All of us have done the mindless clicking from our inbox to Facebook, back to our inbox. It’s not Facebook’s fault. We got distracted long before social media existed.
The reason we are clicking away mindlessly is not because we get distracted. It is because we are avoiding something.
I was a master at avoiding
Before the Facebook days, I would water my plants, re-organize binders of information I’d never look at again or chit chat with an employee about the weather, our kids or the latest community gossip. All the time, I had work to do. I was doing other things, simply to avoid the work I didn't want to do.
I didn’t want to:
• Complete the dreaded paperwork.
• Have a conversation with staff about their performance.
• Write the report, proposal or contract that was on my desk.
To get at all of those tasks required a measure of self-control. I had to be disciplined. I needed to exercise my willpower.
We need to exercise willpower
Willpower is the age old skill of self-control, restraint, strength, and determination. Willpower happens in your head. Our mind-chatter tries to get us to avoid pain. That inner dialogue suggests to us, subconsciously, that doing the work will hurt. Our inner voice says, that somehow if we do the task in from of us, it will be painful, hard or troublesome. So instead, that little gremlin inside suggests we scan the newsfeed instead.
We must be determined to stay on task
It takes a level of resolve to push past that and get to work, especially agonizing jobs. To stay on task, get done the important work and leave feeling productive at the end of your day, you must activate your willpower.
The research on willpower can help us
There are three parts of willpower according to willpower researcher Kelly McGonigal; I will, I won’t, I want.
Get clear on the big picture and what's haunting you today
Many people tie the I want element to something grandiose such as, “I want to live a long healthy life”. This is important, but only part of the puzzle. You must also look at what the smaller parts of the I want element to help you when the donut is right in front of you.
Instead, when we get really clear about why we want it in the nearer future or in a smaller, more meaningful way, it’s easier to be strong-willed. For example, I might avoid the donut today because I want to fit into that dress next month.
Applying willpower at work
Now let us tie willpower back to day-to-day work. What are you trying to accomplish at work? Let’s look at my examples from earlier.
Practicing willpower makes you happier
When you practice accessing your willpower, you will find you are better able to get through some of your more challenging work. It will engage your inner desires to do important, meaningful, but sometimes difficult tasks. In doing so, you will feel more accomplished and confident. Activation your willpower finds you being more productive and going home at the end of the day, a happier person.
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Women leaders often hit a point where they find themselves in over their heads and wondering if they have what it takes to lead.