My Way: Willpower Or Choices – Part 2

fitman-1Last week I talked about the word willpower and how choice may be the better way to look at it. I talked about how people tend to get in their own way when it comes to their goals and that generally people are able to do more than they give themselves credit for. This week in part two of this three-part series, I want to talk about what drives a person to make bad choices and prevents them from changing. Unfortunately, I don’t have some magic trick that will make your mind change like the flip of a light switch. I do, however hope that I can make you think about what may be stopping you from reaching your goals.

You see, for a person to make the right choices and use their willpower the key component is they have to want to change. If a person does not really want to make changes, then they are pretty unlikely to make choices that will lead them to a healthier lifestyle. If you are doing it because someone else is telling you that you need to, instead of wanting to do it for yourself, chances are you will struggle. You’ve probably heard this expression before, but I think it’s true. If you don’t think it’s important, then you make excuses, if you do think it’s important, then you make it happen.

While making changes does come down to choices, it’s not a single choice that makes up the change. To really change we have to change our habits and our lifestyle. To me there are three major steps that need to take place in order to do so:

1) You have to make the decision that you want to change. How badly you want to change is going to be a big factor in how likely you are to succeed.

2) You have to discover what it is you are doing that’s keeping you from changing. What bad habits do you have and how can you change them? What kind of triggers do you have and how can you realize them or avoid them?

3) Once you figure out what you need to do to change, figure out a way to enjoy the process of becoming who you want to be. If you don’t enjoy the process, it will be difficult to make sustainable change.tumblr_m2eea16N221qh851po1_500

There are many different methods to changing a habit and each individual will find success in different ways. Some people respond well going cold turkey. They just cut things out of their life and force themselves to change. (On a side note it seems like the majority of people I know who were successful at quitting smoking did it this way – something to think about.) Some people need a gradual drop off. Some people respond well to a reward system. No matter what works for you, to really change you have to alter your habits. Regardless, one single poor choice doesn’t mean you have failed. One poor choice doesn’t mean it’s time to throw in the towel. Learn from these mishaps and look for patters. In my opinion failing isn’t falling down, it’s falling down and not getting back up again, or worse – never trying to begin with.

For me personally, I’m more of the cold turkey type. What I like to do is figure out what I want to do and then announce it to the world. I will tell everyone I know what my plans are, because I really hate going back to people and telling them I didn’t do what I said I would. For me that’s the ultimate accountability. I always hear it takes 16 or 21 days, or whatever the number is, to really break a habit. I find for me that by forcing myself to do something, it becomes real. After a time I no longer crave the things I used to, or even if I do, I’m proud enough that I haven’t had them in so long that I don’t want to mess that up. That’s what works for me, but not everyone is the same.

One thing I’ve noticed that is a big factor for many people is a low self-esteem. This is where getting in your own way comes into play. Call me crazy, but I really believe everyone out there can make positive changes to their body. Sure it’s going to be easier for some than it is for others, but it can be done. Anyone can change if they dig deep and really try. I haven’t met a single person yet who was out of shape and decided to change that wasn’t able to do more than they thought they could. I understand you may not have a lot of self-confidence to begin with, but if you give yourself a shot and stick with it I bet you’ll be surprised by what you are actually capable of. It’s not really a question of can you? It’s a question of will you?seat-dbell-should-press-a-male

Changing your ways may not be all about a single choice, but a single choice is what will start the process. You can’t change a habit overnight, so you must keep working on it. I believe that working on thinking about choices is a good way to start. That said, as with all my material, it’s all based on personal experiences and observations. If you have different ideas or thoughts on how people can overcome their self-doubt and make better choices, I’d love to hear it!

Happy Lifting!

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16 comments for “My Way: Willpower Or Choices – Part 2

  1. February 14, 2013 at 6:05 am

    Wow, you wrote what I have been thinking exactly. Nice job. Maybe all of this will motivate someone to change. Theres a good feeling to knowing someone changed for better because of you.

    • February 14, 2013 at 2:51 pm

      Thanks for the nice comment! I do always hope I can reach someone. Even if I make other people mad in the process. If I can help someone change for the better it’s well worth it!

  2. February 10, 2013 at 12:41 am

    Interesting article. I wish they would make a Willpower supplement!

    I started my blog after losing 50 lbs. to hold myself accountable, and it works! It’s a great way to get an online support group of sorts – we feed off each others’ positive energy.


    • February 10, 2013 at 12:41 pm

      Haha a willpower supplement, there’s a million dollar idea! Yeah I started my blog for the same reason, definitely works! What I didn’t expect was that support group aspect and how everyone comes together to help each other. It’s pretty amazing! Thanks for the comment, and as you know I love your blog! 🙂

  3. Anonymous
    February 8, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    Nice article. It is difficult to initiate will power when you are clinically depressed. So many people who feel like that have failed at the gym or any other endeavor, fail miserably, because they may be only mildly depressed. This is when training partners, encouragement, perhaps ssri medication can assist to get that person to a point where they may be willing to accomplish goals, hence self esteem may improve. Just like bodybuilding recovery from depression is a process not an event, and the benefits of exercise to help with depression/anxiety are fantastic. in therapy, exercise is mostly on a treatment plan( I am a therapist) but the willingness ( not will power) to go to the gym can only be accomplished if the person is well enough to be willing. That is the key.

    • February 8, 2013 at 3:33 pm

      Very good points and I really thank you for your insights. Definitely you won’t be able to do something if you are willing to do so. I have witnessed what depression can do to people and it’s not pretty. I like to hear that exercise is used as a part of the healing process though, and that makes total sense! It’s actually even further evidence that making fitness a part of your life can really bring you happiness. Thank you!

  4. February 8, 2013 at 10:54 am

    I’m the opposite of you Colin. I don’t announce anything. I find if I do it’s like it has taken the place of what I intend to do. Instead I’m very vague about what I’m aiming to accomplish. I never say I’m going to get to X, I just say I’ll see what happens. Then I’m forced to make it happen. They are different tactics, but they both obviously work for us! Great read as always, I look forward to next week.

    • February 8, 2013 at 2:34 pm

      Yeah really goes to show that you just have to figure out what works for you! If one thing doesn’t work try something else until you find something that does. There is no single way to do things. Whatever way works is the way to do it!

      Thanks Matt!

  5. Steven
    February 8, 2013 at 10:48 am

    It makes sense, but it’s sometimes hard to get started when you’re used to eating not healthy.

    • February 8, 2013 at 2:27 pm

      You definitely have that right, absolutely it’s difficult. That’s why it’s important to learn about your habits and that’s really where how badly you want it comes into play. The more you really truly want it, the easier it will be to make sacrifices. Of course there is also learning what to eat and everything else. It’s a real process, but if it’s something important to you, it will be well worth it. It is difficult at first, but the more you get into it the easier it becomes and eventually it often becomes something people love! The feeling you get when you start seeing real changes is pretty addictive, and it hey nothing beats making yourself proud!

  6. February 8, 2013 at 9:38 am

    My Favorite Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt…”You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.” Skill and Finesse are nothing compared to Courage-facing your fears helps you grow. Even our failures may turn out to be important learning experiences that lead directly to and are necessary for an upcoming success! Like your article…Stay Motivated, Relax and Do Your Best!

    • February 8, 2013 at 2:20 pm

      You bet! I’d argue we learn more from our failures than we do from our success.

  7. February 8, 2013 at 8:28 am

    It really is about one choicefollowed by another and another, matched with determination and persistance that brings successs! Excellent article Colin…much like I just declare and get it done!

    • February 8, 2013 at 2:16 pm

      Thanks Carl! Whatever works right!? 🙂

  8. February 8, 2013 at 7:59 am

    Great article again Colin! I tend to be like you in that I will make a decision then tell people in my world about it… and for exactly the same reason – I hate admitting defeat! It really is all about choice… and on that note, I think you’ll see that you and are bizarrely in sync, once again!

    • February 8, 2013 at 2:15 pm

      Thanks Stacia! Can’t wait to see what you have to say! 🙂

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