Did you know that your willpower can run out? I don’t mean that you don’t have enough willpower, I mean that when you apply it, there is not an infinite supply to draw upon even if you are committed. That is, if you are ‘committed’ to too many things.
In the October issue, Wired magazine reported on psychological research that suggests that there is a finite supply of willpower on which we draw. So, if you are determined to do one activity that demands willpower, don’t try to do a whole list of other activities that also demand willpower. As Wired says in that most familiar phrase, “Don’t spread yourself too thin.” Pick and choose where you will employ willpower.
If you read this blog (or my book), you know that I believe in setting boundaries when it comes to what you will keep current – that those boundaries actually give you freedom rather than restraint. Needless to say, I found Wired’s little article (it’s less than a page) exciting. Focus is not only important, it releases the need to constantly dip into the well of willpower.
What it is also suggesting is that if you are trying to change a habit, lose weight, exercise more, stop trying to do it all and select what is most important. If you are trying to read every paper published, every Tweet, attend every gathering, check every email, stop. Choose the most important topics for you at this time, and then select from all the sources that come at you for only those that are most important. You may still have to do some juggling, but you’ll have more energy to do so. And when you decide to further adjust, you’ll have the willpower to do it.
Or, you can chose to do some things with someone else so that you can ‘borrow’ some willpower from them. I have a book club where we each read a different book and report to the rest of the group about the book. In short periods of time, we all have the main messages of several books, and we don’t have to waste our willpower trying to find time to read them all.
I have often thought that the resource in shortest supply is time, yet this little article shows that we can create another shortage if we don’t think about where we must apply ourselves. What do you do that requires the greatest willpower?
What can you do to eliminate a tough choice or harness the will of another? Let’s create a list of options that everyone can use.
Photo by clappstar