Oh, to have willpower

A book sits on the corner of my desk poking at me, calling me names, just generally annoying me.
It’s title is “The Willpower Instinct,” written by Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D. Kelly, if I may call her that, not because I know her personally but it seems more friendly than Dr. McGonigal, and Dr. McGonigal sounds a bit pretentious.
Let me begin again. Kelly has some credits behind her, as she teaches a widely-acclaimed course called “The Science of Willpower” at Stanford University in California—and Stanford is considered by many to be one of the most prestigious universities in the world, though I can’t confirm who actually gave it such a renowned standing.
I’m guessing Kelly knows what she is talking about and has figured out how to help people with their quest for self-control.
It’s not so much that this book sits on my desk tormenting me; it is the fact that though this work of non-fiction was gifted to me many months ago by a very dear friend, I’ve only managed to read to about page seven and therein lies the irony.
Willpower, procrastination, stick-to-it-ness. Is the picture any clearer?
I was cleaning my office one evening last week—a job that got bigger with each corner I turned my attention to. It’s a bit of a dog’s breakfast in here, like some discount furniture store backed up to the door of my office and dumped all the crap (I’m sorry, there’s just no better way to say it) that no one wanted.
It’s like I shopped at a dorm room sell-off. How am I expected to write genius in here? That’s another rant for another day.
While cleaning, I had to count and stack the many writing journals I have purchased, a habit for which there is (and if not, there certainly should be) a support group to help kick it.
I opened three or four of these journals and was dismayed to see what I had written on the page or pages some time ago with obvious good intentions that, I sadly confess, came to an early demise.
I recorded things such as what I spent money on to obviously get a handle on my spending, and to perhaps determine where my vast fortune has slipped away to.
I’ve a pretty good idea that the shortbread industry has done well by me, and I alone am probably keeping the book publishing industry fluid. I found pages that recorded my daily water intake in an effort to keep my body hydrated and in one of the bazillion ways I have tried (with little success, and probably even less effort) to combat the daily occurrence of headaches.
Another journal kept track of the kilometres I walked or ran every day when I had my attack of the urge for fitness that comes and goes like the phases of the moon.
Another had a list of writing topics, and I was quite happy to find that particular list and moved it the front of the pile. I didn’t look any further. It was too disheartening.
The truth was all too clear. Each of these journals with such grand notions of doing things better, complete with written proof of my commitment, lasted shockingly less than a week on all counts. My willpower could be measured in hours it seems, not even days and certainly not in weeks.
How tragic.
So, I think Kelly and I had better spend some time together and see if she can’t whip me into shape. I hope there’s still time, because it is the Christmas season and there always is an abundance of journals on the store shelves that just scream at me to buy.
Just the other day, I bought three such journals—for gifts, of course—though every time I try to wrap them, I suddenly feel the need to have a drink of water or a nap, or to go for a five-km run.
I fear these journals may never leave my home. Kelly, help me!
Perhaps as a brand new year looms closer, I shall plan for willpower. Achieving willpower would be like asking the genie for just one wish instead of three.
I wish my wishes were unlimited. It sounds like cheating, but I think I could make it work.
Good luck with your willpower, if you happen to need it.
wendistewart@live.ca

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