Most people associate will power with dieting and whether or not they will be able to display the type of self-discipline needed to forego that really luscious looking dessert that is sitting in front of them.
Will power is also an important element of your own financial health.
Over the years, we’ve talked about budgeting and the key pieces of a viable and personalized budget. As you undoubtedly already know, the best-laid plans can become useless in a hurry if you do not or cannot go out and execute the plan. Whether you are dieting or budgeting, the quickest way to get derailed from achieving your goals is for you to not exercise enough will power.
Will power seems to always be presented as something that is elusive and hard to master over a long period of time, when in fact it is one of the few things you can totally control.
All kinds of things can and do go wrong once you have established a budget and are attempting to work within it. Despite your best efforts to project all of your costs, unexpected expenses always pop up and no matter how much you would like to be able to count on your income always being there, for most of us it is not promised beyond that which we have already earned.
On the contrary, your will power is merely an extension of your own decision-making. You are the only one who will decide whether or not you are going to chow down on or pass up dessert. You are the only one who will decide whether or not you are going to splurge on a car, a dress, or the newest electronics or put the money back in your pocket.
So exercising will power should be simple, right? If it were, we would all be at our ideal weight and have enough money to live comfortably and not be worried about the unexpected. Additionally, all the countries of the world would have balanced budgets and have no interest in expanding their geographical or political territories. There probably wouldn’t be any trade deficits and prices would be right for just about everybody because overall supply and demand would be pretty equal.
With all of the examples of a lack of individual or collective will power surrounding us, no wonder it feels as though it is something much more complex and hard to attain. The question really should be, if you are someone who has not done the greatest job of managing yourself, how could you get better at it?
The simple explanation is that the result of the action that you take or don’t take has to mean more to you than the result of doing the opposite. In other words, maintaining your weight and working toward a healthier lifestyle has to mean more to you than the short term pleasure you may experience in whatever indulgence you are considering. Saving a few more dollars has to be more valuable to you than whatever you were going to purchase in lieu of saving or staying within your means.
Anytime you demonstrate inner strength, you run the risk of putting yourself at odds with your peer group or your neighbors or your co-workers. You can count on there being a reason that it takes power to stay true to your own will or to follow a path that you have carefully planned. You will need every ounce of your will power to stand up to the many obstacles that will stand between you and your desired goal.
Exercising your will power is made much easier when you know the reason why you are having to exercise it in the first place and you will be in a much better position to understand the reasons why you have a goal or a limit if you have taken the time to organize your priorities and clearly understand the people and the things that are most important to you.
You will immediately realize some benefits the moment you prove to yourself that your own will power is sufficient enough to help you reach your goals. The first being that it only takes one successful will power moment to make the next one easier. Before you know it, using your will power will become a habit.
Another benefit to exercising your own will power is that if you do it successfully and early on, you will create some flexibility for yourself down the road. Deciding to save instead of spend, for example, creates or adds to your funds on hand. When you’ve reached your goal, allow yourself to splurge or to go back to something that you passed on initially, but now have the ability to buy more comfortably. In this case, you will literally have your cake and eat it too because you will have met your savings needs and bought something that you really wanted.
If you consider what might also be achievable simply by exercising your own will power, you may even begin to see limitless potential in places that you used to feel restricted or trapped. You may determine that goals that you used to think were beyond your grasp are now achievable.
Will power is not only what helps you to diet and budget; it is what sets you apart from others. The strength of your will power is what will determine if you have what it takes to live a fulfilling life and to be in charge of your own destiny. It is unique to you and it is what gets you up in the morning and keeps you moving throughout the day and the second you start exercising it with regularity is the second that you will become more powerful than you ever realized.
Chief Executive Officer
Chicago Patrolmen’s Federal Credit Union
Don’t forget, members of the Credit Union enjoy free and confidential Credit Counseling and Financial Planning through our Financial Planning and Education Center. We are here to assist you every step of the way.