What Is Your Willpower Challenge?
In her new book The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do To Get More of It Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D., suggests the best way to learn about the self-control methods she discusses is to take a willpower challenge. I hesitated. I am not big on resolutions, perhaps because I never stick with them. I was also intrigued because her book offered me some new perspective on willpower and self-control.
"Your willpower challenge could be something you've been avoiding (what we'll call an "I will" power challenge) or a habit you want to break (an "I won't" power challenge). You could also choose an important goal in your life that you'd like to give more energy and focus to (an "I want" power challenge") -- whether it's improving your health, managing stress, honing your parenting skill, or furthering your career. Because distraction, temptation, impulse control, and procrastination are such universal human challenges, the strategies in this book will be helpful for any goal you choose."
I thought a lot about what I wanted my willpower challenge to be and what I didn't want it to be. I considering making it an "I will eat breakfast everyday" challenge, but I didn't particularly want it to be food-based. I also considered setting the challenge of stretching every day since sitting so much makes my back unhappy, but that didn't feel right, either. I considered making a daily walk my challenge, but it's winter. We're only beginning to see the truly cold part of winter, and when the windchill hits truly cold temperatures I know there is no way I'm getting my butt out of my warm house. The more I thought about it, the more I decided that I wanted to try out these theories with an "I won't" challenge. My brain seemed to respond best to her examples for how to deal with "I won't" triggers, so it felt right to go this route.
The problem was narrowing it down. I was really tempted to choose "I won't snooze the alarm clock," but well, trying to test and think through my triggers while still mostly asleep seemed doomed for failure. I kept coming back to one challenge and dismissing it because it was scary. I have a horrible procrastination habit. I've always had it. Addressing it would be big, and big changes are scary. Could I do it? What if I failed? My self-doubt is probably a very good reason to attempt it.
So, as frightening as it is, over the next month I'm going to try to kick my procrastination habit using the strategies, tips and knowledge in McGonigal's book. No more flipping to Twitter or Facebook while writing a post (which I've only done twice while writing this -- a vast improvement). No more thinking "I'll do that after lunch." No more ignoring the clean laundry on top of my dresser waiting to be put away. Wish me luck. I'll need it.
What willpower challenge will you be tackling this month?