Will-power vs won't-power

The world around us presents us with plenty of potential interferences and distractions ready to take us away from what it is we want to achieve.

There is a well-known formula: performance = potential - interference.

Therefore, it is crucial to you and your journey to achieving your goals that you keep your interferences to a minimum.

Easier said than done, I hear you say! In a world, as mentioned, where we are surrounded by these interferences and distractions, it can become a real drain on our energy supplies, both physically and mentally.


'Just have stronger will-power and you'll be fine'... well, that would be great, but will-power isn't an infinite resource of fuel. If you place stress upon a muscle, such as putting your bicep under tension by lifting weights, it will break down, repair and grow stronger.

Will-power isn't a muscle. You can't just continue to use it and expect it to get stronger. It lives in a part of your brain called the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex uses plenty of energy; it is used to make decisions, moderating your social behaviour, personality expression, and planning cognitive behaviour. All of these use up plenty of energy, putting the prefrontal cortex under some tiresome work.

You then add will-power on top of these, and you can start to understand why problems can occur when you rely on your will-power. How often do you get back from work, or a training session, or any other activity which requires lots of thinking or decision making, and just want to relax?

When you relax, how often do you relax with a glass of wine or some food, which you wouldn't touch if you had a little more will-power?

You are not special. Well, you aren't on your own. Everyone suffers from this problem. There is no need to beat yourself up. What separates people from those who achieve and manage their distractions, compared to those who give in to temptation, is that they have coping strategies in place.

Won't power

I am sure you would have all heard of will-power, but how many of you have heard of won't-power?

Take a plate of biscuits for example. Will-power is 'I will only have one biscuit and not eat the others'. That can take up a lot of energy and plenty of will-power. Are you able to resist the temptation; that immediate gratification? Our brain's main source of fuel is glucose - your brain would love those biscuits.

Or, you have won't-power - 'I won't have those biscuits in the house in the first place'. So, when you get home, there is no need to use up any energy trying to resist that sugary goodness. You just get on with it. This plan of action is what served me so well when I was at my leanest. Having no temptation meant I had nothing to take me away from my goal.

There are plenty of examples above which can cause distractions. I am like anyone else; whilst I work on mindset and mindfulness, I am human and easily distracted.

My phone is my biggest distraction. Having information or communication at the end of my fingertips can be a problem. Opening Facebook, closing Facebook, and re-opening Facebook to read the same content I have just consumed. Or, repeating the same with SkySports.

These are just some of the many distractions and habits with my phone or computer. I start working and pow - my brain wants a break, finds a distraction which requires less thinking and effort, and I am away from what I was doing and down a different path.

Of course, this isn't always the case, but if I stay on track it uses up plenty of energy and the quality of my work may drop off.

I have recently come across a saviour. An app called Freedom. It blocks all apps and listed websites on all my devices during scheduled times that I configure. The temptation is removed, and my will-power is not required. Instead, I use won't power. I won't be able to use those apps, so I don't try!

What next? Consider the following:

  • What could you do to remove your temptations?
  • What are you currently looking to achieve?
  • What are the potential obstacles, that you'll need to overcome?
  • How can you ensure those obstacles aren't becoming a distraction?

Life Coach Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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