Of self-control (willpower)

It is interesting to me that when the Apostle Paul lists the fruit of the spirit that alongside love, joy, peace and goodness, he lists self-control.

People talk about willpower a lot.  Usually in the context of a lack.

I watched Robin Sharma's webinar on willpower this week.  It recapped some of the science I read last year in Paradox of Choice and How we Decide  that talked about ego depletion.  Ego depletion is the idea that willpower draws from a pool of your mental resources that can actually be used up. (Sharma's webinar talks about how to build more of those resources.)

It appears that the more decisions we make in a day, the less resources we have to make those decisions as the day goes on. Sharma points out that one of the reasons minimalism is an effective strategy is that it leaves you with more resources to pour into something great.

I think there is another way to do this too, and that is by only making a decision once.  By making a decision not to drink alcohol or to exercise every day or to get to bed at a certain time every night or to give a certain amount of your income away every month, you are only making a decision once. Which in some ways is more effective than choosing contextually all the time.

For John and I tithing (or giving away a 10th of our income) was a decision made once.  In the beginning, I really wrestled with it. I worried we wouldn't have enough money.  But now, I don't think about it at all.  The decision was made such a long time ago that execution is automatic at this point. We've seen the benefits of it.  (It makes you hold your money more loosely, creates better fluidity in your finances and just makes you feel good about being generous.)

I'm curious how this "decide once" principle might play out in the work I'm doing with Karen McCarville of Mindful Life Nutrition.  What things do I need to "decide once" on and then just do? Not just for a time period to meet some goals, but forever so that it becomes a part of me?


There's an interesting balance between "deciding once" as a strategy to free up mental resources and in looking at the things we've "decided once" on in the past to make sure that we are living an intentional life. (As we grow and become not all of our "decide once" choices will still fit us.) Will—by nature—takes us on a path.  We have to make sure that path is intentional.
© Random Cathy
Maira Gall