T Nation

How Bad Do You Want It?


This is something I've been doing a lot of thinking about the past year. Some people seem to always be able to find ways to dedicate themselves to every task they do even if they don't want to do it. I've always been one of these people. I still remember my basketball coach yelling "How bad do you want it?!?" during conditioning drills.

If I have a test coming up, I force myself to study. I want to gain weight so I take time to prepare meals and lift. I stop drinking after I hit drunk, not after I throw up. I have goals and I want to reach them so it never really crosses my mind to not do those things. I give up a little in the present to get a lot in the future, easy decision in my opinion. After talking with others it seems this isn't common?

A friend of mine mentioned to me he doesn't know how I do it. He asked if willpower is something I was born with or if I felt it was something I developed over time. I was unsure at first. Like I said as long as I can remember I've been this way. But I honestly feel it is developed. It comes down to how bad you want something and doing everything you can do get it. Over time this becomes a habit and that willpower becomes more and more a part of you.

Basically this thread was made because I want more peoples input about willpower. It's amazing how much you can accomplish once you want something bad enough. Why are some people able to develop willpower while others never do? How do people develop willpower?

In your opinion is it easy to lose willpower? How much do other people effect willpower? What even causes willpower to be developed in the first place? Something so effective is so lacking in many people it seems.


Your title answers your question. How bad do you want it.

I have plenty of "willpower" when I want something bad enough.

OR, DONT Want something bad enough.

Probably most people are the same... if they're not doing what it takes to achieve or avoid something they just dont really want that accomplishment bad enough.


Beauty and wisdom. Hallowed is right, if you really want something your willing to make the sacrifices to achieve it. I remember seeing this video a long time ago and loved it. Watch it from time to time just to keep motivated.


At this point in life, I think it is innate. I don't know many people who were sitting on their ass before but suddenly became hard workers and overachievers. People like that are generally like that from the start. Seeing as MOST people would fall under "average", the ones really pushing have to expect to be the minority.

I don't even know if it is about just wanting something bad enough...because I know many people who want something badly but still won't change their lives around to get it. They fall into a cycle of procrastination and failure.

To want something badly AND to have the drive to push until you get it is extremely rare from what I've seen.

I mean, even with this thread. I am sure many people will talk a good game...but how many are really stand out players in their community, education or career path?


How bad do you want it is key. The person needs to have an understanding of why they want something.

Losing 20 lbs to look good in a bathing suit isn't really a big driving force for most, some, not most. Being able to lose 20 lbs to see your kid get married or see your grandchildren can be a big "why".

I'd love a million dollars, but I'm not willing to put in 100 hr work weeks and give up my free time for it. There's always give and take.

Also comes down to having a plan and doing it correctly.


I would still argue that they don't want it enough. For instance take someone who's working at a job they dislike but they've been there for along time. It's not that they don't want to leave but they are comfortable and afraid to take the risk to get another job, risk pay cuts, have to learn things all over again. They begin to think that their current job isn't so bad and they'll just stay there. Complacency is a horrible thing but it's an easy trap to fall into.

I agree with you entirly though that most people will talk big yet most won't achieve what they say they are working so hard for.


This is like the "swim back" from Gattaca. Not saving anything for the return. Giving it your all.

For me there is an order of priority.
Right now, it's my health>education>work>socializing. Health will always be first for me, I've seen too many people old and young be hindered from their lack of health, or like someone said in another thread about deathbed words of wisdom, "No one wishes they put in more overtime when they're on their way out"(or something like that).

I started something with a few of my friends, and my brother to get them to quit smoking, maybe I'm just a conman, but it was a $500 bet, they get their health and moneys saved from quitting smoking for quitting forever, or they lose the bet, start smoking again, and I get $500. So far my brother has been the only one to see it through(4 out of 5 have failed). Just different priorities, most people don't have a longview in life.

Willpower is a habit that is developed from childhood. I grew up playing sports, and trying to be the best at whatever it was even though sometimes I was outmatched physically, but then you have to use your head and play smarter than the next guy.

Nowadays, you can see the lack of willpower in all the tubby lard-asses waddling around everywhere. Overindulgence, whether it be food, drugs(including alcohol and cigarettes), new toys(vehicles, gadgets), sex, ??????, you name it are signs that someone isn't complete with themselves. They require these crutches to either fulfill parts of them that are missing/not developed or b/c they're not in control of/unhappy with their lives.


Simple, not easy.


Sometimes things like this aren't the way they seem.

I could wax heroic with stories of myself and others, the drive to succeed, overcoming obstacles in life, and la de da, but really, some stuff just has to be lived and learned.

Only thing I would caution against is trying to judge who has what and how much. Life isn't done with any of us yet.


The way you describe this it boils down to one thing: ego. Some people have managed to convince themselves at some point in their life (not important when) that their identity belongs to the future. When you've convinced yourself that your identity is in whatever you are working towards, its easy to dig up the "willpower" you need to put forth the stress and effort so you can strive towards the always on the horizon future. To do anything less would be to face the equivalent of mental self-annihilation.

Possessing willpower of that sort is hardly more admirable and leads to no more happiness the lazy person who makes a habit of sitting around in a mild depression, recounting his or her old glory days of things that once happened to him or flipping through her photo albums on Facebook. These people have accomplished the exact opposite but equally dysfunctional phenomenon as the over-achievers.. they have no willpower simply because they base their identity off the past, off of events which are remembered now and can no longer be experienced presently. Though completely different in appearance, being ambitious and being lazy are two sides of the same coin.

Anyone can correct this when they make the realization that you will never find yourself in the past of the future, and the only thing we ever experience happens in the present. When you can do a task without trying to seek your identity through it, it becomes simple, effortless doing.

