In this week’s episode we take a slight detour from our usual programming of trading topics and instead explore the topic of Willpower with Colin Robertson.
Colin’s a willpower researcher, founder of a blog called willpowered.co, and if you’re interested in the topic of willpower then I think this episode will give you some real practical insights on the subject.
One of the often cited studies we discuss on the show is the infamous marshmallow test which showed that young children who were able to delay gratification later grew up to become more successful and happier adults.
So the big question is whether willpower is something we’re born with or can it be developed?
The good news is that willpower can be strengthened like a muscle and we can increase our willpower if we commit to training our brain to be able to exert more willpower regularly.
Meditation has been shown to be one of the most powerful ways to increase willpower.
Research on this subject indicates that three hours of meditation increases self-control and ability to focus and after eleven hours of mediation practice one can see visible changes in the brains.
If you’re curious about meditation then check out our 28 Day Mindfulness for Traders Challenge.
It’s a guided meditation program specifically for traders. Dozens of traders have now gone through the challenge and many traders have noted improved levels of concentration and memory, increased energy and stamina, and reduced stress and anxiety.
Here’s what you’ll hear on this episode:
- the nuance between the various forms of will power
- I Will / I Won’t / I Want
- how willpower applies to your trading
- how to quickly boost up your willpower
- how to deal with temptations
- and some ideas on how to strengthen and develop your own willpower.
[4:20] Hello Colin, welcome to the show today.
[04:23] Colin: Great to be here Houston.
[04:24] Houston: Absolutely, it’s a pleasure to have you on the show. Before we jump into things, I just want to quickly introduce you to our audience. Colin, for those folks who don’t know, he’s actually a popular blogger, he has a cool website called willpower.co; he’s a researcher, speaker, competitive amateur athlete and an expert on the topic of willpower. And that’s a topic I really want to deep dive in with Colin today and kind of explore how it relates to the world of trading, so welcome again Colin to the show.
[04:58] Colin: Great, I’m excited to be here.
[05:00] Houston: Yeah, o maybe before we get too deep into things, I’m curious how did you get into researching willpower because it’s a fascinating topic?
[05:07] Colin: Sure, so basically since I graduated from University, I’ve been in start-ups working as the leader of them or I’ve been as part of a small team and I’ve always been kind of curious about what separates the entrepreneurial ventures that become huge, huge successes and the many, many more that become failures. And so, I started studying the successes and the failures to see what really was different and what I noticed was that there wasn’t really that big of a difference between how hard each one worked and even how passionate they were about building a great business or anything like that. (Houston: Yeah) What really separates them was willpower and that’s more than just hard working, that’s also the ability to – like Steve Jobs was being kind of arrogant and put yourself out there and put ideas out there that are outside of your own and everyone else’s comfort zone but that you believe in so much that you are willing to go after it; and then also in the world of investing Warren Buffet for example, he didn’t just work hard, he also did those really, really boring things that nobody else was willing to do – like everyone in there that’s trying to make a quick buck didn’t do the type of research that he was willing to do.
[06:25] Houston: Right, and it seems like it’s interesting because willpower seems to be so intangible in some ways right but we all at a basic level understand the importance of willpower; as it pertains to trading, for instance – I think most of us as traders, we come to the game of trading and we think that we think that we need to apply willpower as it pertains to maybe how we apply out setups or how we try to manage our emotions when we trade or how we can have more discipline to follow out trade plans and it one of the simple fleeting thing yet it’s so substantial in the way we do everything, so why does willpower matter; kind of talk to us about it a high level there but why do you think it matters Colin?
[06:09] Colin: Sure; when you break down what willpower really is (Houston: yeah), it’s basically three different things and this was explored by Stanford help psychologist Kelly McGonigal who wrote The Willpower Instinct a recommended read and so it’s basically three different things: it’s I willpower which is the ability to force yourself to do something like go to the gym or spend the time that you need to study the markets or studying stocks that you’re interested in etc and then there is also I won’t power which is the ability to resist things like we usually think about this like when there’s tempting foods and eating healthy and it also applies to holding back on trades and not being impulsive (Houston: right) so the top one above that is also I want power which is when you’re working towards your long term goals and putting everything, all your short-term desires that conflicts with that goal aside so I think it’s really important even in the world of trading, for those reasons that I mentioned.
