I mean really what’s in it for you? Don’t mess around with this. You need to know bottom line all the way down to your soul, WHY DO YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE THIS GOAL?

(3)Determine the downside of achieving your goal. Every good thing has a downside – even winning the lottery. When we try to ignore that downside, we end up subconsciously sabotaging our own success.

(4)Strategize a plan for managing or even eliminating your downside.

My favorite example of this goes back to the time I was managing a Jenny Craig Weight Loss Centre back in the 90’s. My client (we’ll call her “Elaine”) was 5 pounds from her goal weight when suddenly she started going in the wrong direction. The first week she gained 2 pounds and claimed she was PMSing. By the second week she had gained another 2 pounds and I knew something was up. I asked her if anything had changed at home and she told me that her new body made her want to go out and date again. The problem was, she was married! Her face got pale and she got quiet for a moment as she came to the realization that she didn’t trust herself to stay faithful to her husband. She was sabotaging her weight loss because it was safer to be overweight.

We talked for a while until Elaine had made a firm decision about her husband – she loved him and knew to the bottom of her soul that she would never cheat on him. As she wiped her tears, I asked her to review all of the reasons she wanted to be thin. She could barely sit still as she began to list them all.  Then she sat up straight, smiled and declared, “Nothing is going to stop me.” Three weeks later, she hit her goal and has maintained it to this day! That is what Willingness Power is all about.

Determine your goal. List what’s in it for you to achieve it. Figure out the downside of your success and create a plan to manage the downside so that it doesn’t scare you anymore. Then forget Will Power. Your Willingnes Power will take you all the way to the finish line!

See you on the Fast Track!


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