Will Power and Won’t Power

By Dr. Susanne Gaddis

Until recently, most of us assumed that we needed great willpower to reach our goals.  Now, according to the latest research conducted by Harvard graduate Angela Duckworth, reaching your goals may also be a function of how much “won’t power” you have.

Willpower keeps you focused on what you intend to do. Willpower gives you the energy you need to adopt behavior that works.  For example:

  • “I will work diligently for a half an hour each day to complete this report.”
  • “In order to become healthier, I will exercise one hour per day, three days a week.”

Won’t power, on the other hand, helps you define and eliminate undesirable behaviors.   Won’t power helps you set healthy boundaries and determine what not to do. Those, too, can contribute to reaching a goal.  For example:

  • “When working diligently for a half an hour each day, I will not be distracted by answering the phone or responding to incoming e-mail.”
  • “In order to become healthier when at the fast food window, I will not order the large order of fries.”

Your Prescription: Consider how success is the result of both will power and won’t power.  First, identify a future goal.  Next, take a piece of paper, divide it in half and list how both will and won’t power can help you achieve it.

Interested in learning more? Come to Dr. Gaddis’ workshop!