Habits Not Willpower

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit”
-Aristotle.

 That boy knew his stuff, Nick will be proud of me.

On the other hand it would seem that willpower is a rather limited resource.

In 1998 Psychologist Roy Baumeister conducted what I would consider his borderline torture experiment on willpower involving cookies and radishes. In this study, problem solvers were split into 2 groups, one group waited before the test and were allowed to eat cookies, the other group were given radishes, and in a move showing who the evil scientist really was, Baumeister had cookies placed in front of those who were not meant to eat them, some of these poor souls even broke pieces off to have a sniff!

After this torture the 2 groups of problem solvers were given their unsolvable problem and those who had been allowed cookies made more than twice as many attempts to solve the puzzle as their tormented peers.

 

Cookie Monster is an animal in the gym

 

So it would seem that willpower is finite.

Are you the girl who refuses to go to that nice little Italian restaurant for lunch with your work colleagues and munches on a tasteless salad at your desk? And then half an hour before you’re due to go home some scumbag brings out a birthday cake for the lady you never speak to in sales, and she asks if you’d like a slice! You politely decline but you notice that on the drive home as you get to the turning to go to the gym you take the other road and go straight home, and once there you pour yourself a large glass of vino! Does that sound familiar? Maybe substitute one or two of the temptations but I’m sure we’ve all been there. You get to the end of the day and there’s just nothing left. Maybe you should have gone to the Italian restaurant after all.

Habit, on the other hand is easy – once it has been formed. You need to respect the formation process, usually 63 days or so, some say 21 but lets play it safe. Concentrate on forming the habit which will have the biggest impact on you meeting your goal. For many that would be developing the habit of training (not merely exercising) 3-4 times a week, every week, following a programme from Becoming Mighty. When this habit has been engrained and is part of your life, only then move on to developing another habit.

Just remember that the habit needs to have become habitual, if not then you’ll be relying on willpower and then it could start raining cookies.

Be Mighty,
Chris