As someone with a calling to bring as much impact and as much joy as you can into the world, how do you build up your ability to take more positive action, more consistently, from one moment to the next?
That's the question this post explores, looking at findings from the last 50 years of research on willpower and self regulation.
A helpful place to start is with the model that taking action depends on lining up our knowledge (what to do), our skills (how to do it), and our mindset (our desire to do it).
Very often our mindset is where we get stuck in taking action--we know what the right, positive thing to do is, and we know how to do it, but somehow in the moment we just don't feel like doing it...
We can define willpower as being able to get ourselves to take action in alignment with our highest and best selves even when our thoughts and feelings and pulling us in a different direction.
Let's look at 8 ideas from some key researchers about what can we do to help ourselves line up our own mindset more consistently in the moment to support the actions we know are aligned with our highest and best selves and our aspirations for positive impact as change agents.
This is about being able to take that split second pause in the moment before you make a choice you'll later regret
In many cases being able to delay your action by as little as two tenths of a second is all that it takes to resist your instinctive reaction and choose an aligned response
If you've questioned whether meditation would work for you, or struggled to get started--me too! Check out this blog post for a bunch of on-ramps and ways to get started that don't involve trying to clear your mind of all thoughts
”Neuroscientists have discovered that when we ask the brain to meditate, it gets better not just at meditating, but at a wide range of self-control skills, including attention, focus, stress management, impulse control, and self-awareness. People who meditate regularly aren’t just better at these things. Over time, their brains become finely tuned willpower machines. Regular meditators have more gray matter in the prefrontal cortex, as well as regions of the brain that support self-awareness.”
--Kelly McGonigal PhD, The Willpower Instinct
”Slowing the breath down activates the prefrontal cortex and increases heart rate variability, which helps shift the brain and body from a state of stress to self-control mode.”
--Kelly McGonigal Ph.D.
If you're interested in delving deeper into this body of research, and how to apply it to your life, I'd highly recommend any and all of the books below! And there are a bunch more resources and tools that you can access an
I'd love to hear any thoughts and reflections you have about your own journey, whether you're giving money away, raising it, or just looking to kick some ideas around. Reach out to me anytime at [email protected]
And if you want to access the frameworks and tools we use in our coaching practice, many of them are available for free in the Joyful Impact resource library. Just click here to create an account if you don't have one already.
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These are the same materials we use with the social entrepreneurs in our accelerator program and the funders we coach one on one. The world has never been more in need of a new, greatest generation of change agents and that's why we're opening up free access to these materials to anyone who's ready to make use of them!