When I need to change something, I don’t go looking for some (as yet undiscovered) storehouse of will power. That’s just wheel-spinning, time-wasting. Most days I can’t even spell will power. Instead, I ask myself, how badly do you want this? I have to want to want to before I begin.
After years of trying to harness will power, I find I don’t stick to positive change just because I should. Pitiful – considering there’s so much room here for improvement.
I think about change and think about it, talk about it and talk about it, and still I know that until there is desire, no amount of will power will help. I only accomplish change when the deep-down want creeps in and sticks around for a while.
I once quit smoking for a boyfriend. That didn’t last. Went to the gym to impress someone there with my firm body. Hah. My toned muscles lasted about a minute after he left the class. (Obviously this behavior was when I was very young and impressionable.)
Then one day, years later, I really wanted to be a non-smoker, so I stopped. It was harder without a cheering section, but I wanted to be a person who didn’t buy cigarettes, didn’t carry them around, didn’t bum them from other people. And that worked. I’m nicotine-free about twenty years and counting.
Now to the body image thing. I am looking in the mirror and seeing a whole bunch of stuff that needs changing. I’ve made changes before, but when the urge left, so did the positive results. This time I want change to last. So I ask myself, are you really ready? Do you really want to? Some days, I don’t even want to want to. But I can feel it in the air – that day is getting closer – the day when I will do it.
With a history of both extremely NON-successful habit changes and a few major successful changes (quitting smoking) I know I won’t even try until there is a stirring of desire. It’s desire and not will power that precedes action in my case.
So here are my three steps. Boy how I wish I could claim something more logical, more mature, more focused. Nope. That would be the definition of will power. Instead, here’s what works for me.
Step One: I have to want to want to.
Step Two: Then I move to actually wanting to.
Step Three: Begin!
Or not. The or not factor is always the variable.
Ó Anita Garner 2009