The Value of Willpower
In times of immediacy, ease, and the rise of hedonism, we need to rediscover a value that has become somewhat neglected and perhaps doesn't have such a good reputation. However, when exercised consciously, it brings great satisfaction: "willpower."
Willpower is the capacity we have as human beings to sustain an action from a decision despite daily obstacles, personal setbacks, and changes in our emotional states.
Let's review our history a bit... When we are children, we want everything now. We don't tolerate waiting. At the slightest need, we long for immediate satisfaction. We feel hungry, we want to eat. We're bored, we want to be entertained. We desire something, we want to obtain it without delay.
Our caregivers are the ones who respond as best they can to these demands. The way they do this will largely influence how the child exercises willpower in their adult life:
- Some parents, at the slightest whimper, will provide and indulge. These children will grow into adults who seek immediate gratification and abandon their goals at the slightest frustration or minimal effort.
- Other parents will ignore and underestimate the child's needs. As adults, they may not even set objectives because they will take for granted that they won't achieve them.
- In between are those parents who balance the child's demands well. They teach the importance of waiting, dedication, effort, and perseverance. And they not only teach but also practice these values in their lives, being consistent with what they try to convey. Children raised this way will grow up with the ability to sustain their actions despite frustration and the temptation of immediate satisfaction.
This leads us to the conclusion that, as parents, we can contribute significantly to developing the virtue of willpower in our children. Children who have been encouraged to follow this path are fortunate. However, let's not lose hope! Those who haven't had that luck are destined to leave all their projects halfway. They just need to train their willpower in the school of everyday life and find opportunities to strengthen it with each new experience.
Willpower is the ability we possess as human beings to sustain an action from a decision, despite daily adversities, personal setbacks, and changes in our emotional states.
Childhood is not destiny
I am a staunch advocate of the idea that "childhood is not destiny," and as adults, we can nurture our underdeveloped aspects and fill in what's missing to enrich our personality.
Willpower, like any other quality, is a muscle that can be exercised in the gym of life. It becomes stronger and grows in those who take on the titanic task of maintaining their goals despite fatigue, laziness, frustration, and mistakes.
People who cultivate willpower manage to see the positive outcomes of sustaining their efforts. They look beyond the immediate sacrifice it requires. They accompany this vision with a fundamental quality: self-motivation.
Being motivated means having a reason to carry out an action. This reason may be momentarily concealed and depends on each individual to remind themselves of why they are making a particular effort. Being aware of the "why" sustains and nourishes the "what."
Being conscious of the "why" sustains and nourishes the "what."
Choosing to forgo immediate pleasure is an investment in future satisfaction. In this way:
- We may not feel like studying, but we want to graduate.
- We may not feel like exercising, but we want to feel vital and healthy.
- We may feel like staying in bed, but we want to submit our work on time.
- We may be attracted to someone else, but we want to be faithful and take care of our family.
From Having a Good time to Doing Good for ourselves
If, in addition to "having a good time," we seek to "do good for ourselves," we will gradually construct a life that genuinely pleases us and of which we can feel proud. A daily routine where the achieved results have the flavor of triumph and personal growth grants us a deeper sense of satisfaction than surrendering to momentary comfort or pleasures. It's not the same as having a good time as it is to "do good for ourselves." Emotional maturity signifies a transition toward choosing what is beneficial for oneself, even if that choice requires transcending apathy, making efforts, and overcoming lethargy. This doesn't mean giving up having a good time but rather the conquest of a much deeper sense of being content with ourselves and proud of who we are, moment by moment. It's an emotion that is indeed deeper and more sustained over time.
Hence, exerting one's will toward achieving personal goals gifts us an existence in which growth is not measured by chronological age but by the expansion of one's own resources. It's worth clarifying that talent is generally not the result of divine inspiration but of diligent, enriched, sustained, and honored action.
I know more happy and valuable individuals because they have made themselves who they are, rather than those who have had a good time throughout their lives. Similarly, more people feel frustrated because they abandoned their goals rather than because they are left with unfulfilled desires (to go out, sleep, come and go).
As the years go by, we all look back. If the harvest is good, it's because we have known how to cultivate the values of effort, perseverance, awareness, and diligent will. All these qualities are conquered daily and perfected through practice.
Talent is generally not the result of divine inspiration but of diligent, enriched, sustained, and honored action.
How can we train our Willpower?
Define and prioritize what is important to you. We have a finite amount of time to manage it according to the goals we have in life. If you don't have goals, you've skipped a step! First, reflect on your motivations in life. Everyone can build personal purposes even if these are not clear to us from the beginning.
Set up routines that involve pre-established decisions on how you'll organize each day. This prior organization prevents the conflict of having to choose between various options every day. The decision has already been made based on the commitment you've made to yourself, without getting into internal debates that waste time or letting yourself be guided by momentary emotions. There's no room for doubt (you said you would do this, so you will do it. Don't allow for justifications or tricky renegotiations).
Open your mind, oxygenate your brain with new ideas, discover new ways to continuously improve what is important to you. This attitude is stimulating and motivates commitment to our tasks.
Do something with that knowledge:
Put into practice what you're incorporating. The only things that create real changes in life are actions. Theories, ideas, and intentions are the nutrients for the results you can achieve, but for concrete outcomes, you must make decisions and take actionSi a tus deseos no le siguen las acciones, serán como flores sin tallo. Desea fuerte, pero, sobre todo, echa raíces y riega…"
There's no magic or unfulfilled promises, there's commitment and nourished action.
Willpower feeds Self-Confidence.
Willpower is the virtue that strengthens Self-Confidence. We affirm ourselves each time we promise something to ourselves and act in accordance with that purpose. When setting a goal, we must immediately ask ourselves if we are determined to make the efforts required to achieve what we desire. If not, it's time to seek dreams that match the efforts we are willing to undertake.
The people you admire didn't have luck; they had the will to dedicate themselves with determination to a vocation or a goal. There's no magic or unfulfilled promises; there's commitment and nurtured action. Directed and sustained will creates everything that isn't immediately visible from the start, but is beneath the fertile ground of what we have sown with perseverance and watered daily. The sprout will emerge; trust! Willpower is, to a large extent, the guarantee of what you want to achieve in your life!