Willpower and self-control
Willpower is a paramount quality to have at any point throughout life. More specifically, the older you get, the higher your level of it should become.
With age comes wisdom, right? Said many people who have no idea about maturity and wisdom. The two don’t go hand in hand. I’m sure, just like myself, you’ve probably met people in their 30’s who act like children while having also met teenagers who carry themselves like bonafide adults. Maturity level and age aren’t mutually exclusive. They don’t have to happen simultaneously, and often, many individuals take different courses to reach maturity in life. Some people are forced to mature at a young age and have to grow up before they ever should due to a lack of home stability. Others have it easy and have been so sheltered throughout life; they know nothing about the real world.
With wisdom comes many great qualities such as the ability to break down and find the root of a problem. Another example, and perhaps the most tangible, is willpower. As defined, willpower is “control exerted to do something or restrain impulses.” Typically, it means your ability to control whether or not you do something. Yet, the most significant part of the definition lies in the last two words, “restrain impulses.”
We all have impulses, it’s part of what makes us human. Every one of us is imperfect, and we have glaring weaknesses. However, coming to know our weaknesses, and doing everything we can to change them, is also what makes us human. Humans have an innate desire to explore and “fix” things. It’s how we got to the moon, and why we always attempt to reinvent the wheel. Because nothing ever seems reasonable enough. This mindset often stems from within, with us believing we aren’t good enough. We are, we have, and we always will be enough to change our mindset and achieve willpower.
Recently, my girlfriend and I started training at the gym. We’ve been running quite a bit, working on hand-eye coordination, and shooting while playing basketball. But the truth is, during most of this quarantine, we sat on our butts. When we weren’t working, we laid around, watched television, and were all around pretty lazy. Before the virus spread, we were hitting the gym a few times a week, and even then, we wanted to do more. But between us both working, being in college, maintaining our relationship, and the ones with our parents and friends, there seemed little to no time for anything else. We’d always tell ourselves, “if we just had more time.” Ironically, after we were all forced to quarantine, we found ourselves with more time than usual. No work commute, no going to and from the gym, no eating out, no nothing.
During the first few weeks of quarantine, we were doing very well fitness-wise. My girlfriend was doing some online H.I.T. classes in our living room, and I was completing some yoga sessions consistently. That is, until our workouts slowly decreased, and eventually, we just stopped altogether. It wasn’t that we didn’t want to work out. But when lying around all day and watching movies is the alternative, we typically chose the latter. Because as much as we love working out, we got in the repetitive cycle of saying, “we’ll just do it tomorrow.” That saying has stopped many people from completing their fitness goals. The point here is that you have to have the willpower to do so. How do you do that?
You have the power
It starts by recognizing you have the power to, and nobody else can do it for you. Sure, having a friend or significant other push you can help tremendously, but the ability to start, continue through adversity, and ultimately complete anything lies within you. Another example of willpower and self-control would be the other night. Since we committed to training again, my girlfriend and I have been doing well, eating better, and overall, working out harder. But the other night, we were tempted to eat some chocolate chip cookies we’d bought before we got serious about training again. What did we do? We caved. It’s not to say you can’t indulge in some sweets from time to time. But we knew our goals, questioned if we should eat the cookies before we did, and chose to anyway.
It wasn’t the end of the world. It didn’t mean all of our hard work the past few weeks went out the window. But it did bring light to the notion that just because it was there, didn’t mean we needed to eat it. More importantly, it made us think about how we had the willpower to do so. We know we could have stopped ourselves. Any diet starts and ends with willpower. Your ability to control what you put into your body is willpower, your ability to control whether or not you work out, is willpower. You essentially doing anything, is willpower. You always have it, and no one can take it from you.
You don’t have to give in. You don’t have to stop. You don’t have to eat something someone else has. You don’t have to work out because someone else does. You don’t have to quit because you gave in once. It’s about you and your desires. What do you want? Do you want to lose weight? Run more. Do you want to stretch and be more flexible? Do yoga. Do you want to have balance and be more athletic? Try agility training. Do you want to get better at a sport? Practice it religiously. But all of it starts with your will to power through each obstacle you deal with along your journey.
Sometimes you won’t want to get up early, eat healthily, make the trip to the gym, or be self-disciplined, and that’s okay because you’re human. You will make mistakes. Be kind to yourself but recognize that willpower is about much more than not giving in; it’s about the ability to keep going despite the hurdles you face. If you want results, you have to put in the time, energy, and effort necessary. Above all else, remember the will to get things done, and the power to do so lies within you.