Decision Vs Willpower: Which Is More Important?

Pick up a weight; a book, or bottle of water – and raise it over your head. Repeat it twice more. Not so bad, right?

Now hold it over your head for 2 minutes. That’s quite a bit more challenging and uncomfortable. I’m pretty sure you won’t do it.

How do ‘Decision’ and ‘Willpower’ come in here?

The first activity requires making a decision. The second requires willpower as your arm starts to get tired.

When you think about changing your drinking, you’re probably thinking of having to come up with the same sort of continuous willpower that it takes to hold the thing overhead. It’s no wonder you aren’t doing it.

Instead, I want to suggest that you approach it by doing ‘reps’, as in the first example.

Practice making decisions like these:

  • Delay the first drink for 10 minutes
  • Pause between drinks for 15 minutes, even if the bartender already poured the 2nd one
  • Say no to what would be the last drink of the evening

I recommend that you expand this ‘decision reps’ practice to other things. You’re confronted every day with dozens of little possibilities to decide to do the ‘hard’ thing.

  • Turn the shower to cold for 10 seconds
  • Stand in a line without looking at your phone
  • Don’t get that second helping of potatoes

The point is not to do these things because they’re good for you. The point is to practice making little decisions and getting comfortable with the mini-discomfort they create. The randomness of it is useful as well.

You’re not striving for perfection or consistency, rather just grabbing little opportunities as they arise. You start to see that even imperfect action creates benefit. You create evidence for yourself that you’re a decisive person who can control yourself.

The more I do this in my life, the more tough and resilient I get; and I feel freer and in control.

The Second Dimension That’s Life-Changing

There’s a second dimension to this that makes it life-changing. For those drinking decisions, pay attention in that space where you’re depriving yourself for a few minutes.

What thoughts are coming up? What sensations are there in your body? What emotions?

This deeper awareness of your internal state is the stuff that’s the real focus of my coaching. It’s what makes my system different from the advice you’ve heard which focuses on action-oriented advice – do this, don’t do that, but doesn’t give you any insight.

This is where you discover WHY you drink. When you know that ‘why’, it’s easy to come up with compelling counterarguments to it.

Do You Need Continuous Willpower To Control Your Drinking?

Over time, the result of this process is that you don’t need continuous willpower to control your drinking. You get good at making decisions and you change the underlying psychology that drives you to drink against your will. It becomes easy to drink moderately.


For now, don’t worry about the insight stuff. Just decide to start today with imperfect action, making little uncomfortable decisions, and see what comes up when you do.

If you don’t try this advice out TODAY, ask yourself – why the hell not?

Here, I’ll make it easy for you with multiple choices:

  1. It’s too simple.
  2. It’s too complicated.
  3. I already know this.
  4. I never heard of this before.
  5. Nothing will work for me.
  6. I’m afraid to try and fail.
  7. I’m afraid to try and succeed.
  8. It will take too long.
  9. This is stupid.
  10. This guy Greg is stupid.
  11. Where’s the science to back it up.
  12. Interesting, I’ll start tomorrow.

What’s your excuse?

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