Why Willpower and Motivation Aren’t Enough

• Oct 19 2014

Think about the last time you failed when trying to form a new habit. Did you blame failure on willpower? Do you think you need more willpower to be successful?

If so, you’ve got it partly wrong.

Yes, willpower is important. Clearly we need willpower to follow the courses of action we set for ourselves. Yet, willpower alone is not sufficient to get us to form those habits. According to psychologist Roy Baumeister, willpower is like a muscle and it can be depleted from doing tasks that require the control of impulses.

This is why habits can’t be formed from brute force alone. You’ll fail if your method relies solely on your willpower. You’re human, and sooner or later, you’ll have a day where you’re feeling tired and lacking in energy.

The same goes for motivation — it also is important, but definitely not enough on it’s own.

You need to have a reason for your habit change, but more importantly, you need to keep that reason in mind. Not just the cue, and reward, but the big-picture goal that you can receive from having changed your habit. However, motivation will not get you out of bed at 5 in the morning so that you can meditate, neither will willpower. What will help you is a mindset and systems. You need to have developed a proper framework to deal with these situations.

You’re a creature of habit. Embrace your inner animal and automate your life.

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Habits, Technology & Behavioral Change