Who would you blame for a project failing to be completed on time? Your team? Yourself? Or your willpower – lack of motivation and self-control?
Many individuals believe that having great willpower can improve their lives. With more self-control, we can finish more tasks, save for retirement, commit on investment, stop procrastinating, and achieve all sorts of noble goals. APA’s Annual Stress survey revealed that among 566 survey respondents across the US, one in four believed that lack of willpower or time prevented them from making the change they were trying to achieve. Survey participants regularly cite willpower as the number one reason for someone to follow through and achieve their goals, either personally or professionally.
As willpower is cited to be a reason to achieve more and complete tasks while lacking it could result in adverse effects, you should know why sometimes self-control plummets or weakens. By understanding the reasons for willpower weakeners, you will be able to identify a better strategy to boost self-control to your advantage.
According to another APA survey, 75 percent of people in the US reported having high levels of stress and increasingly sleep-deprived, causing an epidemic of poor self-control and focus. Lack of sleep creates impulse control and attention problems similar to attention deficit (ADHD) and hyperactivity disorder. Stress will also shift the brain to a reward-seeking state. Thus, whatever will make you happy at the moment will become a fixation, as you find yourself craving whatever your brain believes will make you feel better. Self-criticism and temptation are two other hindrances for making willpower weaker.
Psychologist Roy Baumeister told APA that there are three necessary components for achieving objectives. First, you need to establish the motivation for change and set a clear goal. Second, you need to monitor your behaviour toward the goals. And the last is willpower.
Without motivation, clear goals, and behaviour, you lack focus and direction. Goal setting not only allows you to take control of your life’s direction but also provides a benchmark for determining whether you are actually succeeding. Motivation allows management to meet your goals. Without it, you could be placed in a very risky position where you will end up slacking in achieving your objectives.
Likewise, monitoring your behaviour can also help you reach your goals. According to a study by Benjamin Harkin, monitoring goal progress is a crucial process that comes into play between setting and attaining a goal, ensuring that the goals are translated into action. Harkin’s findings revealed that prompting yourself, your trainees, or employees to monitor their progress can help them achieve their goals.
Monitoring behaviours should be implemented differently for each individual, thus leaders must be aware that while some methods of monitoring are suited for employee A, they might not be effective for employee B. Moreover, encouraging people to record, report, or make public each objective will help achieve the goals quicker. For example, if you have a goal of finishing a project before New Year, then you might want to create a journal about the project and write down the progress each day. If you want to get a promotion, then write down the things that you need to get that promotion and monitor those points regularly.
Improving the will to finish a project or objective is not easy. But if you already have control and can regularly monitor your behaviour, that could be a silver lining.
Another tip you can implement is to not over-burden yourself with too many choices on a daily basis, like where to eat and what to wear. And if you are a manager or leader, you should do the same to your employees. Overburdening your employees will not only weaken their will power but also disengage them from daily basis. Giving them too many choices or tasks, all at once without letting them know the importance of each task, could only negatively affect an employee’s psychology.
Management should minimise non-value-added decisions for employees. Take a walk around the workplace and look at what decisions an employee is pushed to make on a daily basis that might chip away at self-control and willpower. As a manager, you should find ways to train team members to increase their engagement, high performance, and good decisions throughout the day. Help workers by scheduling difficult decisions that they need early in the day. You can implement this method as you help your employees go through the journey of improving their willpower.
There is a reason why successful leaders like Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, or Bill Gates wear the same outfit on an everyday basis. So, look around and understand how you can beat the over-choices in your daily life.