There are two forces that provide the energy to move us into action. One of them pulls us and the other one pushes us. I call the first force “I want”, and the second one “I will”. We spoke yesterday of the pull of motivation; “I want”. Today I want to talk about the push of “I will”.
In simple terms will-power or just “will” is very similar in concept to Newton’s idea of force. Force is the effort involved to move something into motion against some resistance. In physics the “resistance” is typically something like gravity; for instance the effort involved in lifting something heavy. With your practice the resistance might take the form of the preference of one of your selves to lie in bed a bit little longer rather than getting up.
Will is just a muscle, and like any muscle it gets stronger with use, but gets smaller without. If you have ever had any strength, fitness or stretching routine and taken a break for a while and then gone back, you will know exactly what I mean by this.
Will is the primary capability behind self-discipline. The strength of self-discipline is apparently a strong predictor for people’s ability to shape their own future. I think that most people have a fixed mindset around their own self discipline; you either have it or you don’t. But that’s wrong. It’s just another muscle, and your self perception of whether you have it or not isn’t something you need to hold on it. You can author a different image of yourself, and its never too late to.
We can’t physically see the size of our will muscle but we experience its relative strength when starting out on a new practice or when we increase our practice intensity or frequency; It’s harder, more effortful and more uncomfortable at the beginning. But practice makes perfect but especially makes stronger. The key is practice, and our practice is the key.
So if there was such a thing as a will-power coach or trainer, what advice do you imagine they might give to someone starting out on building the strength of their will. Probably exactly the same advice that a normal Personal trainer would give to someone wanting to increase their physical strength.
First up, choose a challenge that is appropriate to what you’re able to “lift”. For a practice this means the frequency and intensity of your practice.; “How many times a week are you going to practice and for how long each time?”.
I recommend that you set a frequency goal of at least three times a week. The more often you do it the more opportunity you have to practice and to build a rhythm. But the consistency of meeting your goal is more important than the frequency. That’s because meeting your goal impacts on your belief in yourself and you should take care with that.
In terms of how long you practice for; you can start off with anything from five minutes upwards. Use your Hacker skills to experiment and see what works for you. The sweet spot is where you’re tapping into the motivating energy of both the “I want” of the Master and the “I will” of the Grunt. The Master wants to get a sense of satisfaction that something meaningful has been achieved. The Grunt wants a challenge that they feel they can conquer. When your Hacker finds this sweet spot you have both pull and push working on your side. It’s just elementary physics and engineering.