Why Do You Feel Like You Have No WILLPOWER?
Willpower is what is going to make or break you in any endeavor you choose, be it artistic, business, romantic, or health oriented. I hear from so many of you about your struggles with willpower even when you aren’t trying to articulate anything regarding self-control.
Some of you complain about the music business, about your skirmishes with band members, about lack of management (even though there is nothing to manage yet), about the frustrations you have with becoming the professional artists you aspire to be.
Assuming (this is a HUGE assumption for many of you) that you have AWARENESS of what is required for you to succeed, you then need some discipline to concoct a plan of attack and persist through the trials and tribulations of executing said blueprint.
This requires willpower.
Once you become aware that:
- You need to learn to improve your craft
- You need to learn to market your craft
- You need to learn some business to bring your craft into the world’s awareness.
- Nobody is going to do it for you because of your talent.
You begin to employ willpower to seek new information and new methodologies. You then apply that data to your current situation.
I have news for you, the premise that “knowledge is power” is a false truth. Rather knowledge is potential power which is only transformed into real power when applied to a specific situation or problem.
I can’t tell you how many well educated people I have met that are simply flabbergasted that they don’t have a job or that they aren’t making what “they should be making” based on the knowledge they own.
Well, the hustle is always sold separately, man.
First you have to know.
Then you have to do.
The “doing” is going to require perseverance, resolve, and constitution; aka WILLPOWER.
I have been reading a book called WILLPOWER: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney.
FYI, I am reading this because I am AWARE that I can improve on my willpower and execution so I am intentionally seeking OUTSIDE INPUT to learn real facts instead of creating false stories in my mind about what I think I know.
I swear, I spend more time successfully and unsuccessfully dispelling the misguided stories and strategies that artists believe will create career momentum.
I want to share some of the content of this book because I feel like if you understand yourselves a little better every day, you will improve your ability to master your mind.
The more you learn to master your mind, the more you will succeed.
Did you know that willpower is like a muscle that often gets fatigued when exercised?
Therefore, you can predict the strength of your willpower if you are aware of what to look for and how it works.
Think of it like this: If you’re lifting weights and you want to beat a personal bench press record, would you attempt that feat right after a full workout or would you fare better going for the record after a light warm up?
The answer seems obvious, right? If you work out too hard immediately preceding the record breaking attempt, you won’t have enough energy to move the weight.
Guess what, willpower is the same. It’s an energy.
More accurately it’s a finite amount of energy that can be depleted and replenished.
Once it’s depleted our personalities can change with regards to mood swings (emotional control), decision making (impulse control), perseverance (performance control), and concentration (thought control).
In essence, certain physical, mental, and physiological processes don’t “make us” emotional.
Instead they consume energy and lower our willpower to control these emotions.
For example the mental energy required to quit smoking is far greater earlier in the day than later in the day (nicotine cravings aside).
Another example is PMS in females. Studies show that physiologically, the female body diverts an incredible amount of energy specifically to the ovaries during the premenstrual luteal phase of ovulation which leaves very little energy for willpower.
Thus, women experience a heightened sense of emotion when the reality is the world outside did not change from the day before. Any outbursts or intense feelings are not because their emotions are any greater, or the event causing the flare-up is any more significant, or even that the woman thinks the event is any more substantial.
The behavior change is due to a significant decrease in energy normally allocated for willpower.
This translates to some women sobbing uncontrollably during a Chevrolet commercial and all men looking on with a sense of horror and confusion.
We can divide the uses of willpower into 4 broad categories:
- Control of Thoughts – Sometimes it’s a losing battle like when you can’t get rid of that annoying song in your head. Sometimes we use willpower not to seek the fullest or best answer but to arrive at a predetermined conclusion. These are the deal making conversations we have with ourselves. Think of theologians and believers who filter the world to remain consistent with the non-negotiable principles of their faith. Tiger Woods convinced himself that the rules of monogamy don’t apply to him, he seriously thought nobody would care about the extra-curricular love life of the world’s most famous athlete. Y’all convince yourselves that your music is awesome (and needs no improvement) and the world will magically find out (without marketing).
- Control of Emotions – This focuses specifically on your mood (scientists call this affect regulation). Most commonly we want to escape bad moods and unpleasant thoughts although, occasionally, we avoid cheery thoughts in the case of a funeral or when we’re preparing to deliver bad news. Sometimes we choose to hold on to emotions like anger when we are going to lodge a complaint. Emotional control requires a ton of energy because while we can change what we think about or how we behave, we generally cannot alter our mood by an act of will. As such, we seek indirect strategies to ward off sadness and anger by using distracting thoughts and rituals like meditating, working out, losing ourselves in a TV show, chocolate binges, shopping sprees, and intoxication.
- Impulse Control – This is what most people associate with willpower; the ability to resist temptations like nicotine, alcohol, sweets, sex, etc. Baumeister says “impulse control’ is technically a misnomer in that you cannot control your actual impulses, rather you can only control your reaction to them.
- Performance Control – This is the art of focusing your energy on the task at hand, finding the right combination of speed and accuracy, managing time, and persevering when you feel like quitting.
Once you internalize the fact that willpower is a finite energy that depletes and replenishes on a daily basis, it’s easier to understand how to improve it.
For instance, a solid strategy for a warring romantic couple would be to get home earlier rather than continuing to work late. While this seems counterintuitive (why would they want to get home early only to fight more?), if their willpower isn’t completely exhausted they will use it to bite their tongue more, choose their battles, make better decisions, etc.
For artists, you need to tackle the most foreign and least pleasant tasks that are crucial to your success, first and foremost in your day.
If you LOVE playing guitar but HATE learning about marketing, you’d better take care of the marketing first because your willpower energy reserve will be higher thus, giving you a better chance of improving.
If you have a day job, you’d better GET UP EARLIER and handle your artist duties before you go to work. Watch how quickly your life changes with this approach.
Additionally, using willpower for too many tasks at one time is setting yourself up for failure; you need to focus on one task at a time.
New Year’s Resolution lists SUCK. That is another way to put it.
Anyone with a multitude of resolutions like lose weight, drink less, eat healthier, work harder, stop smoking, etc. inevitably ends up distraught and embarrassed to look at the list by February 1st.
This causes them to feel as if they don’t have any willpower.
The reality is the problem isn’t with their willpower, it’s with the list.
What does your artist “to-do” list look like?
Are you overwhelmed?
My guess is you’re willpower is fine, you’re just frustrated because you’re focusing on the whole list.
You will need every ounce of willpower energy to quit smoking just like you will need every bit of mental strength to learn to market your music better. Don’t spread it too thin, man.
What do you need to learn?
What do you need to improve upon in order to realize your dream of making a living at your music?
Focus on one project at a time – if you set more than one self-improvement goal you may persevere for a while by drawing on reserves to power through but it leaves you more depleted and more prone to serious mistakes later.
This, in turn, leaves you more frustrated.
Frustration makes you feel like your haters are right, you’re not going make it.
You can make it.
It’s easier now than ever before to reach your audience.
I want you to win.
Try a simple change to your approach to avoid willpower burnout.
For one week I want you to tackle the one looming artist task you have been procrastinating (this is probably either marketing in general or EFFECTIVE, INTELLIGENT marketing), first thing in the morning.
If your mornings are busy, wake up earlier.
Just do it.
Then let me know if you’ve made any progress.
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