I came across the UK Guardian’s review of Willpower: Rediscovering Our Greatest Strength, by Roy F Baumeister and John Tierney, and thought to myself;
Oh dear, here we go again. A new book just in time for those readers now wavering on New Year’s resolutions but a month old.
Having read only the review, but not the book, what I have to say here concerns the building of (good) habits.
In my life, I am sure that willpower had something to do with ingraining habitual behavior but I doubt it was the primary motivator.
Exercising The Willpower Muscle
That’s because the willpower muscle often wilts without a regular dose of mental willagra (my new drug of choice!).
Fortunately, this is easy to administer; just set a goal that’s achieved almost imperceptibly.
For example, say you want to be able to do 50 push ups daily but can only manage 30 without collapsing in a crumpled heap.
What you do is start with 25 (say) in the morning, followed by another 25 at night.
There you go.
You’re doing 50 per day, just not all at once.
Do that for one week, taking a day off to recover. (That would be Friday for me. When I was an active athlete we had Friday’s off and it really did add meaning to the TGIF moniker.)
Week two would add just one rep to the morning set and reduce one rep from the evening set. That’s 26 before breakfast and 24 before sleep.
Week two would see a 27 / 23 split between morning and evening.
In just 23 weeks you’ll reach 50 in the morning and be rewarded with none at night!
And what’s next? Well, how about aiming for 60 by starting with a 30/30 split?
100 Push Ups a Day
Some months ago I started with a 50/50 split and a goal of 100 push ups.
I’m now at the 63/37 mark and pleased to say that this activity is gradually becoming habitual.
So much so, that I find it odd when I don’t do the exercise because of illness, late night socializing etc.
Willpower’s taking a back seat on this goal.