When I was in high school, my freshman English teacher often wore a button depicting William Shakespeare that boldly stated, “Will Power.”
I was always amused at the pun for undoubtedly, William Shakespeare was a force to be reckoned with in the world of English literature but I also knew that my teacher wore the button as a plea to us students to work hard at our assignments.
Lately I’ve been thinking about will, not the man but the action.
What exactly is will?
We use the root word, “will,” in so many phrases and applications:
- Sheer force of will
- Being willful
- Having willingness
- Will power
According to dictionary.com, “will” has many definitions.
It is used to imply the future, “I will go to the store.” It is also defined as: to wish, desire or like as in “go where you will.”
The definition, however, that I’m most intrigued by is this notion:
- The faculty of conscious and especially of deliberate action; the power of control the mind has over its own actions: the freedom of the will.
- The power of choosing one's own actions: to have a strong or a weak will.
- The act or process of using or asserting one's choice; volition: My hands are obedient to my will.
This leads me to wonder, how do you get will and what is it made of?
Will is a muscle that we need to nurture and develop. Here are four ways to become more aware of your own will and how to make it strong and well defined.
A direct correlation with will is the belief that what you think or do matters.
Self-confidence is primarily developed from two areas in life. The first is by experiencing love. If you feel loved and accepted, you naturally see yourself as whole and healthy and exude confidence about life.
The other way to build self-confidence is through success.
Think about a young child learning to ride a bicycle. As he gets the hang of holding the handlebars, balancing and pedaling, his confidence soars. Once he has mastered bike riding, he may then be more willing to try other similar sports like skateboarding or rollerblading.
What have you experienced success in that has propelled you into greater endeavors?
When you feel confident, it’s easy to try new things and exert your will.
Will power is easily associated with desire. Think about it like this – desire is the fuel that propels will.
Because, let’s face it, if you want something, it’s much easier to put in the effort and the work.
People talk a lot about will power when it comes to losing weight. If you’re desire to be healthy is strong and you have good motivation (desire) it’s easier to delay gratification, to listen to your body, to get up and go for a run and to make healthy choices.
But you have to really want it.
Desire and will show up in many forms.
I know a young woman who loves to swim and has swum competitively for years. She annually attends state meets, and often wins her events.
She is dedicated to her sport and to pushing herself to be the best that she can be.
How is she able to do this? Because she has desire – she wants it. She has the will to succeed.
Will and ability go hand in hand.
Often, when I look to undergo a project, the first thing I have to ask myself is am I willing? Then I ask, do I have the desire to undertake this task? The third question is, do I believe I have the skills to succeed?
If the answer is no, don’t be deterred because we often need to learn new skills or get help when striving to succeed.
If that’s the case, are you willing to ask for help and get the support you need to take on this task?
I believe we can do anything that we set our minds to – if we want it badly enough. Everything can be figured out.
I learned this lesson when I began a school over a decade ago. I knew exactly what curriculum to use, the school’s philosophy and even the structure but had never run a business before. So I had to learn bookkeeping, budgeting, marketing, managing, and on and on.
Now I learn this daily in running an online company. There is so much happening in the tech world and of course, I need help! I have the will to succeed and the willingness to ask for help if I don’t know something.
It’s easy to think about will power as being directly connected to perseverance, that dogged trait of not giving up. Of getting up even when you don’t want to, of showing up even when you’re afraid.
How do we foster perseverance?
Like with everything, practice.
In some ways, procrastination is the opposite of perseverance and when I find myself wanting to avoid, I remember Robert Holden’s words on my Success Now calendar: “Procrastinate tomorrow.”
Will power is doing it anyway - even when you want to give up, even when it gets hard, or uncomfortable or scary.
It’s about following through until the task/job/meet is completed. It’s about staying focused, keeping your eyes on the prize and moving toward the goal line.
Will is a powerful key to living a successful life. It can propel you into new endeavors and help you stretch yourself with people, places and projects.
Becoming more aware of how will works in your life and strengthening that muscle can yield you amazing results!