Willpower ain’t that great.
There’s plenty of research showing that willpower isn’t something to rely on when you’re trying to meet your goals. Most people who seem to have iron willpower have actually just set up their lives in ways that don’t force them to rely on it.
Here are three ways to align your behavior with your values without relying on willpower.
Shape your environment
App designers know that we’ll tap on a red icon.
Grocery store owners know that products at eye level outsell products on lower shelves.
Disney knows that trash cans placed every 30 feet ensure park patrons will throw their trash away instead of dropping it on the ground.
When possible, sculpt your environment to reinforce desirable behavior. By laying out your workout clothes the night before and keeping junk food out of the house in the first place, you’re putting Future You in a position to succeed.
If you visit any gym at the same time each day, you’ll see most of the same people day after day. These folks have discovered that building habits makes difficult tasks much easier.
It’s hard to work out when you “try to fit it in when you can." But when you work out every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 11:30, and here it is 11:25 on Wednesday, it’s surprisingly easy to grab your sneakers and go.
New habits take time to build, but they pay you back in spades.
Get it covered
Jim Rohn used to talk about this idea in his seminars: if you’ve tried repeatedly to get some area of your life under control and have come up short every time, consider paying a professional.
A personal trainer is not cheap. Neither is a dietician or a subscription to Blue Apron. But what’s your health worth? As anyone who’s faced a major illness will tell you, it’s priceless. When your health leaves you, all the money in the world won’t make you happy.
We can’t do everything ourselves. If you’re neglecting an important area of your life, do whatever is necessary to get it covered.
Willpower’s an important tool, but it’s like adrenaline: it’s not to be relied on regularly. Consider these three approaches instead.