Do you believe that willpower and hard work is all it takes to change a habit?
I have worked with so many people who suffer from all kinds of addictions and I can promise you it takes a lot more than just hard work to change a habit.
Professor of psychology at Stanford University, Carol Dweck studied motivation and achievement for decades to arrive at a theory about mindsets.
She proposes that people generally fall into one of two categories: a fixed mindset or those with a growth mindset.
It Depends On Your Mindset
If you have a fixed mindset, you believe that advantages – like your intelligence, abilities and talents – are unchangeable regardless of effort. Any time a fixed mindset person experiences failure; they suffer a hit to their self confidence and self worth.
But most importantly, they know that anyone can create their own potential by applying themselves.
If you view failure as a challenge and a chance to learn and improve, then you are someone with a growth mindset.
Fostering a growth mindset is crucial to enable you to learn from your setbacks and continue to personally grow over a lifetime.
Using Willpower To Stop An Unwanted Behavior
When you are stuck in a fixed mindset, you think the only way to lose weight or stop drinking or smoking or any other bad habit, is to be tough and use your willpower. You many believe that is all you need to be successful!
The fixed mindset people think that if you cannot stop your unwanted behavior than you are weak and don’t have “enough” willpower.
The people who think this way may firmly resolve to change, but they don’t create a game plan to ensure they are successful. They are just relying on their belief of their own self-control.
“Quitting will be easy – I’m strong.”
When you succeed in accomplishing those goals, you feel a sense of pride knowing you did it!
But for long-term, indefinite goals like “getting healthy” willpower rarely works and with a fixed mindset instead becomes the source of your pain and unhappiness.
Without a game plan for success, you never feel a sense of accomplishment. You might have small victories here or there – I lost 5 lbs! I only had one drink or one cigarette! – but there’s always plenty of more hurdles ahead.
It Never Ends!
Inevitably, when the person with a fixed mindset fails in some way – by eating that cookie or having that cigarette or drink – they beat themselves up. They feel disheartened, weak and like a failure.
Quick Fixes Don’t Work
For many of us there have been times in our life when we want to quickly lose weight before a wedding or a school reunion.
When they can no longer stand it and they end up cheating and feeling like a failure.
If you suggest they try an overall healthy eating plan, rather than a quick fix, they respond, ‘I just need to use my willpower to be strong!”
They probably will lose weight for the wedding or the reunion, but statistics prove that most people invariably end up putting back more than they lost.
So if you are wanting to get healthy, quit smoking or change a behavior remember will power needs help; you need to come up with a plan.
Making A Plan Works
Those of you with a growth mindset, understand to be successful, you will need to figure out and practice long-term strategies for change.
You are not the type of person who makes New Year’s resolutions and waits to see if they’ll stick!
No, those of you with the growth mindset know it is important if you are going to a party or out to eat and drink to plan ahead.
You choose what you will or will not eat, drink or smoke instead of hoping you will have the willpower to make the correct choice at the moment of truth.
Once you reach your goal, you think proactively about maintenance – how you will behave and act and what habits will you create to continue your success.
What will you do when you are feeling discouraged, lonesome or annoyed instead of drinking, smoking or eating?
Of course, there will be the setbacks, but instead of beating yourself up, you ask, “What have I learned from this? How will I do it differently next time when I’m in the same situation?”
What’s The Point Of A Healthy Lifestyle?
You make it a learning process, not a fight between the bad and the good you!
The whole point of living a healthy life is not only to look great but to feel good about yourself.
Pushing yourself toward health with willpower undermines this goal. Because even if you could do it, it feels terrible.
It feels way better to work with yourself instead of against yourself.
Become That Person With The Growth Mindset
Need help “working with yourself?” Contact me and let me help you start being a person with a growth mindset!
How does using your willpower make you feel? Let me know in the comments below…