Finding the motivation to keep writing can be tough — especially when we’re working on a long-term project that requires a steady dose of stick-to-it-iveness. Anything that can help us sustain the mental energy and emotional stamina we need is worth checking out. That’s why I was excited when I came across an online story on the site Willpowered.co about how to mobilize our “want power.”
There are three types of willpower we use to assert self-control and keep ourselves on track toward a goal according to research by Kelly McGonigal quoted in the article:
“I will power” — this is what we use to get ourselves out of bed when we’re tired, to push ourselves to go to the gym, or complete a writing session that we’re not eager about doing.
“I won’t power” — this is kind of self-control we use to resist a fattening desert or reject the idea of watching a movie instead of working on our book.
“I want power” — “This is true motivation and inspiration reside,” according to Willpowered’s Colin Robertson. This is what you use to keep yourself going when you truly believe that what you are doing is worthwhile — that it has intrinsic value. It’s not about craving, it’s about choosing.
“Both I Will Power and I Won’t Power require a lot of mental energy for us to use,” observes Robertson. “They drain our willpower and leave us feeling tired after the task is complete. I Want Power, on the other hand, requires almost no mental energy…. As anyone who has been truly inspired can attest to, this deep, purposeful, motivation actually leaves us feeling more energized.” In fact, when we are in this zone, our brain helps us tap reserves of energy we didn’t know we had.
How can mobilize our I Want Power? Research shows that you can shift your mindset simply by changing your language. One powerful example: Shift from, “I have to” to “I get to.” When you view a plan or goal as something you “have to” do, your brain is more likely to see it as a burdensome obligation and come up with excuses for you to skip it.
On the other hand, when you see a plan or goal as something you “get to” do, your brain sees it as a gift: a desired action and a privilege, and responds with an extra dose of energy. So instead of telling yourself you “have to” write those 500 words or revise that chapter, edit your self-talk: Shift from “have to” to “get to” and see what happens as you write on.