Many people think that changing their behavior to live a healthier lifestyle takes lots of willpower. But they’re only half right. Willpower is what gets us started, but habit or a new term I like “skillpower,” is what keeps you going.
Willpower is the internal motivation we have that inspires and helps us make a change, like eating more vegetables, sitting less, or making meal plans. Without willpower, we’d all likely just think how nice it would be to do those things, but never actually follow through. So willpower is awesome for taking the first steps towards changing our habits.
But willpower runs out eventually. To keep up behavior changes over the long term, eventually it needs to switch from being a conscious effort (willpower) to an automatic habit (skillpower).
Skillpower is built when we’ve:
- Practiced the behavior enough to feel confident in performing it
- Incorporated the behavior into our daily routine
- Planned how to maintain the behavior when life gets in the way
- Started to see and feel the positive effects of the behavior.
Think about a recent change you’ve been thinking about or starting to make. At this point, you’re working on willpower. Now think about a healthy habit you do daily. This is working on skillpower.
- How are they different?
- What are you thinking when you are making a change using willpower? What about when you’re using skillpower?
- Can you remember when your habit evolved from willpower into skillpower?
For me, prepping my breakfast and lunch for the week has become a habit. I can rely on my skillpower to help me make sure that I have a healthy breakfast and lunch to bring to work with me every day. I try to prep everything on Sunday’s, but I’m still able to maintain my habit if I run out hardboiled eggs (my favorite breakfast food) in the middle of the week or don’t go grocery shopping until after work on Monday instead of Sunday afternoon. My skillpower helps me adjust instead of letting it fall to the wayside.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Share a habit you’ve made or are still working on with us in the comments.