Or how to develop awesome habits
By Liam Mulyo
“Liam” is short for William, which some might abbreviate as “Will”. I have not done so since the unfortunate Halo Marathon in which, alas, Jump was playing, and during which someone used the phrase, “Fire at Will!”
Nevertheless, will is a wonderful thing to have (ladies…). Without will, you cannot create a successful business, learn a martial art, write a novel, or lose your Buddah-belly. Unfortunately, D&D got it wrong. Will is not a fixed stat. It is a depleting and replenishing resource pool, like hit points.
Here’s how to work with that.
Will is used for decisions.
Every time you make a decision, even as little as “black socks or white today,” a little of your will is used up. Conversely, when you can run on autopilot, your will is preserved. This is why people develop habits, and have a hard time breaking them. How to abuse this: Develop good habits. Avoid developing more than one at a time until you are sure you have the will to manage it. Streamline your life so that you have fewer decisions to make at a given time, allowing you to reserve your will for important stuff.
Will comes from energy.
I don’t mean, “use the force, Luke,” but something rather more pedestrian. Eating replenishes some will. Getting enough sleep refills your will meter. How to abuse this: Get enough sleep. If trying to develop a good habit, a small, sweet snack just before you are required to do whatever it is you’re supposed to do will help (unless your new habit will be avoiding small, sweet snacks).
Will increases with exercise.
This is the ridiculous one. The more you make yourself do things you don’t want to, even if they are dumb, the stronger your will becomes. You need to be careful exercising your will when trying to develop awesome habits — you don’t want to deplete too much lest you short-circuit your habit — but to a degree, it can be more efficient to spend a month or so actively exercising will instead of working on a habit. How to abuse this: Unlock and lock your front door with your eyes closed. Brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand. Join a martial arts studio where you will find yourself pushing through pain and tiredness just to avoid shaming yourself before badass warriors.
Developing awesome habits and killing bad ones.
Now you know what a habit is — your body and mind removing a choice from your daily life in order that your will might increase — you’ve got the basics of making some good changes. My recommendation is this: first develop a time to sleep and a time to rise. That’s your first habit. Do it, flawlessly, for a month. Then, maybe take a month to do will exercises, including kung fu. Then look at your life, decide on an order of importance, and deal with things in that order.
If you’ve got lots of will (and eventually, on this path), you may find yourself able to do two habits or more at once. If you’ve got will and to spare, you probably don’t need this paper.
One last quick tip: when you are doing your habit of the month, the way you phrase things makes a difference. Saying, for instance, “I can’t drink soda,” inspires feelings of resentment and loss, and eats at your resolve. Saying, contrawise, “I don’t drink soda,” inspires feelings of power and control, and shores up your resolve.
Just remember, will isn’t infinite. Shepherd it, grow it, and you can do almost anything. Don’t, and you won’t.