Willpower and Setting Goals

Coaching is a truly effective way to recognize what behaviors and attitudes are working for you and which ones are not. Is your exercise plan realistic for your busy lifestyle? Do you sabotage your desire to eat fresh healthy foods by stocking the pantry with processed junk for the kids? A careful inventory of your lifestyle is designed to boosts your self-awareness around good and bad habits. Once boosted, you move on to making a plan of action with your coach. What do you want to change and how can you change it? This step is all about goal setting. Here is what the authors of Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength have to say about using what we know of our self-control to set and achieve reasonable goals.

Don’t Set Conflicting Goals

How many of us want to be the best we can at our job, parenting and as a devoted spouse or partner? That’s three big goals right there. It’s no surprise that juggling the demands of a job, children and a relationship will leave you exhausted, frustrated, and feeling inadequate at all three.

The result of conflicting goals is worry. We spend our energy scrambling to cope with the demands and so “replace action with rumination.” Our physical and mental health may suffer because we are stuck in a cycle of negative rather than positive emotions. Fewer goals mean a better success rate, but who want to hear that! Keep reading; there are a few things you can do to keep that worry in check.

Short Term vs. Long Term Goals

Concentrate on short-term objectives in lieu of long-term goals. Research has found that meeting short-term goals builds confidence and self-efficacy, and improves learning and performance. Setting long-term goals has the same result as setting no goals at all. So though you may want to lose 50 pounds, you’re better off starting small. The path to the larger goal is filled with many incremental and therefore attainable milestones.

Reduce Mental Nagging


Executive coach David Allen’s book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity describes an elaborate but effective filing system that allows you to prioritize and organize every last task and commitment. His philosophy is based on the Zeigarnik effect. “Uncompleted tasks and unmet goals tend to pop into one’s mind. Once the task is completed and the goal reached, however, this stream of reminders coms to a stop.” In essence the process of making a plan–not necessarily completing the task—frees the mind from niggling worry.

Managing the worry caused by conflicting goals and the stress of the infinite to do list involves making a plan. It’s not necessary to complete the job right now, but once you have an action plan in place, the mind can calm and focus on the task at hand.

More on Willpower

Check out two previous blog posts on the book Willpowerhow willpower works and the connection between willpower and glucose. There are more to come, so please follow the blog (button on the left) to be notified about future posts.


One thought on “Willpower and Setting Goals

  1. Pingback: A Broke Mind Is A Defeated Mind - Budget|Strong : Budget|Strong

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