Interested in a good discussion on improving your “willpower“
to get more enjoyment out of what we do and to do more personally
meaningful things? A KQED podcast of Forum on “the Science
of Willpower” was clearly enlightening. It included three authors
that have been highlighted in this blog: Roy Baumeister, Charles
Duhigg and Kelly McGonigal. The notes alone in the web page
offer value. If you want to catch the flow of the discussion on
what willpower is, how you can strengthen your willpower,
understand the role of habits and connect to the notion of personal
self-control. listen to the podcast, as well.
I liked more than a dozen parts of the discussion. Let me highlight
four for you.
1. K. McGonigal talked about willpower being an instinct
comprising three elements– “willpower“, what you want to do
daily, “won’t-power,” not doing the things you wish to avoid and, most
importantly, “want-power,” your personal vision that drives your
purpose. The latter form the rewards that will drive your behaviors.
2. A part of will power is “self-control” which interestingly is
a habit of doing things that propel us to our goals. It is a limited
mental resource that can be depleted from overuse, can be restored
by meditation, involvement in a like-minded community, and
influenced by mentors.
3. Goals are a meta-concept of a pattern of thinking that can be
reached by establishing “keystone” habits. C. Duhigg cited the
work of Wendy Wood who established 40-45% of what we do
is habits and if we prioritized and focused our cues and patterns
of behavior we would feel rewarded, especially if we were willing
to delay gratification.
4. Selective actions help us to have the will power to complete
complicated tasks. Challenges can be overcome by
breaking complexity down into manageable chunks,
bundling them with priorities, reward the accomplishment
of even small steps and “powering” through to even a
draft end point.