By Claire West

We promise ourselves we’ll make more prospecting calls, we won’t take work home with us or we’ll sort out that mound of paperwork — but despite our best intentions it often doesn’t happen.

We make excuses about lack of time or other priorities, but really it’s about lacking the will power to stick to our goals and make them a reality.

So if our will power is poor, how do we boost it and stick to the promises we make ourselves, in order to build our business and have a great work-life balance?

According to chartered psychologist Graham W Price it’s about finding the right motivation, developing self control and becoming resilient. All of these are attributes that can be acquired.

Motivation comes from being clear about your values and the benefits of achieving your goal. For example sticking to your plan to make more prospecting calls has benefits around increased income and reduced financial stress. Not taking work home allows more time with the family, an earlier night, a better work-life balance etc.

Graham uses visualisation and time-line techniques as a way to help clients “experience” these benefits and give them the motivation they need. “There is no point promising yourself you will do something unless you are really motivated to achieve it. Without the right motivation failure is almost guaranteed.” he explains.

After motivation you need self control. Motivation isn’t enough to get us through the challenging times. For example, we start our prospecting calls but get three rejections in a row, or we’re at home for the evening and the Blackberry bleeps with a distracting email. Helpful tools to enhance self-control include how to deal with ‘trigger points’ (predictable challenging situations), spotting and stopping ‘when-then games’ (when I feel more motivated, then I’ll make the calls), ‘acting as if’ (asking what Donald Trump would be doing right now if he was running my business, then doing it), ‘taking bold action’ and making commitments.

The third attribute that’s needed is resilience. This is the ability to deal productively with uncomfortable experiences. The most powerful tool to boost resilience is learning to ‘accept what is’. This means an ability to accept what’s happening right now, different from the usual meaning of ‘acceptance’ which is future-oriented and is generally viewed as weak, unless we’re only accepting things we cannot change.

An example of ‘accepting what is’ is accepting who we are right now, at the same time as choosing to change it. “Being unhappy about how we are, which is an example of ‘resisting what is’ might be thought to be motivating. In fact it’s generally de-motivating and debilitating and is nearly always unhelpful. Knowing who we want to be, being clear on the benefits of change and being confident that we can achieve it are generally much more effective motivators.” says Graham.

Another example of ‘accepting what is’, is learning to accept our uncomfortable feelings. Feelings such as anxiety, boredom and feeling low or unmotivated can limit us if we allow them to determine our behaviour. Filling our time with unimportant tasks, procrastinating or simply “faffing” around are classic examples of using easy distractions in response to uncomfortable feelings. To successfully achieve the goals we set ourselves we need to learn more productive ways to deal with these feelings — and that starts with learning how to accept them. This means accepting it’s OK to have them right now, not accepting that it’s OK for them to remain.

“In my experience with my clients, accepting uncomfortable feelings is one of the most powerful psychological tools anyone can learn. Acceptance nearly always immediately diminishes those feelings but, more importantly, it allows us to act in ways not determined by our feelings.” says Graham. We can ‘accept the feeling, choose the action’. And acting in ways opposite to whatever any uncomfortable feelings are telling us to do not only enables us to take powerful action despite what we’re feeling, it resolves the feelings by unwinding the unconscious programming that’s driving them.

It’s this technique of acceptance that gives us the resilience to maintain the behaviours that will help us achieve our goals.

Utilising the tools of motivation, self control and resilience will enable anyone to achieve their business goals. These tools will give your will power the strength to beat any opponent — including yourself!