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How to find the willpower to achieve your goals. Photo: Mark Alexander @lostpeony

Do you blame your willpower for the lack of results and general progress with things in your life? It turns out that you are in control of it and I am going to show you how to find the willpower to achieve your goals.

The suggestions in this article are based on the notion that willpower thrives on motivation. Your motivation is greater when you keep your focus on the task in hand by eliminating distractions. In other words, you can achieve your long-term goals by resisting short-term temptations.

Here’s how to find the willpower to achieve your goals:

Make a plan of action and reaction

There are many reasons why having a plan of action is always a good idea. It gives you clear directions and guidance to achieving your goal; it saves you time experimenting and it prepares you for possible turns and twists along the way.

Take your plan of action to the next level and plan for possible temptations. That will help you preserve your willpower by not having to test it on the spot.

Let’s take my love for fitness as an example. I have a workout plan which I follow for four weeks at a time. It’s broken down into days, muscle groups, exercises, sets and repetitions I need to do.

Today is Monday which means shoulders and arms day at the gym. I have to complete 12 exercises and for each one of them I do 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions. My main temptation is to skip an exercise. Not just today but every day at the gym. I avoid that temptation by having an alternative for each of the exercises on my list.

Work on one goal at the time

As you can see from my gym workout plan, I concentrate on one muscle group per day. It’s much better to do that than try and exercise all muscle groups at once. If I was to do the latter, I risk an injury and severe exhaustion for the rest of the week. My muscles are likely to ache for days too.

The combination of an injury, exhaustion and muscle aches is very likely to lead me to missing my next workout session. Doing 4 different workouts per week breaks my final goal into bite size chunks that are easier to complete and require a minimum amount of willpower.

Monitor your behaviour

It’s important to keep a track of your progress. It keeps you motivated by recording your results and achievements. It also identifies problematic areas that need improving. That makes it easier to adjust your plan of action to meet the demands of the extra steps you need to take in order to stay on target and achieve your goals.

I have a log sheet for my workouts and I update it once a week to make sure I go in the direction I set out.

Create a support network

I knew that I wouldn’t enjoy going to the gym and exercising on my own. It made sense to hire a personal trainer to show me what to do and to help me build my confidence in the gym. I wouldn’t be in the shape that I am now if it wasn’t for my personal trainer.

Don’t be afraid of going to the gym. You are not alone as people join every day and, like you, can be bewildered by the equipment. Use of a personal trainer will help you to cope with the equipment and give you the confidence to do your own routine. But be aware that personal trainers will want to keep you on their books as it is their job and source of income.

Once you have the confidence to carry on on your own, say so and thank them and do your own thing. They will always be around if you need a tip or some help on what to do. You may also feel that people are watching you – they are NOT as they are too busy doing THEIR routine.

Surround yourself with people who inspire you and who can help you achieve your goals. Be it by motivating you, showing you how to do certain things and overcome certain obstacles or by doing anything else you need them to do in order to help you achieve your goals.

Celebrate your achievements

It’s important to celebrate your achievements, no matter how small they may seem at the time. That rewards you for your hard work and motivates you to keep going.

At the end of each week, I celebrate my gym workouts with a “cheat meal”. I look forward to it and knowing that I have that at the end of the week, keeps me going.

You can read this article about the secrets of self-control on the Huffington Post – www.huffingtonpost.com

Regular exercise increases your muscle strength giving you the stamina to keep going for longer before you fatigue. In a similar way, your willpower increases as you build up your resistance to temptation. You can’t eliminate temptation but you can predict it and you can take precautionary steps to make sure you avoid it or manage it, rather than let temptation test your willpower.

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