If you have completed the complimentary workbook you know
that becoming the confident CEO of our lives means we strive to be in charge of
our thought, feelings and behaviors. Often that means raising our standards and
forcing ourselves to do things we don’t want to do. We will be exploring 15-minute
willpower briefly in this post and I will finish up with three questions for
We know that the primitive mind prefers paths of least resistance, or as I like to call them “cow paths.” The primitive mind is stubborn so it is important to look at change from an incremental perspective. How can we expect ourselves to do the big things we need to do to reach our potential if we can’t even get ourselves to take care of the little things?
As I mention in the second workbook willpower is like a muscle that must be conditioned. Some of us are born with greater reserves of willpower then others are, and certainly as we navigate through our days, we use up this resource. If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, anger or addiction issues then your reserves will be low, especially if you are fighting triggers all day.
However, I’d like to encourage you to begin thinking in 15-minute increments and we are focusing here on the little things that have been left undone. Fifteen minutes is a perfect amount of time to challenge ourselves to get things done even when we don’t feel like it.
I have no doubt that there are countless things that you do in the course of a day that you just don’t feel like doing. But you do them anyway, and the reason you do them is either to avoid pain or gain pleasure. Take a minute now and think of at least 5 things you do on a daily basis, that you do not feel like doing, and then ask yourself if you do these things to gain pleasure or avoid pain. The answers will provide you with important insights.
The problem is that avoiding the little things provides short term relief. We all want relief! But the little things weigh on our mind, drain willpower and interfere with clear creative thinking. We put things off rather than just biting the bullet and taking action. The longer we hesitate the more our momentum and desire to complete a task dwindles. This creates unnecessary stress. To top it off, we forget how good it feels to get something taken care of.
Can you think of things that need to be done that you put off regularly? I’ll give you a few personal examples. Getting online to do my banking is a chore when really it only takes less than 10 minutes to get bills paid. Emptying the dishwasher is a chore that really only takes about five minutes. Sorting laundry and throwing in a load likely takes less than fifteen minutes. Making a call that I don’t feel like making likely takes less then fifteen minutes. Setting a timer for 15 minutes and completing these tasks always makes me feel better, freeing up mental energy for more important things.
When we don’t do the little things that keep life humming along, we run the risk of either becoming overwhelmed or underwhelmed. When we are overwhelmed the little things begin to feel BIG. When we become underwhelmed it is often because we are saving our energy for simple survival.
There is something to be said for “just do it.” We are not talking about running a marathon, writing a novel, earning a Ph.D. or building a business. We are talking about the little tasks that are left undone because we “don’t feel like it.”
Every time we let ourselves off the hook, we allow our willpower muscle to become a little flabbier. We learn to identify ourselves as lazy or ineffectual and in effect, build this into our self-concept. Then when we need it for something important is it any wonder that we waffle, analyze to death, make excuses, whine and avoid?
To be the CEO of our lives we need to take decisive action and get the little things done. Doing the little things builds up our “umph” and sets the stage for bigger more important tasks. If we are to close the GAP between where we are now and where we want to be in the future we need to learn, grow and experiment, and we must take the needs of the primitive mind into consideration. You may want to review the “how do I get there?” section in the complimentary workbook.
Let’s wrap up with 3 questions:
1. What 5 things you do on a regular basis, that you do not feel like doing? Do you do these things to gain pleasure or avoid pain?
2. What is one important “thing” that if completed, would move you forward, and would only take you 15 minutes?
3. If you did this one thing regularly what impact would that have on your willpower muscle and ultimately your goals?
Terri Lee Cooper MSc. RSW