It might seem like a completely duh! realization, but I was thinking about how often we know what we should be doing, but just can’t get ourselves to do it.
Whether in our creative businesses or everyday life, we aren’t always applying all the good knowledge we have at our disposal. We all know that we should exercise more and eat healthier for example. Why is it that we can all agree on things we should be doing, but can’t carry them out all the same?
We can all set intentions and goals, but we don’t always follow through. Those darn new years resolutions! I started to think about the lack of willpower and wondered if I was lacking that strength in my character. Was there something wrong with my pre-frontal cortex? I found myself wondering about the science of it all.
So I decided to read The Willpower Instinct (Amazon affiliate link) by Kelly McGonigal Ph.D. I’ve come across her articles before and wanted to learn more. I appreciate how she’s taken scientific studies and boiled them down to plain English, so that we can actually apply the learning to our lives. It turns out, we can strengthen our willpower by learning more and doing exercises to strengthen it, as with most things in life.
I’m going through the book by tackling a chapter a week, working through the exercises and challenges. It’s a bit like The Artist’s Way, discussing a topic/issue and providing exercises a chapter a week, simulating a workshop. Of course, the difference is that this willpower book is based on scientific studies in addition to real-life experiences and results of workshop participants. It also encourages the reader to make themselves a science experiment, so we can truly learn through our personal experiences and results.
In our creative businesses, we are often looking for help and motivation to take ourselves to the next level. I started to notice that the gurus and advisors out there, all offer pretty much the same advice. They might twist and turn the topic around, but it’s the same stuff in essence. I realize that different styles of teaching are necessary, because we all learn differently…
… but even before we get to the all the information, we need to get off our butts and take action. That’s really the most important thing and we all talk about it. Beating procrastination and motivating ourselves! There are a lot of tips and tricks out there, but I still didn’t feel like anything went to the core of the issue. Sure, there are many reasons – going down to the level of our inner most fears. But I really wanted to understand the why from a scientific perspective.
Of course, I probably sound like the very thing I’m talking about. Duh, we all know that we have to get our butt into gear. We all know that, but struggle with it and realize it’s a challenge… so how do we get out of that funk? I beat myself down all the time, for not having patience, willpower, the gumption… I dunno what’s wrong. As if I’m missing something and maybe I’m not meant to do these things that I want to do.
From just the introduction and first chapter of the book, I’m learning that it’s a natural human thing to succumb to our temptations. It’s not a judgement on our character. We might have known a bit about that, but it’s even better to hear the science behind it. It lifted a weight off my shoulders, to know that I’m not doomed! How silly, huh? I think when it comes to our personality or character habits… it seems like something we are stuck with, that we can never change who we are. But it’s just not the case. We think of these intangible aspects as separate from getting in physically in shape, for example… but we can change and train our brains. It’s certainly not easy! No pain, no gain!
This week, I’m trying to identify what blocks me from doing what I need to do. Awareness is the first step to change… you have to know where you are standing at this moment, in order to head in the right direction!