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REVELATIONS - September 2015 - Santa Fe

Willpower Woes:

How a Rotten Resolve Can Hurt You

By Merilee Kern


Willpower. We all want it. We all need it. But far too many of us just don’t

have what it takes to stay resolute and determined when the going gets



I connected with the author of Life Rehab: Don’t Overdose on Pain,

People and Power, Kanika Tolver—a Certified Professional Coach and thought leader

who helps individuals realize career, business, life, and spiritual success. She offered

this simple yet insightful 3-step exercise that can help individuals develop better

willpower through practice, progression, and patience:


1. Practice:

  • Brainstorm all of your weaknesses—as many as you can think of—and write them down. When you identify your weaknesses on paper, it initiates the process of acknowledgement and acceptance. We all have weaknesses, whether it’s procrastination or being a “pushover” and the like, that are undermining our ability to be happy and successful. However, thinking comprehensively about our shortcomings and confessing them on paper produces a cathartic sense of awareness and urgency. While any scrap of paper will do, it’s best to invest in a simple journal where you can keep an ongoing log of your flaws and faults that are likely working against you at work, at home and in social circles.


  • Cultivate a list of adversaries. As with your list of weaknesses above that related to your own personality and character traits, it’s also advisable to identify those people and other aspects of your life that challenge your willpower. This can include specific people in your professional and personal life, your job itself, or things like food, alcohol, television, the gym, etc. Keep a running log of these as well so that you remain mindful of exactly what aspects of life you seek to improve. Even try to put this list from most to least important or impactful, with the areas you need the most work on, and that will impact your life most significantly, at the top.


  • Set small, achievable goals for turning your weaknesses into strengths. For each weakness, set small incremental goals. Setting unrealistic goals can lead to disappointment, which often leads to self-sabotage and self-doubt—all of which undercut your efforts to develop stronger willpower. Most of us have spent years repeating a bad habit or suffering a bad relationship. With this exercise, it’s now time to make a conscious choice to make small changes to negate the damage done. A collection of successful small changes will likely lead to big changes, which can lead to life changing transformations. Reward yourself for even the smallest of victories along the journey. Revel in each achievement, however tiny.


2. Progression:

  • Now that you are aware of what about yourself you need to “fix” and in what circumstances, journal your daily progress—both wins, losses and challenges—and your feelings in relation to each. Over time, you will be able to analyze the “data” and discern patterns, including where you fell short, in what circumstances you remained steadfast, and what made you uncomfortable (and which way that ultimately swung). This will expose ways to better apply willpower and manage situations to your benefit. Progression requires transparent hard work and constant self-evaluation. But the prospective payoff is immense.


  • Surround yourself with people who have experience and overcame the same struggles you have. Associating with people who can give you good, proven advice that can be validated with personal anecdotes and insights is priceless. One great strategy is to find an “accountability partner,” support group, mentor or professional coach who can provide valuable objective perspectives and help guide and advise you when challenges present.


3. Patience:

Patience is indeed a virtue because all too few of us have it. But, if you can

effectively exercise patience, it can vastly strengthen your willpower. In fact, the two are

entirely intertwined. We are a culture of instant gratification, and when the universe

does not deliver immediately we tend to get disappointed, which can lead to a “giving

up” or “giving in” mentality—either of which are the enemies of willpower.

Merilee Kern, MBA, is Executive Editor of The Luxe List International News Syndicate,

accomplished entrepreneur, award-winning author and APP developer and influential

media voice. She may be reached online at Follow her on

Twitter here: and Facebook here:

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