Where to Find More Willpower

I voluntarily wake up at 4:45am every day and go to the gym before work. I know it sounds crazy, really, I know it does. But believe me when I tell you that I have no choice.

After teaching all day I use the rest of my strength to drag out a heavy coffee pot for one more cup to keep me awake for my commute – so I don’t end up sleeping past my stop, all the way to the end of the subway line.

Once I’m home, my afternoons and evenings are for cuddling up with my dogs and laptop – not stuffing myself into stretchy pants and torturing my muscles.

When I started going to the gym I thought I might be nuts. Was I going to be one of the millions who make a resolution and give up on it a few months later? Thankfully I wasn’t, and I really started to like the gym. Actually, I’ve become super at going to the gym.  So I recently started to be suspicious about my lack of discipline in other areas of my life that I say I want to improve.

I started to wonder what my gym formula had that other areas of my life were missing, and I think I may be on to something…

Not going to the gym is simply not an option for me. I know how I’ll feel if I don’t go. On a day I just can’t possibly drag myself out of bed for a workout, I know I’ll be adding guilt and regret to the the pretty picture I painted of myself at 3pm.  Add shame and self-loathing if I decide to eat a cookie with that coffee.

I’ve realized that I’ve been willing to skip a few things here and there in my career because I didn’t think they would really make a very big difference to me getting ahead or achieving my goals.  Next episode please, Netflix

Wrong. So wrong.

I know very well that when I miss a day at the gym it makes a difference. I don’t feel as energetic for the rest of the day and I’m disappointed in myself. I also know that there’s a big difference between people who go to the gym every day and those who go three times a week. There’s an even bigger difference from those who go once and a while or not at all.

So, I’ve recently begun to view willpower very differently. It’s not as much about discipline as it about choice. For some reason I don’t give myself a choice about going to the gym. And starting now, no more skipping days of networking or marketing. No more putting off phone calls or returning tough emails.

Every day, every little thing I do makes a difference and adds up to progress – bigger success muscles if you will. And even if it isn’t giant progress at first, at least I can say I showed up, tied up my shoes and did a little something rather than nothing.

Our goals shouldn’t just be nice ideas. They are top priority and not achieving them is  just not an option.

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