It was a few days ago, summer heat in full force, lackluster diet for the day and I hadn’t come close to drinking enough water. I was 1 mile in to my 3-mile run and I felt like sludge! This particular summer day I happened to bring my 10 month old along in the jogging stroller, making it that much more difficult. As I argue with myself over walking at the next stop sign or the next tree or any nearby object really, my young daughter started babbling. In that VERY moment, I decided that I wasn’t going to walk. In fact, I was going to push harder to that nearby object. No, her cute babbles didn’t make me miraculously feel better…but she did give me a gentle reminder.
This girl…This mom…This wife…This leader…ME…I have great willpower!
For as long as I can remember my will has been strong. After years of gymnastics, I still vividly remember doing countless chin-up’s from the chin-up bar installed in my bedroom doorway. The smell of fresh cut grass and fresh black tar reminds me of running endless miles for track and cross-country. At 15 I was waking up at 4:30am to go to work on the weekends so I could pay for my car. College was fun, but I had to manage my time with two jobs (sometimes three), sports, and academics. I have had to choose between my social life and work – often. I’ve been a single mom, built a great career, and now run a business. I share all of this because it wasn’t and isn’t easy. It IS hard. Sometimes, REALLY hard. But I am thankful.
willpower :: noun :: will·pow·er
the ability to control yourself : strong determination that allows you to do something difficult
As my daughters grow, I am starting to witness glimpses of myself in them. I am learning that my actions will speak far louder than any words I ever speak. If I don’t demonstrate a strong sense of willpower, not only am I just holding myself back…I am holding them back! Gulp. Demonstrating willpower in the small things will set an example – things like making my bed each morning or tidying up the house each night. And the more difficult things like choosing healthy food over junk food consistently is my chance to show strength, character and strong resolve to my family. Then the really hard things like running in races, running a business and building a career also are consistent demonstrations of the positive power of WILL. They will all add up over time!
We’ve all witnessed our children doing something difficult or challenging. For our children, there is one thing we expect of them – don’t quit. They may not get it right, they may not win, they may not do it exceptionally…but if they DO… NOT… GIVE… UP. they have succeed in our eyes.
As I reflect on my willpower and my desire for my children to have an even greater strength of will, I think about the three things my husband and I do to teach through our actions.
1. We share goals with our children – they hold us accountable!
Our children look up to us and are very interested in what we do. Write your goals down. Share them with your children and track them on a ‘public’ calendar! I promise they will help you or challenge you to reach them! Another plus is that we don’t want to tell our children one thing and do another. Knowing they are watching, it’s easier to say no or “just do” whatever it is that you are setting out to do! If you need a little inspiration this poem will do just the trick!
2. Say No.
We say no – a lot. It would be much easier to “cave in” and say yes and move on with our lives (especially with 4 little girls whining), but what good does that do long term? We talk about wants vs. needs when it comes to tangible items. When it comes to tasks, we insist they try it first and if we “must” step in, we will. Saying no conditions them to understand not everything is ‘just there’ to be had and that sometimes we don’t get what we want. The word NO also shows them that some things will be hard and they will have to find a way.
3. Set Goals. Make them difficult to acheive.
My husband is phenomenal at this. I’ve never witnessed a more consistent human on this earth. If he says he is going to do something, he will do it. I too, set goals…but am a little more sporadic in attending to all of them. It definitely helps to have him lead us with goal setting. But we talk regularly about what the girls goals are or something they can set out to accomplish. We don’t just talk about them, we write them down, pin them up, track them, and we celebrate tiny wins along the way. They may never reach their goal…and that’s okay. If your goals are hard, then you will experience failure. Failure teaches you willpower. Willpower will always win and when you win, it will be THAT. MUCH. BETTER.
Although these 3 things are just a glimpse of how we run our household and just a portion of their influence, I strongly believe that we are consciously leading the way and that will lead to positive things in their lives. As the quote reads above, “Willpower is like a muscle. The more you train it, the stronger it gets.” We choose to use willpower in our every day lives to demonstrate what we are capable of doing. In doing so, we are teaching through our actions which will resonate far greater than any words we will ever speak. It’s okay to fail and have our children see us fail, but when we can will our way to success…it sends a powerful message!
What is YOUR willpower teaching your children? Do you have any tips on how we can all influence more willpower in our lives and our children’s?