Is it possible to exercise the habit of pushing through problems? And if so, how?
As I laid flat-backed on the weight room floor, I thought that thought. You know, that thought. The one that takes you from a flame of energy to a pile of ash.
The thought that takes you from wanting to climb mountains to wanting just to crawl into bed and watch television until you fall asleep.
Some days, the thought comes and the thought goes, without too much effect on the rest of my workout.
But I know when its going to happen.
That exact moment where I load on the weight for my last set and all of the others have left. No one around to say “Man that looks heavy.” No one around to say “You can do it.” No one around to fuel my ego, to make me want to lift more.
The only thing around is my body questioning me for putting it through the torture.
Some days, it comes and goes, but today, I let it get to me. I pack my things and go home, wondering about willpower in general.
Does It Ever Get Easier?
When I was younger, I use to watch the monsters in the gym and on television and think, I bet the lighter weights feel like nothing to them.
When I got older and stronger, I realized that to a certain extent this is true. I was able to get from 400 pounds in the squat to 500 pounds. I was surprised later though to find out that 400 pounds still feels like 400 pounds. In fact, everything above 315 was still heavy as hell.
I realized that getting stronger was not just about muscles. It was about about not being afraid of what was on the bar. That mindset was trained along with the muscles, and just as muscles can feel sore and weak, that mindset can also lose its driving force.
Easy By Comparison
While the first several years of your life are integral in the formation of willpower, “The good news, says Dr. Wang, is that ‘brains do well what they do often.’ And practicing self-control can increase overall willpower throughout adulthood.”
While this is good news, it doesn’t make sense that in order to build willpower, you have practice having willpower, which takes willpower.
Nevertheless, it shows that there is hope.
How can we build something like willpower then? What sort of activities should we seek out?
According to Gots’ article, something even as simple as focusing on brushing your teeth with the opposite hand had an effect on self-control.
But to really get that willpower akin to epic heroes, I firmly believe you gotta do something impossible.
At least that is how it has to feel in your mind.
Dedicate a month out of your life to achieving some thing. It must push you beyond all of your limits.
After that month, you will be carved out of wood. Your mind will be tough enough to withstand the common distractions.
I remember one summer when I was working two jobs, both of them labor intensive. The first shift lasted from 6 to 3 while the second lasted from 3 to 11. This lasted for a couple weeks, when the second job was finished.
I remember returning to school in the fall ready to take on anything. No job was beyond my mental capacity.
Everything, by comparison, just seemed easy.
- Work your mental capacity for self-control just like you would your muscles. Training your muscles to get stronger involves putting more weight on the bar. Add more load to your willpower to train it.
- Missing weights does no good for your progress. Likewise, failing an extraordinary goal because of willpower does not help strengthen your willpower. You just took on something that was too much for you to handle.
- You have to focus on something and strive to get it at all costs. The best of the best train smart and train correctly. But they are also obsessed with getting what they want.
- You have to do something hard. You will never have a strong willpower unless you use it to take on challenging tasks.
It is possible to train your willpower to better handle your own actions throughout the day. You just have to be aware of how to train it and what it takes to really move to the next level.