Do you want to increase your Will power?  Ever feel like not doing something when, maybe you should? Was Time a consideration?

Well, I wanted to increase my Will power to be able to overcome my indecision to “do” the things I kept putting off. But I’m not going to blame what I cannot control or manage. Time does what it does, regardless.

I realized that my indecisions were more about how I “felt”. It was my “feelings” that kept me from actually “doing”. I needed the Will power to move from “feeling” to “doing”. I needed the Will power to “start”; the seemingly difficult first step toward “doing”. But, making the first step requires me to control and manage my feelings accordingly. If I don’t, things are left undone.

At first, controlling and steering my feelings toward “starting” was challenging. Only after moments of mental arm wrestling with my feelings, would I “start”. Still, it did not mean I had arrested my feelings. I had to lock them down for the duration of the task, and that required persistent Will-action, discipline and Attention. Otherwise, at any moment I could “feel” like stopping. After all, it was usually a task I did not “feel” like doing in the first place. So, who is to stop “me” from stopping?

Feelings are powerful and, often enough, stubborn. But I still have to get out of bed on Monday morning. Otherwise, I may not go to work. If I don’t take decisive action, I will not get beyond “not” doing, to actually “doing”. I will not make the first step. I will not “start”.

For the task at hand, I am on my way. However, the thought of continuing to write requires constant Will-action and discipline. But, the mind does what it does. Other thoughts dip into my stream of consciousness and I get distracted.  Maybe I just don’t “feel” like writing any longer. Perhaps I would rather do something else. But, “wait a minute”, I tell myself. “What is to stop these same thoughts and feelings from arising in the middle of any other task”? It would be like starting and stalling without finishing anything.

Now, I realize that every task does not have to be finished the same day. But, I should at least do more than just start. Mindful of this motivates me to continue to write at least one more sentence; one more paragraph. Still, the idea is to “finish” the task in a timely fashion.

Sometimes, managing my feelings seems like too much mental trouble, and I would rather not go into the psychology of the process every time I have to “start” a task. Instead, I talk myself into or out of any task with a simple admonishment. I tell myself, with a firm and willful tone, “Just shut up and do it!!”.  This seems to work for me. It is my way of saying yes to No. It makes going through the morass of indecision about starting any task, more manageable. Starting becomes easier and finishing, more likely.

By the way, my approach did not come out of thin air. It is based on a simple exercise I learned from the great American psychologist William James. This exercise is the training of the Will. It helps me. It will help you too.

Here is the exercise. Once in a while, take on an undesirable task, a small one, one that can wait, one you just don’t feel like doing.  Start and complete it. You may already have one nagging you for some time now. Take it on. If you already have your own self-talk, talk to your “self”. If you don’t and wish to use, “Just shut up and do it!!”, feel free.

This simple exercise has helped me with my workouts too. Perhaps you can relate. At times I really don’t “feel” like it. But then, I admonish myself into starting and, from here, I usually finish. I feel good, healthy, and glad I started. Here again, I get to say yes to No, and now I work out regularly.

Every time I exercise my Will, regardless of the task, “starting” becomes easier and finishing, more certain. However, like starting any new habit, strengthening it requires repetition. We can all agree, a strong Will power has beneficial and universal life and career applications.

“Once you have made the first step into the Mile toward your goal, you will always have less than a mile to go. Don’t stop now”

Of course, a strong Will works in reverse. There are times when saying no to Yes results in a better course of action. Sometimes, I would rather just lay on the sofa and watch a great movie even though I should be doing something else.

This presents an opportunity to test the strength of my Will power. But why would I do that when I am enjoying myself? The answer, of course, is to say no to Yes and, in so doing, strengthen my Will power. Still, it is just a test; a test I take only from time to time. Try it! 

“The butcher who does not take time out to sharpen his cleaver will not cut much meat”.

William James’ exercise helps me to better control and direct my emotions while at the same time increase my Will power. It makes it easier for me to start and to finish; to say yes to No.

“Living is a “doing” proposition fueled by emotions and steered by our thoughts”.

It’s Now O’ Clock, time to START training!

Photoby Drew Beamer on unsplash

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