Willpower, courage, confidence, focus, drive… There are many words I could use, but all pointing towards that “don’t take no for an answer” feeling.
It’s that fire of determination, the inner force that will carry you through to the end no matter what.
Maybe you feel it very strong already, or maybe you feel a lack of it.
If you often find yourself with half-completed projects, setting resolutions and then falling away from them soon after, or just feeling like a human doormat, it’s a sign you might need more of it.
The good news is, willpower is like a muscle. The more you practice it, the stronger it gets.
And the stronger it gets, the more confidence and focus you can bring to everything you do. You can push your limits instead of being walled in by them.
Here are some methods to build your inner strength and turn yourself into a force to be reckoned with.
Set a daily intention
Start the day off right by setting an intention.
This is a word or phrase that you will keep coming back to throughout the day, a goal that will inform all your actions.
It might be “courage,” “focus,” or “eyes on the goal.” Something that creates a sense of drive and purpose whenever you think about it.
Spend a few minutes contemplating your intention. If yours is courage, for example, evoke it and just observe how courage feels in your body, how your mind works when you’re in this state.
You can look forward to the events of the day and imagine how you will respond with courage. See yourself acting bravely in any situations that might arise.
Throughout the day, remind yourself about your intention to live with courage.
If it helps, you can write your word on a piece of paper and keep it in your wallet or on your keyboard, where you’ll see it often.
Make new habits, not excuses
Is there something you’ve wanted to do for ages but just can get yourself to stick with it?
Whether it’s eating healthier, getting more exercise, being more efficient at work or anything else, at the end of the day it’s your willpower that makes or breaks it.
It might seem like the whole world is against you, but you’ll find that if you really want to do it, you’ll make it happen one way or another.
There’s an easy way to prove this to yourself.
Pick a habit that you want to develop, and choose one action that will move you towards that.
Now make a promise to yourself that you will do this action every single day, no matter what. No exceptions, no compromises.
This might sound harsh, but it’s actually much easier to go in 100% than 95%. If you’re at 95%, that last 5% will always find an excuse and before you know it you’ll be at 0.
For this reason, it’s important to choose something you can actually stick to. Start small and if you feel it’s not enough of a challenge, increase until you feel you’re edge.
A few ideas:
- If you want to keep a healthy diet, decide not to consume any sugar/coffee/alcohol/animal products, etc. for the next week/month/6 months.
- If you want to exercise regularly, do something to break a sweat once every day.
- If you want to start a yoga or meditation practice, meditate for 30 minutes or do three asanas every day.
- If you want to be more focused and productive at work, dedicate at least one hour every day to concentrating completely on your work: no Facebook breaks or checking your phone during this time.
- If you want to be more cheerful and friendly, smile at a stranger once a day.
Just think what you want to change in yourself and consider what can move you in that direction.
And then make it happen!
This is an exercise not just in whatever you’re trying to practice, but in sheer willpower and determination. Just the commitment to doing something every single day builds inner strength and consistency that you can apply to everything. It allows you to trust in yourself and your own power.
Challenge yourself every day
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Always do what you are afraid to do.”
As long as we stay in our comfort zone, there’s no opportunity to grow.
A great practice to kick-start your personal growth is committing yourself to challenge your limits once every day.
This doesn’t have to mean a trek up Mt. Everest. Just think of everyday situations where maybe you have a pattern of giving up or backing down.
Maybe you’re afraid to share your ideas in meetings. Maybe when your boss or your partner makes an unreasonable request, you force a smile and just go with it instead of standing up for yourself.
It can be an interesting experiment. What happens if you say “no” once a day?
This in itself is a challenge for me, and I know I’m not alone!
If you’re one of those people who would rather drink the wrong beverage than tell the barista they made a mistake, start small.
What happens if you put yourself forward when you know you’re the right person for the job? What happens if you say what’s actually on your mind?
It can be a huge act of courage – and a source of strength – to be really honest with others and with ourselves.
Make it a habit to seek out your boundaries and take one step beyond them. You’ll find they’re much wider than you might have thought.
Practice, practice, practice
If you’re still unsure what it feels like to be in your full power, try some activities that are meant to bring this out.
- Martial arts: A classic practice for developing courage, precision and self-confidence.
- Running: Distance running is one of the most mind-over-matter sports. It teaches how to understand our boundaries, including both when to push through and when to respect them.
- Performing: If you like to sing, play music or write poetry, take it out in front of an audience. Look out for an open mic night or try busking in the park.
- Meditation: By meditating, we learn to detach from our own self-imposed limitations and beliefs about ourselves. It can bring a lot of freedom and strength – not to mention concentration! Plus, it’s an exercise in willpower just to sit still and be with yourself no matter what.
- Make a lot of noise: When was the last time you let yourself make as much noise as you could? Find an open space and just yell, scream, sing at the top of your lungs, whatever. It’s an amazing rush of energy.
Limestone dashboard extension
What if every time you opened a new tab on your internet browser, you got a reminder to stay strong and confident?
You can do this with Limestone, a new tab browser extension for Chrome.
Along with inspiration background images, Limestone gives you a personalized greeting, a motivational quote and your to-do list with every new tab.
Just set this greeting to something that will trigger your own sense of willpower. Then you can use the to-do list to stay on track and feel empowered every time you check something off the list.
True courage is the power to go beyond our own limitations.
I might think of myself as being someone who’s afraid of public speaking, who doesn’t have much to contribute or who can’t get stuff done on time.
Really, these are just ideas we have about ourselves. When we let go of them, we can find a whole new wellspring of strength and determination.
And with that, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish.