If you have been watching the Australian Open, you may have asked yourself:
“How do young individuals like Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka push themselves rally after rally and match after match to perform at such an exceptional level?”
What makes them so exceptional?
- Are they simply more gifted than everyone else?
- Did they start playing tennis at a younger age?
- Or do they train harder than all their competitors?
All these answers bare some truth, but there are hundreds of other professionals who are just as talented, started playing tennis at an early age and train just as hard as Novak and Naomi.
So there must be another superpower that defines these world-class performers.
To understand what this is, let me first take you back in time, to the late 1960s, when Walter Mischel at Stanford University made the following proposition to five-year-old kids:
“We’ll give you a marshmallow now, or, if you can resist eating it for 15 minutes, you’ll get two instead.”
It is pretty entertaining to watch how the kids responded to this offer, and see the different strategies they use to keep themselves distracted from giving in to their instant urges.
But here is the thing:
Only around a third of the children actually succeeded to wait for fifteen minutes- all the others couldn’t resist eating their marshmallow.
The researchers then tracked all the participants of this experiment for the next 40 years.
Here is what they found:
The kids that were able to regulate their emotions and delay gratification, earned more money, enjoyed better health, experienced more loving relationships, were happier and less likely to fall prey to addictions.
The ability to delay gratification is the real secret to living a better life.
I know this does not sound very sexy:
Afterall, we hear promises of quick fixes and fast solutions wherever we go.
But the ability to push themselves day in and day out is what separates world-class athletes, top entrepreneurs and other leaders from everyone else.
This is what allows a tennis player to push their limits in practice and in matches.
And it is the one superpower that could help anyone of us to move towards our big dreams quicker than ever before.
I can imagine that the marshmallow test might worry you:
But I have good news!
if you think you would have probably failed the marshmallow test as a kid, not all hope is lost.
This is because willpower is a learnable skill that works a bit like any other physical muscle:
It gets bigger with training.
So if you are serious about amplifying the quality of your life, you need to work on this one “muscle” more than anything else, and here is the simplest way you start your training immediately:
Make the following bold commitment for the remainder of 2019 right now:
“From February, I will pick one new habit every single month and incorporate it into your life ( at least for 30 days).”
This might sound challenging at first, but a bit of resistance is a good thing- it’s the foundation of your “willpower training”.
And here is the best part:
You will experience two major benefits:
First, introducing success habits over time have the potential to upgrade all the key areas of your life.
As habits expert James Clear said:
“Habits are the compound interest of personal development.”
At the same time, the habit of building new habits is the best willpower gym you could think of. Gradually, you will be able to incorporate bolder habits into your life. This means it will become easier for you to overcome the resistance of short term gratification, meaning you will also be able to go for bigger and bolder new habits.
Combined, these two benefits have the power to literally transform your life. They will also make you mentally tougher than ever.
So why lose any more time?
If you are serious about your personal development, I’d like you to choose one new habit right now that you know can shift a key area in your life, especially if you follow through with it for the next 12 months.
Ideally, this will be something that will push you outside your comfort zone a bit, without making you feel overwhelmed.
Next, I want you to plan in as much detail as possible how you want to incorporate it into your life, starting this Friday and throughout February.
To get you thinking, here some random examples:
For the entire month of February:
- I will write blog content for my blog every weekday for an hour between 9-10am in my office.
- I will work out from 2-3pm, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with a personal trainer with the goal of losing weight.
- I will stop eating meat for the entire month and will order all the groceries I need, every Monday.
Finally, I also want you to think of a way to reward yourself after completing your new habit. For instance, to celebrate completing my workouts, I treat myself with a short session. So instead of dreading the gym, I actually look forward going.
So how will you celebrate?
So to sum up:
Pick your habit for February and define when, where and how you will do it. Also, think of a way you will reward yourself each time you complete your new habit.
Then, to enhance your commitment, please share your answers with me in the comment section below!