Willpower is NOT the Key to Changing Your Habits

This is what is…

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In my late teens, after dropping out of high school and getting discharged from the military, I answered an ad for a nannying position.

I was feeling defeated. I didn’t think I knew how to do much, but I knew how to take care of babies, practically parenting my younger siblings growing up.

Then I met the man I would marry. He was a contractor and who showed up one day at the home where I nannied, with the most gorgeous blue eyes and brightest smile I’d ever seen in my life. He whisked me away on his motorcycle. Then, ironically, he joined the military just weeks after we got married.

Talk about deep patterning.

At the time, I was convinced my past was behind me. I was married, then I was pregnant, and then I had my son. It looked like a normal life to me. For a while, I even felt like I’d won the lottery.

But patterning doesn’t just disappear if you don’t deal with it.

Things began to unravel. Cracks started to show. My past began showing up, and I didn’t want to deal with it. I thought that I’d married the wrong person—because, with the right person, my past would just dissolve, right?


But, that was the same pattern I’d observed in my own family.

What followed were some very tough, unhealthy, intense years. We fought viciously. We separated and got back together. We moved around the United States, but our dysfunction followed us because it always does. But I was willing myself to make it work.

I thought if I just had enough determination and enough willpower, I could force things to work out.

Many people think if they just possess the “willpower” to be disciplined, control their unresolved trauma and dysfunction, and deny themselves what they desire, they can change their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. But that’s just not how it works.

My marriage was never going to work because I hadn’t done my work. I just spent years burying our issues and repeating the unhealthy behaviors that had been patterned into me.

Here’s the secret: you’re never going to feel like it.

That career change you want to make? That fitness routine you want to start? That 5:00 a.m. meditation practice you know your day needs? That hall closet you’ve meant to clean out since 2014?

Guess what?


They’re things you know in your heart would be good for you; they’re all things you even want to do—at least, theoretically. But if you’re waiting to act until you feel like getting started, chances are you never will.

You’re never going to feel like doing all the healthy, habit-forming, life-changing things you know you need to do because you don’t yet hold the belief that drives the thought that creates the feeling of wanting to do something, which then inspires the behavior and makes a habit. And how do you wind up forming the belief that drives the thought that creates the feeling of wanting to do something, which then inspires the behavior of actually doing it?

By actually DOING IT.

When you’re operating from old patterns and belief systems, you’re just like an animal that won’t leave its cage even after the door has been opened—more comfortable to stay within the circle of the familiar than to take a risk.

Whether you’re changing your career or setting your alarm clock an hour earlier each morning, taking the leap only feels good once you’ve taken it. But you’re never going to feel good standing on the precipice of change because that’s where all the fear, doubt, and risk is. Once you take action, all of the forces of the universe come together on a metaphysical level to support you because you’ve committed to the energy of creating something new.

That’s how your life begins to change.

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