This post is part of a collaboration with Jess from JessofEarth. We’re both writing blogs on improving work ethic this Spring/Summer season. Check out her post on tips to improve work ethic and give her some love! Actually, give her a lot of love. She deserves it.
“OK. Listen. I’m gonna be straightforward here: I don’t wanna write this post. I feel like I’ve hit a blogging wall that’s taking every ounce of my energy to climb over. I am mentally strained and emotionally fatigued.”
That was me, two Sundays ago. Two Sundays ago, I had absolutely zero chill whatsoever and was at a dead end. And soon I came to a conclusion: There are two things that a person loses when they are at a dead end- appetite and their desire to live. Seriously. I’m not kidding. That whole Sunday was a rhythmic medley of passive starvation and passive, unhealthy introspection.
I knew I had to do something about my appalling state of mind. So I turned to the best person for advice, my one true friend: YouTube.
I spent the rest of the day binge watching some of the world’s biggest stars talk about work ethic and self-discipline and inspiration, but the one recurring core value I saw in all the videos was grit; specifically, willpower.
Willpower is the mind’s ability to stay focused and work tenaciously in the face of various challenges and hurdles. Willpower is basically the supremacy of the mind over the body. It allows us to stay determined, persevere, and achieve success in spite of the ups and downs. Willpower acts as your daily health counting bar. But it’s a finite resource and gets drained for absolutely every activity that you do in a day. So it’s essential that we utilize our willpower in the most efficient way possible.
I found an amazing video by Charlie Houpert on willpower, where he clarifies many common misconceptions about the value and gives really cool tips to strengthen it. Here they are.
Make decisions quickly.
Come on. How much time do you spend deciding which ice cream or soda you want? Or whether you’re gonna finish your work today or later? The answer obviously is a lot.
Not only does this waste your time and energy, but reduces your willpower, bit by bit, each time you deliberate over a petty issue.
Mindlessly going back and forth over multiple decisions only creates more trouble and confusion for your brain. So take it easy, make a snap choice and just do it.
Create ground rules.
It’s always easier when you have a set of predefined rules that you just have to follow. This can be as simple as “I’m going to wake up at 6 and that’s it” or something more serious like “no more than 2 chocolates a month.” Besides, who eats only 2 chocolates a month??
Setting an unfixed rule won’t let you reconsider any other option, therefore not letting you mindlessly deliberate over things and saving your willpower.
Create an environment that supports your work.
This concerns two things: your phone and your friends. But mostly your phone.
If you thrive on social media platforms all day instead of finishing your work, try deleting your apps. If you check Pinterest a lot (like me), try deleting it for a week.This will force you not to check for notifications or get distracted. Unless you want to go through the gruesome task of opening your laptop and signing in again, which I’d really rather not do.
Changing your environment could also mean changing the people you surround yourself with. It is best to live with people who have the same dedication and willpower as you. They don’t need to have the same interests tho. As long as they work as hard or harder than you, you’re doing good.
Prepare for the challenging task first.
No matter how amazing your work might be going at one point, a speed bump is inevitable. And if you’re not ready for that reality, it’s definitely going to be a major blow to your mental strength. So do what you can to prepare yourself for the unwanted or negative outcomes in a situation, so that when they do happen, you’ll be ready to fight the battle. And it’s ok if you lose the battle, as long as you win the war.
Figure out your identity.
*sigh* Look, man. I hate to break it to you, but you’re…. you’re not Will Smith. Ok? So stop trying to act like you got that kind of Willpower(I hope you saw what I did there). Was that too cheesy or was it ok?
Trying to achieve your dreams by following the ethics of someone else is never going to help in the long term. In order to truly flourish in life, it is necessary to know yourself inside out. Know what drives you, your strengths and weaknesses, your flaws and frustrations, and figure out what work ethic works best for you. Because if you don’t, someone else will. And it might not fit you perfectly.
I know sometimes work might seem like a heartless, lifeless job, driving us to the edge of humanity and towards mechanical and robotic emotion, but if you mix your work and willpower with individual identity, that’s when work stops being work and becomes fun.
It’s not that some people have the willpower and some don’t. It’s that some people are ready to change and others are not. -James Gordon