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What is Willpower?


Techniques Willpower > What is Willpower?

Will | Willpower | See also


What is will? What is willpower? To be able to manage it, you must first understand what the word means.


'Will' is the ability to make conscious choice. We all have free will and make our own choices, even if these are to obey the commands of others.

Flowers do not have will. Animals have a degree of will. Humans have more, simply because they are better at thinking and can make informed choices.

When something can be done 'at will' means one can act at any time of choosing without hindrance. Greater will is needed when there are obstructions.

A person may be described as 'wilful' if they do not easily submit to the requests or commands of others. They do what they like, breaking rules and laws without concern for what others may think (other, perhaps, than to delight in the sense of control this brings).

Will is related to desire. If you do not want something very much, then the will to succeed is likely to be weak. This is reflected in the saying 'A faint heart never won a fair lady.' On the other hand if you have a strong desire, then you will be more likely to persist. Another saying is 'Where there's a will, there's a way.'

Exertion of will as self-control may be viewed as a conflict of desires, for example where we both want to get angry and know that we should not. From a psychoanalytic position this looks like a conflict between id and superego.

There is a scientific argument that our unconscious mind is actually in charge and that conscious thought is just the perceived surface of the total unconscious. Whether this is true or not, we still have what we call choice. The alternative is to be fatalistic and be blown by the winds of the world.


Willpower is the motivation to exercise will. A person with strong willpower will assert decisions even in the face of strong opposition or other contradictory indicators. A person with little willpower will give in easily.

Getting what you want takes willpower, whether it means you doing something or others doing things for you. To succeed, this means first you must know what you want. Then you must be determined to get it, even in the face of extreme difficulties.

Will and power are closely related, as using will is exercising power. Powerful people often exercise what seems to be a strong will, although this often comes from the confidence that having power creates rather than directly from having the power. In a reversal, people who have strong a strong increase their power as a result.

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