How to Develop Discipline: Building the Muscle that is Will Power

They say that will power depletes throughout the day. There has been studies, and it has been scientifically proven. Will power is seemingly finite, and if you make too many decisions at the beginning of the day, that donut at the end of your day will become more and more attractive.

I don’t know if I completely agree with that. I struggle because of a simple thing called momentum.

Let’s say you woke up early one day, earlier than usual, and the first thing you did was get a hard workout. And after that hard workout you decide to make a vegetable shake, get some protein, and eat really healthy. And finally after eating your breakfast, you move on to your work. Whatever your job may be, you decide to go out and get after what you accomplished. Do you think that you would feel a lack of will power to get what you need to get done after doing all that? I don’t think so.

But let’s take it a step further. Let’s say you did get your work done. What about now? Do you think the will power is gone now? Waking up early already takes a lot of will power. And then after getting through that, to then decide to grind it out on some iron or on a treadmill, that must take a lot of will power too, right? And then to top it all off, to decide to eat a vegetable shake and a healthy protein meal, AND get your work done right afterwords, without any rest, how much will power must that consume?

If you think that would consume all your will power, or at least a big portion of it, then we differ in opinion.

I don’t know if will power is finite. But I do know that life tend to work in ripples. One small good deed will often lead to bigger ones, and visa versa, bad deeds lead to worse deeds. This is because like a snowball rolling down a white mountain, actions sway you into certain directions and give you momentum. And so, in my eyes, waking up early was the small push that the snow ball of discipline needed to go down the mountain.

And so, each step becomes easier and easier. Which would comply to the finite will power idea, because as your day progresses, you spend less and less will power to do better things for yourself.

The most will-power consuming step would be the first one. Now this is not some “wake-up” early blog post, although I do recommend it. Instead, what I am trying to relay is the fact that your actions do not stand alone. They ripple.

Just like how a single bite of a donut can lead to 3 entire donuts, your actions pivot you onto different paths. And so whenever you want to make a huge change in your life, focus on the small stuff. What are the small actions you can take that will have the strongest effects?

Will one push up lead to 10? Absolutely

How about deciding on going outside and running for just 10 seconds? I bet you will start running a lot longer than that. And maybe you will even walk for extra credit.

You see, one of the biggest mistakes people make when they try to change their life is that they try too much at once. Maybe they spend too much of their will power? (wink wink)

If you want to learn a language, start by learning a single word everyday. People think motivation will last forever. You’ll be lucky if it lasts longer than 3 days. Motivation is not forever. Discipline lasts forever. And whenever you want to develop a habit, you have to first start by planting a seed.

The big stuff comes from the small stuff. The small details are the large details. This is how life works. Life is a paradox. But by understanding that, life becomes much more simple.


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