Someone asked me the other day where the journey towards the ‘millionaire mindset’ begins. You’re going to be shocked with what my response was.
You wont hear this in the standard self-help section. It rarely ever gets spoken about and not the first thing that comes to mind.
What is it?
Will power is a finite resource. Use it up sticking to a diet, and you might have none left to keep your financial journey on track. Here’s some tips, strategies and ideas on how to manage this most precious resource.
Straight up, as much we might like to pretend otherwise, and as much as blog writers (like me) are full of wonderful tips for “thinking yourself rich”, I think the reality is that are actually very few millionaires are “self-made” in the truest sense of the word.
I think there are qualities that successful people share, but most of these people received these qualities as a gift of fate.
I remember the story of a CEO who, as a small child was taken into the country and left by the side of the road. “See you at home,” his mother said as she drove off.
Through that experience, he developed resilience and self-reliance (as well as abandonment issues and a fear of intimacy).
We are not blank slates. We all have different strengths. Some have courage. Some have intelligence. Some have creativity. Some, like myself, have nothing but their dashing good looks to get by in the world.
And so in that sense, everyone’s journey will be different. And the things you need to focus on will be unique to you. I’m full of good ideas, just ask me, but you still need to reflect on your own journey, and decide for yourself where your journey begins.
That said, I think there is one virtue that plays a catalytic role in success. A virtue that activates other virtues, and in whose absence all other virtues are rendered useless.
And that’s will power.
Will power is the engine of success. Courage helps us make bold life-changing decisions, but without will power we can’t follow those decisions up. Intelligence might lay out a wonderful road map for us, but without will power we won’t last the distance.
So my advice to anyone looking to better themselves and their life is take a look under the hood – how’s your will power?
Now traditionally, we’ve thought about will-power as just something you’re born with – like height or eye colour.
But the truth of it is we’re much better off thinking about will power like a muscle.
In that sense, it is something we can develop. By practising will, we can strengthen our will power muscle.
So now you might be thinking, ‘Ok Jon, what’s a will power exercise. Give me a will-power squat.”
And that’s what more and more people are talking about. But I reckon the truth of it is that most people over-use their will power muscles, and are actually suffering will-power fatigue.
Will power is a limited resource. It can run out.
In one psychology experiment, people watched a nature documentary while being seated next to or across the room from a bowl of chocolates. Later, they were given impossible puzzles to solve. Those who were sitting next to the chocolate gave up much sooner than those who weren’t.
It took effort to resist the chocolate temptation. It depleted their will-power reserves, and they threw the towel in much sooner as a result.
To me the take home message is we’ve got to be careful with how we manage our will-power resource. Because we live in a very tempting world.
Walk down the street and there’s chocolate and ice cream and all sorts of tasty things in every corner shop. There goes a bit of our will power.
In the café there are any number of attractive people who aren’t our partner. We don’t let our eyes stray, but there goes some more of our will power.
It’s Jan from accounts birthday morning tea and there’s enough cake for everyone to have seconds. No thanks, Jan, but there’s less will power in the tank again.
The horrors of the world are breaking your heart, but you resist the urge to break down in tears or kick a hole in the side of the bus-stop. Suddenly you’re running on empty.
This is the real drain I reckon. Keeping these crazy beings within the limits of the socially acceptable takes real effort. Modern life is weird and doesn’t come naturally to us. (I’m not alone here right?)
In another psych study, people who were asked to suppress their feelings while they watched an upsetting movie, while others were allowed to respond freely. Those who had to control their feelings gave up sooner on the tasks that followed. Controlling our emotions and our expressions uses up will power.
But we have to suppress and control our feelings all the time. It’s part of being a grown up.
But then we ratchet up the stimulus (endless news, facebook etc.) without allowing the emotional to respond.
The result? Depleted will power.
For the day to day stuff, I think rules can be effective. For example, if you say ‘I only eat sweets after dinner’, or ‘I only have biscuits with a cup of tea’, you can use the decision rule to resist temptation. You don’t have to dip into your will power.
And if you’re burning all your will power keeping your personality and emotions suppressed…? Maybe it’s time to say stuff it. I don’t care what other people think. I’m just going to do and say and feel what I want.
Live my life like a Frank Sinatra / Bon Jovi tribute band.
I know that’s easier said than done, but I think we could all just drop the masks a bit and let our selves live. The world would definitely be a more interesting place…
And we’d all be a lot happier…
And we’d then have a lot more will-power to blow on the things that really matter.
Too simple? Is will-power really a catalyst for success?
Any tips for managing our will power resource?
Any tips for dropping the dead-weight of other peoples’ demands and expectations?