The power to change has a lot to do with how you pay attention to what matters for you. In this video, Kelly McGonigal PhD, health psychologist and author of the Willpower Instinct shares practical steps based on research on what powers your Willpower to change!
Kelly McGonigal PhD, defines willpower as the ability to make choices that are consistent with your biggest goals and highest values even when some part of you doesn’t want to.
She speaks of three powers that make willpower work: “I will”, “I won’t” and “I want”. “I will” power is to say “Yes” to things that may be uncomfortable or the power to take positive action. “I won’t” power is to say “No” to the things that are inconsistent with our values. Supporting these is “I want” power which is to have a sense of your core goals and values or what you care about and what matters. For what we really want, our willpower is not easily limited.
On how willpower can help you create a happier life, she suggests that you tap on a self-defining future memory that you imagine about something that feels important to you as it increases motivation and willpower and supports you in the change of behaviour you want to make. The question to ask is who would you want to be in the future? And to allow yourself to feel that desire to change to move towards who you want to be in the future.
Contrary to popular belief that you must be harder on yourself in order to change, she says that when you are compassionate towards yourself when you fail to do what you want to do, you connect with the part of you that wants to make the change, feeling in your heart and mind your desire to change.
She shares a three-step mindfulness process that can help us to change:
- Intention – by connecting to something that you care about and what matters most to you, or “I want” power
- Attention – by giving self-compassionate attention to your thoughts, words, actions that support your intention to change and paying attention to how your environment and relationships can support your intention to change
- Action – after being clear of your intention and being willing to pay attention to move towards your intention to change, you commit to take small steps everyday towards this intention to change
At the end of the interview she speaks to how we can relate to technology in ways that are nourishing instead of destructive, to recognise the cost to your life of destructive ways of relating to technology, and finally to commit to take small steps towards your intention to change.
Start connecting to something that you care about and what matters most to you and see how it will power power your intention, attention and action for change.