When it comes to willpower, I think many people believe you either have it or you don’t. You either have the ability to stick to a diet, workout plan, or resolution, or you don’t. If you miss a run in your training plan, you obviously didn’t have the willpower to make it happen, right? Wrong. In my mind, having willpower does not mean that you check off every workout on your plan without fail. It doesn’t mean that you always meet your goal of working out X number of days a week. Willpower means that when you’ve missed a workout or had a day of bad nutrition, you have the ability to forgive yourself and start over again. You have the power to rededicate yourself to your goals.
Any number of things can get in the way of your sticking to a plan. Many of them have nothing to do with what people usually think of as “willpower.” The top two things that come to mind when I think about missed workouts both have to do with illness: yours or someone else’s. You might have had every intention of hopping on the treadmill, but instead you spent the day coughing up a lung. Maybe you sat on the couch all day long, but it was only because you’d made your sick toddler a couch bed of towels on which to toss his cookies.
It might even be something less dire that keeps you from getting that workout in. Unexpected bad weather. Workout gear forgotten at home. Maybe even — gasp — a dreaded case of “I just don’t feel like it today.” Suddenly you’ve missed a workout, and now there’s something stopping you from getting back to it and getting that next workout in. Is it a lack a willpower? You didn’t feel like it yesterday, and you don’t have the willpower to force yourself to workout today? No, it’s not a lack of willpower, it’s an abundance of guilt. You feel guilty that you didn’t get that workout in for whatever reason, and now you’re blaming a “lack of willpower.” You have the power. You have the ability to kick your guilt to the curb as you hit the street for a run. Don’t waste your energy beating yourself up over a missed opportunity! Put all your energy into your next workout.
Willpower is simply the ability to see the big picture and to know that one slip-up (or two or three) should not be an excuse to keep you from doing what in your heart you know is best for yourself.
What do you think? Do you have willpower? What happens to you when you hit a bump in your training or eating plan?