How to Own Your Willpower (Why You Don’t Eat Pizza at 6AM)
When was the last time you woke up and crushed a cocktail and pizza at 6AM? I’m serious —and here’s why I’m asking you this: because most likely that’s never happened except during freshman year of College.
(Damn, OK…that was just me.)
And here’s the reason I’m sharing this with you:
Willpower is not an unlimited resource, and decision fatigue is a real thing.
This is why hitting the gym, meditating, and doing all of those little habits you and I know are good, like really good for us are much easier first thing in the morning when we’re operating at a full charge.
Because by 8:00PM, we’ve made hundreds, if not thousands of decisions, been bombarded with stimulus and can’t pick between standard marinara sauce at the store and spicy marinara.
(Pro tip: always pick spicy.)
And one of the keys to high performance in your life, business, career, personal life is protecting and leveraging your willpower to ensure you are making your biggest decisions, at the right times, to create exponential results.
Especially during COVID-19 where all of us are now working from home and doing laundry and watching your favorite Netflix show are one click away.
Because guess what? At the end of the day our lives are nothing but a compounding of all our choices and decisions: most small, some medium, and sure —some massive.
In this post, we’re going to dive into owning your willpower and protecting your ability to make decisions from a place of abundance, not scarcity, so you can save your clearest energy for the things that matter.
Let’s dive in.
Step 1: Automate, Automate, Automate
The first step to owning your willpower is to become obsessed with the art and science of automation.
Said simply, automation is creating built-in systems and processes that make repeatable behaviors or decisions automatic.
No matter who you are, there are places in your life where you are making the same unnecessary decisions every day that are draining your most precious resources: willpower, time, energy and attention.
You dress every day —buy the same outfit, shirt, pants, etc 7 times instead of only having one.
You eat every single day —outsource your lunch meals to a local service and you’ve saved yourself hours.
You workout every day —have your training gear ready to go every single morning without thinking about it.
Sure, you may not be the next GQ model on Instagram, but you’re going to have precious energy for the things that actually matter.
The more you can automate the inconsequential decisions of your life that don’t move the needle —the more you have left over for the things that really matter.
Like, you know, improving your finances, growing your revenue, creating your content, connecting with the people you love and being an all around high performer.
ACTION: Determine at least one recurring decision you’re making that will now be automatic.
Step 2: Protect Your Prime Time
With a fully charged willpower battery, the morning is going to be your prime time to do your hardest, most effective work. Including time to work on your personal growth, hammer our your creative work or do your most strategic thinking.
When I teach and train clients, I have them start with a 90 minute focused block of time (or the equivalent in Pomodoro’s) to generate states of performance and flow, while tackling their most mentally demanding work.
Research done by Steven Kotler at the Flow Genome Project states this is the fastest way to tap into a flow state on a daily basis: a time block of total concentration where distractions are not accessible to you.
As he says, if you’re not willing to close the door to your office and tell people you’re doing focused work, then don’t expect to create high level results.
Everyone who does this reports not only massive performance increases, but getting to the end of their day with deep satisfaction.
ACTION: Start your day off with at least 30, 60, or 90 minutes of undistracted work.
3. Harness the Vegan Principle.
A Vegan walks into a restaurant, scans the menu —and typically knows exactly what he or she wants within a few minutes while everyone else obsesses over which dish they’re going to get.
While others waste precious resources analyzing and living in indecision, the vegan has already moved on to bigger and better things.
They’re not wasting time, energy or precious mental bandwidth.
Why does this matter?
Indecision is a momentum killer —and yet so many people live in this place 24/7, being taken for a joyride by the paradox of choice.
When faced with too many options, we do nothing.
The Vegan is able to make a fast decision because they’re clear about their values and principles —and doesn’t even see or notice 80% of the menu.
When you’re clear about your life and what you stand for, you delete tons of options, make fast decisions and live in a state of constant momentum.
ACTION: Filter all of your decisions based on your North Star vision.
4. Seek compelling environments.
Another way to protect your willpower is to enter environments that are aligned with your targets —and do the heavy lifting for you.
Now, with COVID-19, this has become harder to replicate —but ask yourself a question:
Will you do more focused and creative work in your kitchen, or in a room that you’ve converted into an office that has your goals easily accessible and compels you to do your best work?
Take a moment to reflect on your current environments —and how you can align them with your end goal.
These include where and how you workout, do your best work, engage with your family and core relationships, study and more.
Even small changes like cleaning out your office, pasting your North Star vision in front of your computer, putting up a relic of inspiration that reminds you of what you’re doing —can be enough to shift you in a powerful way.
ACTION: Curate your environments and make one shift to make them more powerful today.
Own Your Willpower, Own Your Life
One of the tragic parts of being in the trenches coaching people to do what they really want, including to start their entrepreneurial dream, launch a platform and pursue their goals is seeing someone engage in the Rollercoaster Effect.
The Rollercoaster Effect goes like this:
One gets inspired by a new goal, target or vision —and declares they’re “all in.”
And they are…for a few weeks. But then adversity hits or the high of starting has faded —and after a couple rough days, they quit the whole thing.
A couple months go by, and they remember what they wanted, so they start again.
And then the cycle repeats itself over and over again.
The lesson here is simple: consistency matters more than intensity.
It is better to workout every day for 15 minutes than to run a half-marathon one Saturday a month.
It is better to work on your business every day for two focused hours than having an 8 hour marathon once every few weeks.
Consistency builds character and trains you to overcome resistance, fear, doubt and overwhelm.
Here are some of my favorite resources to help you own your willpower and ensure you bring what matters to you to life.
The 1% Rule —reverse engineer your goals.
RescueTime —free app to track your time online.
2020 Masterclass —this will help you get clear on priorities.
Which of these connected with you? I’d love to hear it!