To often striving towards a goal becomes something of strain and effort, at the end of the road you will never find what you are looking for. What you need today will never come tomorrow. Anyone on this board who has been lifting for awhile knows of the all too familiar experience that it's never enough, where by the time you reach your goal a new one has already replaced it.

I've certainly been guilty of this in the past, and since I have come to realize this I get done much more without the stress that was previously associated with working hard towards a goal and without requiring "willpower", which really is a thinly-veiled compulsory mindset.

I would agree with SkyzykS that none of our struggles or wants are all that important. Shit happens, and if you are on auto-accomplish overdrive when it does, you aren't likely to handle it well.


Another point at which most people fail is proper planning. Failing to plan is planning to fail. Any "long term" goal, be it physical, career, new skill-set, etc... requires a plan. It requires a CLEAR vision of what you want. Once you have that, you simply figure out how to get there.

"I wanna get big and swole" is a hell of a different goal than "I will add fifteen pounds of lean muscle mass by eating XXX a day and doing 5/3/1 for a year".

"I wanna get rich" is FAR different from "I will make TEN calls a day to my referral partners and strategic alliances" (knowing that ten calls a day yields twenty applications a month which yields five closed deals per month with an average of two points on a 350K loan amount which equals ~35K in gross commissions)

"I wanna kick ass in billiards" is different than "I will practice shooting 100 long shots a day for one month and then focus on bank shots next month"

CLEARLY DEFINED goals is what will make it happen. Clearly defined can mean different things to different people. I personally have a "dream board". I have a physical representation of what I want to achieve in front of me. Every time I look up, there it is. I also have a separate spreadsheet with a plan for EACH goal.

I schedule a WHOLE DAY every week to examine my progress, make sure I'm on track, and adjust my goals, my plan or my tactics/strategy as necessary. Once a month, I have a skype conference call with my "mastermind group" (a group of friends and mentors) to be held accountable for what I said I would achieve that month.

Accountability and getting leverage on yourself is very important. Personally, I am a very "pleasure seeking" person. I HATE to do tedious and boring "work". So I set up accountability systems to punish myself when I fall short and rewards for when I meet my goal perfectly. The "budget" for each is the same - $XXX.00 to my friend when I fuck up and $XXX.00 to party my ass off with hookers and cocaine (I kid) when I succeed. I also have no problem paying other people to do work I don't enjoy doing. I focus on selling and I have a partner who focuses on the details and structuring and compliance and the THOUSANDS of details that I really don't enjoy keeping track of.

With the above "system" I've been able to get a lot done with my career in a relatively short amount of time. Of course, it helps that I'm in an industry that offers commission and not a straight salary, but the greater the risk, the greater the reward. Some people aren't comfortable with that kind of risk. Or it would be irresponsible for them to switch to a high risk career if they are supporting a family - the learning curve would be too steep and the possibility of failure unacceptable.

But if I can go from being a felon with out a HS diploma, working blue collar for a decade after prison and make a career change that LITERALLY added a "zero" my income, why can't other people do it?

I have a friend who moved here LESS than ten years ago from Peru with NOTHING, he opened a painting business and bought a few properties, flipped them, reinvested and rented them out and now has a crew of guys working for him and a net worth of over three million... WHY can't people who are BORN here do that?

Because MOST people are afraid to think BIG and figure out how to make their dreams come true... They are afraid to get outside of their comfort zone... They are afraid to "fail" (or they are afraid of being JUDGED for "failing")... So they just... don't...

Learning a SYSTEM of goal setting and proper planning is probably the most valuable skill a person can possess. Good thread idea, OP.

my .02


What does that have to do with everything else you said?




This is a great post, Thanks.


^^^^^^^^ this stuff shouldn't be free.


I don't agree at all with the "some people have "it" some people don't quote. If somebody threatens to kill your family and chop off your balls unless you start a successful business in a year... YOU WILL DO IT!!! everybody has it in them.


Everything AC mentioned is in many "success" books and should be required reading for everyone in this country


What angry chicken is very true. I have my notebooks where I write down goals and stuff. It really, really helps to see your own writing there stating goals, how to achieve them, etc.

About willpower and getting things done, I don't know how it is for the rest, but I'm kinda a "minimalist". I don't like many things, I don't have many passions, I'm extremely picky about anything I do or with who I do what, but if I like something, I really like it and I give all to enjoy it. This includes goals.

I know where I want to be at the end of the year weight-wise and there's no excuses. I haven't missed a single meal for months and I have never felt lazy to cook or eat or whatever. I have a goal, I have a passion, I do what it takes.

I'm also not afraid of "sacrificing" stuff in order to get closer to my goals and people around me just don't understand it.

I've always been like this, so I guess it's innate for me. But if I don't like doing something, I have a very hard time getting motivated to do it unless there's pride and ego involved.


To me, will power in-itself is not sufficient. In much the same way love in-itself is not sufficient to sustain a healthy, loving relationship (with oneself or anyone else for that matter).

Structure is often needed both to initiate solid habits & to sustain them.

Will power, may well be a capacity which some are born with to a greater degree than others, though, it can in many cases build quite dramatically over time (providing the neccessary structure & motivation is in place).

That + mentally framing everything as a competition with yourself is key.


Hell we'd be in a lot better shape as a country even if some sort of "personal finance" class were mandatory. What's more important today: reading The Great Gatsby? or understanding how to balance your check book?

Or understanding credit and how to build it? The "magic" of compound interest and the rule of 72? What is an APR? Inflation? The REALITY of retirement and the insolvency of the entitlements? That should scare ANYONE with a brain into saving!

I learned about how to save and compound interest while in PRISON! You figure they MIGHT want to teach that shit in HS! LOL

Thanks for the kind words guys.