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Finesse Your Success — Willpower Wisdom for Smart Business Owners

June 6, 2013

[Guest post from Denise Milligan of SmallSparksBigResults.com]

WillpowerWhat’s the most important thing you need to do to build your business?  How much progress have you made toward actually finishing that project?  If you’re like most people, you’ve got that big dark shadow of “should” hanging over your head.  And I’d be willing to bet that at least once you’ve thought “So-and-so just has more willpower than I do.  If I only had more determination… more willpower…  I could get more stuff done too.”

What if I told you that successful business owners don’t have more willpower than you do — they simply know how to use their willpower efficiently?

A really interesting study about willpower was published in 1998 by Roy Baumeister. In the study, they brought students into a room filled with the aroma of fresh-baked cookies.  On the table was a plate of  warm chocolate chip cookies, and a bowl of radishes.  Some of the students were allowed to eat cookies, while others were asked to eat only radishes.  Afterward, they were all given 30 minutes to complete a difficult puzzle.  The result?  The students who ate radishes — and resisted eating the enticing cookies — gave up on the puzzle after about 8 minutes.  While the lucky cookie-eaters kept at it for nearly 19 minutes, on average.  The amazing discovery was that we actually have a limited supply of willpower — much like a tank of gas.  And as we use up our willpower tank each day, we become less able to power through challenging situations — even minor ones.

That’s one of the significant differences between successful entrepreneurs and those of us who are just learning the ropes.  Successful people have figured out that it’s not about how much you can bulldoze your way through a gazillion tasks.  It’s actually about working smarter.  Successful business owners have learned to focus on one thing at a time until it’s finished.  And, equally as important, they take action on that one task early in the day, while their willpower tank is at it’s fullest.

Not convinced?  You’re pretty darn sure that you’re unique and that you actually do work better at night?  Think about the last time you put something important off until the evening.  I can pretty much guarantee you that you either decided to ditch that task altogether, or you were miserable, shoving your way through it and definitely not doing your best work.

Here’s a little challenge.  Identify the one most important task that you need to get done this week.  Then take one small action, every day, early in the day, and see what happens.

You don’t need to work harder.  You just need to understand that willpower is a limited resource.  Use it wisely!

What do you think?  Have you got a way that you organize your day around your willpower level?  Let us know in the comments.




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  1. Pingback: Consistency is Queen — 4 Steps to Consistent Action | The Coaching Buffet

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