Why Habits Trump Willpower when it comes to Success

hawaiiduck maya gabeira

It’s a paradox.  Why are some things in life very simple, yet still very difficult to achieve?  For example, if you want to lose 10 pounds, you probably already know how to go about doing that.  Cut out certain bad foods, limit portions, and exercise regularly.   Simple right?  Then why is it so hard?!?!

Here’s why:  Most people are relying on discipline and willpower when it comes to making consistent progress on their biggest goals.  Discipline is hard!  You willpower cannot be trusted.

The issue with relying on discipline and your willpower is that you will not always feel like it.   There is always an excuse to rationalize your momentary feelings.  You can always talk yourself into doing something you shouldn’t (eat that second slice of cake) or out of doing something you should (go to the gym).

nobody said it was easy


In the long run, your willpower sucks!  Having to make the same decision over and over while mustering up the willpower to do what you know you should do just takes way too much mental energy that can be used for better things.  Sure, willpower is a like a muscle and becomes stronger the more you use it.  However, to get to the next level of success, its critical to learn and use this tactic.


Did you know that 90% of what you do every day is done subconsciously?  Think about it, you woke up this morning and probably did the same thing you do every morning without really having to think about it.  Alarm goes off, hit snooze, hit snooze again, roll out of bed, check phone, brush teeth…

When we repeat the same action over and over, it eventually becomes a habit.  Habits are wonderful since they help “re-wire” your brain so that it uses less energy to perform that action which in turn conserves mental capacity for other things.  However, once a habit or routine is in place, it can generally only be replaced by another habit or routine.

Remember when you first learned to drive?  It took all of your concentration and then some!  Now, you can commute through the crazy rush hour traffic while simultaneously checking your phone, singing along with the radio and eating your breakfast.  Ah, the power of habits!


habits quote jim rohn

Habit Building

Okay, so we all know habits are powerful and that all successful people rely on good habits or routines to reach their goals.  The next step is to determine what one habit would help you move toward your goal.  Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to change many things at once.  Instead, just prove to yourself that you can build one new habit that makes consistent progress toward your goal.

Pick one simple thing you will focus on turning into a success habit over the next 21 – 30 days.  It could be as easy as never hitting snooze, reading for 15 minutes every day or writing down your goal every morning.  Just do something every day that will ultimately turn into a habit that will free up some of your willpower for better things.  Trust me, this might be difficult at first but you’ll soon get momentum which is then followed by motivation and increased willpower.  Action first, feelings second.


The Secret

This is the secret behind the insane discipline we see from world class athletes.  Yes, they have great coaches and mentors, killer work ethic, ambition and strong beliefs.  But what keeps them going during those times when they just don’t feel like it is their successful habits and routines.  There’s no need to debate themselves, they just do it.

Is discipline and willpower important?  You bet!  And you’ll need a lot during the first phase of habit building.  However, you should not have to constantly draw on these wells for the longterm.  What starts off as unbelievable discipline and willpower soon turns into habit.  Once things get moving, taking action becomes easier and you’ll be ready to take it to the next level.

We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.  ~Aristotle

Learn the secret to successful habits and routines and use them to build your success machine.  Once your first habit is in place, add a second, then a third and so one.  The compounding effect is pure magic.

We are all slaves to habits.  Decide to be a slave to good habits.


0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply