by Meaghan Foley, fitness instructor at Brier Creek Country Club
Motivation seems to be a never-ending battle for some. Seeking and sustaining willpower is often elusive. This is in part because we associate willpower with big action. We get ourselves into a rut and to get out we must ignite this big muscle movement of “willpower,” and even then it only seems to last for a short period of time. There is a reason for this and there is another way, perhaps an easier and effortless way. It’s about managing your autopilot.
“If you want something you have never had, you have to do something you have never done.” ~Thomas Jefferson
“To do the same thing over and over again expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.” ~Albert Einstein
If you have ever heard or subscribed to these quotes then you know the key to change is getting off autopilot and being deliberate about the habits you employ in your life.
Our brain is a highly complex and well-oiled machine in charge of running many functions. Our brain’s best tool to accomplish all of this is to be as energy efficient as possible. From the very start of our lives in utero, we are forming brain-body connections which are pathways for information.
If you have ever hiked through the woods, you could agree that it is more energy efficient to use an existing pathway than it is to create a new one. The same is true of brain pathways. It requires less energy expenditure to use an existing pathway. Once a new pathway becomes well grooved it can be automated. This means you can execute it without thinking, which is highly energy efficient.
You have experienced this shift when you learned to tie your shoes. If you see a young child or perhaps remember you as a young child learning to tie your laces, you might notice how much energy and attention is needed to execute that action. Now as an adult consider how much energy expenditure it takes you to tie your shoes. This process of learning to tie your shoes is an example of how we form habits.
As I stated before, the brain is highly complex and we won’t dive too much into all the intricacies of human development. However, we will dive into this process of forming habits because while it may be the most energy efficient way to operate, it can also get us into trouble. There are many reasons and justifications for why we need habits. However, when we want new or different experiences in our lives, it often comes down to the habits we have running in the background.
Before we can change our lives, we need to change our habits and before we can change our habits we need to get off of autopilot. Getting off autopilot is what my book “Willpower: What a Load of Crap” is all about. Since we have habits in ALL areas of our lives and there is ALWAYS more than one way to do things, these quick and easy techniques span across many areas. Each short chapter includes an activity and is to be done as a 1 day focus. If you are finding it ineffective to “WILL” your way through life and would prefer an easier option, this book is for you.