Using Motivation to Boost Willpower
Motivation can compensate for depleted willpower. Whether your goal is losing weight, getting fit or finishing a project on time, reminding yourself of the reasons you committed to your goal in the first instance can recharge your motivational battery and jump-start your willpower. Your willpower needs this motivational power, especially when running on empty.
The equation is:
Willpower x Motivation x Ability = Level of Success
High levels of motivation can compensate for low levels of willpower. Imagine, for example, it’s Sunday afternoon and you’re struggling to assign time to finishing a work project. You’d rather do (almost) anything else. But you know that the project has to be ready for the 9:00 a.m. meeting the next day.
Assuming you have the competency to accomplish your chosen goal (if not, it could be a bit late to develop at this point!), you can increase the likelihood of a successful outcome by refocusing on your motivation. Ask yourself these questions:
Why did I volunteer to do the project? Reasons may include the skills you might acquire or the new working relationships and friendships that may ensue.
What are the short-term and long-term benefits to the final customers or service users? These can mirror your own motives and values. This focus makes it less likely that you’ll be distracted by the lure of the game on TV or a desire to just chill for the afternoon.
What are the long-term benefits to my role and my career? Asking this helps you overcome the desire to have a smaller, sooner reward – which may be simply not having to make an effort on a Sunday afternoon – instead of the larger, later reward promised by your efforts.
Focusing on long-term or delayed benefits resulting from exerting willpower is a powerful motivational tool. Willpower enables you to look over the horizon, into the long-term future. Forgoing short-term rewards such as the benefit of a relaxing Sunday afternoon or the indulgence of a sugar-laden dessert can be challenging, but maintaining focus on the long-term benefits can help you overcome the tyranny of ‘I want it now’.