Will Power Doesn’t Always Make You Win

“Using will power to implement targets, is doing violence to yourself”.

First, when I heard this piece of wisdom, I was literally shocked. It said using the power of will in doing things, in achieving your goals is an act of violence on yourself.

And the person dishing out this shocker is the ‘Business Buddha’ and the ‘Happiness Guru’ in corporate circles in America, Prof B Srikumar Rao. He has been the leading MBA professor who taught students at Columbia Business School and at UC Berkeley.

His wisdom in saying will power is an act of violence for getting things done has deep meaning as I decoded it.

When we set targets in our personal and professional lives, we look at an outcome or a result and do work to get there. We work with a single eye focus to get the desired result. Sometime we hit the target but sometimes we don’t.

In using will power, we are fired by the vision and the intensity of desire and we push ourselves to get there. Experience says push theory is not long lasting. After all, how many times can you push yourself?

Banking on will power is not an all-weather winning formula.

I am not doubting anyone’s capacity to do so but there is a limit to everything. This means when you use your power on yourself and others you get to the goal many times and when you don’t, just settle for less or compromise. This means success is not long lasting and it is actually dependent on your will and you have no power without it.

A better route to achieving long lasting results is changing your identity. Fix goals as it gives direction to your life.

Common Approach Using Will Power

 If I want to lose weight, I might follow the common approach of working out at the gym, yoga or any other allied exercise. I would be pushing myself to workout everyday even if I don’t like to, so that I reach the desired weight. This is what most of us think and do.

Uncommon But Long-lasting Approach

 Turn this theory on its head and if I were to reach my goal of losing weight, I would follow a very long-lasting approach which is, changing my identity. Instead of keeping a target of losing weight, I would say and act as per “I am being healthy”. Being healthy means taking care of my health which includes not only daily workout but also healthy eating to have a healthy lifestyle”.

Most of the changes we try to make and habits we try to form don’t stick, because we try to force them into our life.

“The secret to hitting the bull’s eye is changing one’s behaviour”


Ever lasting changes happen through behavioural change. This change is promoted through good habits.

“Success is the result of daily habits-not once in a lifetime transformations”, says James Clear, a habit scientist and author of Atomic Habits.

Change through habits does not happen overnight. It takes consistency to stick on to your habits. When you plant a seed, it does not spring to life immediately, several weeks of daily watering , sunshine and compost makes it come alive one day. Till that one day you would tiny pieces of progress. Similar is the case with habits. One needs to stick on for long for behavioural change.

Difference Between Winners and Losers

Photo by Ian Stauffer on Unsplash

Winners and losers can have the same goals but what make one person win at the end is the system that he or she put in place to reach there. System refers to the process of doing things in following a goal.

The key to having the most out of this process is enjoying the system or the journey to the goal or destination. When one enjoys it, lives fully and feels it, the journey is worth it in every sense of the word even if one does not reach the goal.

Reaching the goal will give momentary happiness. If we keep our happiness bound to a goal, thinking we will be happy only when we reach at a certain level, we would always be chasing happiness.

Enjoying the system, being happy about it brings a sense of peace and mental well-being. You save yourself from the pressure of reaching the results. Reaching goal may be uncertain but what is certain is that you will grow, learn and be happy in the journey of life.

Designing the system

The system needs to be easy for you to stick to it. Let’s admit, if people have a choice, everyone wants it easy. No one likes to work hard on doing things. If things or the system is not convenient, it is easy to fall off the radar.

Photo by Isaac Wendland on Unsplash

 The more convenient the system is, the longer one will stick to it. For example, if I have a goal to run a marathon, then I have to start by walking daily. Start by a 10 min walk which wont bother anyone. After a week, raise it to 15, then 20 and 30 minutes and finally an hour. This sets the momentum as one builds the strength and system to get into the process of running once a week, then twice and subsequently you don’t walk anymore. I would run every day. That is how someone who has never run before, joins a marathon.

You want to cut down on your sweet’s intake, redesign your pantry or arrange your refrigerator so that you have to search hard to find a pack of candy or chocolates. Change the place where you shop your daily groceries. The newer the place is, the harder you have to look for your desired product.

Anything done by force never lasts long, whether it is on you or anyone else. Hence will-power is not the long-lasting approach to getting consistent results.

Listen To Your Heart

Whatever flows from heart, becomes smooth as we are led by it not forced by it. There is no resistance and the process is enjoyable. For example, if one is forced to take care of an ailing relative, because there is no choice one may resent it after some time of daily care. But if you love that relative really, you would do care happily because it flows from your heart.

Put in a system where you don’t punish but reward yourself for moving in the right direction. Do something that you love doing before venturing into a new domain so that you are aided with good vibes. For example listening to music which if you love doing, before you start writing your daily make to do list. These lists could be cumbersome and boring for many, so putting in place a system where you would not feel hassled but supported by your mood.

“Where there is will, there is a way”

I have always believed in this adage. Will power is a wonderful tool. I have used my will power unthinkable times to do and get things done. I m sure you would agree with this too. It is irrefutable.But it does not always guarantee success in hitting targets.

Will power rides on expectations and works on pressure. Anything that cooks on pressure loses its steam after some time. So let the fire in you not consume you, for every minute of life is precious. Find out a kinder and loving version to getting things done. Life would be much more enjoyable and meaningful.