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Don’t throw in the towel! Do your best now!

June 4, 2010

Swami Budhananda has probably written the best text about the indisputable ingredient of success:- will-power.  I will share a few lines from him since I think they will make an excellent introduction for my post today:

“Without cultivating introspection it is impossible to keep track of all the forces that are operative within us. Without knowing the nature of these forces we cannot be their masters. We are then bound to be their slaves. And what chances do slaves have to develop and exercise their will-power, when that slavery is due to their own unregenerate nature? How can such persons ever build up their character?  How can a man without a character have will-power?”

We can be our worst enemy when it comes to hindering our own potential. There are many forces within us as Swami Budhananda points out and sometimes these forces may work against us if we are not mindful about their effects on our lives.  How, then, can we stop enslaving ourselves and cultivate will-power to reach our utmost potential? In order to answer that question, let’s first consider the definition, probably the best definition you’ll ever find on will-power, offered by Swami Budhananda:  “It is that positive and creative function of the mind which impels, propels and enables us to do chosen actions in a definitive way, and avoid doing unchosen actions in an equally definitive way. It is that power of the mind which enables us to do what we know to be right, and not do what we know to be wrong, under all circumstances favorable or unfavorable, known or unknown.”

It is essential that we have a good look at ourselves before working on developing or increasing our will-power. In my previous posts my intention was for you to answer the following questions and hence to help you do some introspection:

Do you do your best despite difficulties? Do you program your thoughts positively and visualize yourself at your goal? Are you authentic, true to yourself? Are you courageous enough to accept who you are and demonstrate your true self to the world? Do you feed the love and creative force within you? If you answered these questions affirmatively, then you are ready to talk about developing will-power that will lead you to your dreams. Why? Because, if the answers are positive, there won’t be any excuses that would weaken your will to develop your will-power!

In this post, I will try to point out what we should avoid in order to have strong will-power and what we can do to increase our will-power. My hope is to draw your attention to things that you might be doing and help you gain consciousness about your actions so that you can start boosting your will-power.

First, here is a list of will-power killers you should guard yourself against:

  • Having regrets about the past; wishing that you should have done things differently so that you’re not in the situation you’re in right now;
  • Living with a sense of guilt; blaming yourself, others or circumstances for your situation;
  • Having self-doubt, self-limiting thoughts;
  • Evading discomfort or actions that you do need to take if you are to reach your goal; procrastination;
  • Yielding to short-term pleasures at the expense of future gains;
  • Worrying about the future, the moments that are not yet lived; futile thoughts on what if the same mistakes get repeated and the possible negative outcomes.

Other than avoiding the above, there are a few things that you can do to increase your mindfulness and have a positive impact on your will-power. Coach Goldsmith suggests that in order to have a happier and more meaningful life, you should apply the “two question” discipline to any activity that you’re going to undertake.  You flash forward an hour into the future and ask yourself:

1) How much long-term benefit or meaning did I experience from this activity?

2) How much short-term satisfaction or happiness did I experience in this activity?

These seemingly very simple questions are quite powerful to guide us to do what is most beneficial to us. They teach us to be mindful about our actions and to take control of our lives.  They are probably the first steps to help us be committed to our resolutions.

It is of utmost importance to be in control of our lives if we are to live up to our highest convictions. Feeling out of control makes us weak and demotivates us. We not only have to have the desire to reach our goals but also be determined and committed to be the master of our own lives.  If we have self-discipline to do our best right now,  we’d have better possibilities to reach our potential and live happier and more fulfilling lives.

Here are some things that you can do to make your life more purposeful and keep resentment out of it:

  • Know your values, passions, probe into your purpose in life, align whatever you do or say with your values and purpose;
  • Set small realistic goals that can take you to your purpose eventually; small successes can motivate you;
  • Establish a routine to do your projects that will help get you to your goal; take one step at a time;
  • Reduce distractions, find suitable moments to be able to concentrate effectively;
  • Reserve your mental energy, make an effort to quiet your mind;
  • Don’t take failures too seriously; try to implement your plan A in a different way, and always have a plan B;
  • Surround yourself with positive, creative, supportive people;
  • Think and speak positively. The right thoughts and words will convert themselves into right actions.

“In the heart of this moment is eternity.” said Meister Eckhart. Nothing better can ever be done for the future than doing our best right now.

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