[07:14] Houston: And what do you find, I think that’s interesting because sometimes traders believe that we work in a bubble, that we operate in a world that’s kind of outside of the real world but there is this idea that we’re integrated right, so how we do anything is how we do everything so this idea of being able to work on something like willpower outside of our trading should be able to or does have benefits to our trading. So, what are ways that people can strengthen their will power so let’s say I have issues with discipline in my trading, are there things I should be working on let’s say outside of my trading that may relate back that I can then pull into my trading ?
[08:56] Colin: Sure, so in most cases I would say you can do actual exercises that strengthen either your I will or your I won’t power in those two scenarios that I brought up earlier; so there are some things that you can do that will test or strengthen your I will power would be something like working on your posture so even for just an hour you make sure that you sit up straight when they force kids to do that they found that those who were the most rigorous in sitting up and using their posture and that kind of thing, your body is in the habit to slouch so you have to will yourself to sit up; that will help you also with some of the discipline when you don’t want to do the research for a stock, you ought to be able to do it down the road. Mental training is just like anything else, anything or when you start practicing things that relate to one another you will strengthen your willpower muscle if you will for other things that have to do with the same thing. Some I won’t power challenges you could do is hold yourself back from saying any swear words – if that’s a regular part of your vocabulary – or using your opposite hand for an hour; anything like that where you are wanting to do something a certain way but you have to resist the temptation to do it. That’s gonna help you to stop from being so impulsive in real life.
[10:32] Houston: So, is true – you’ve done the research – is it true that willpower is kind of like a muscle that you can build up and strengthen over time?
[10:41] Colin: Yes, basically we’ve learnt just in the last ten years that the brain is much more plastic than we once thought it was; we used to think that the brain was fixed – you’re either smart or you’re not; you’re good at this or you’re not – it’s just like practicing any skill, it’s like playing the piano, over time the more you practice, the more you’re gonna be able to build it up into something that is more successful.
[10:04] Houston: Yeah, because I think all of us have heard by now this idea of willpower being this kind of depleting resource and I’ve experienced it myself especially in trading and I know other traders probably encounter the same thing where you’re staring at a screen all day, you’re trying to manage your emotions, especially if you’re a newer trader youre trying to control your emotions even harder as you’re certainly depleting your will power, can you talk more about this kind of depletion of willpower as an idea?
[11:37] Colin: Sure, so essentially think about your willpower as kind of like a battery or like a phone that you charge overnight; you stock up and throughout the day or at the very beginning you’re at 100% and then throughout the day, there’s certain things that slowly eat away at it so making yourself a healthy breakfast, trying to resist the donuts at work, forcing yourself to get through all of your morning emails – all that kind of stuff even holding back your tongue from your boss and not telling him what you really feel – all that type of stuff. So, it slowly kind of chips away at it and so that’s why you get the [2:30] feeling as they say where you just feel like you have way less willpower at the end of the day; so really you want to be working on your most important tasks as early as possible when you have the most battery.
[12:32] Houston: And is this what relates to just the amount of glucose available to your brain or is there more factors than that?
[12:42] Colin: I mean that’s definitely a strong part of it and your brain requires glucose it’s the willpower fuel if you will, and food goes in and refuels it, sleep refuels it eve practices like meditation refuels it but depending on how strong your willpower muscle is, it’s going to require less glucose for you to exert willpower; does that make sense?
[12:10] Houston: Yeah; so once you’ve made something a habit then perhaps its takes less energy to do that action versus someone that is new to it and have to exert themselves very hard.
[13:20] Colin: Sure, so habits are a little bit different though if you want to get down to the nitty gritty because they require less – almost no willpower – but mostly what I’m talking about is like is if you have trained yourself to eat a healthy lunch, you don’t need to go through the habit of I need to have my lunch of this exact salad at this exact time in order to make the right decision if you have just trained yourself to eat healthy on a regular basis; you’re going to e able to look at a lunch menu and I’m not going to take the burger and fries, I’m going to go with the salad instead, does that make sense?
[ 14:00] Houston: Yeah, it does. And so we can explore like some characters and like some individuals who have interesting willpower, habits or willpower traits like for instance I’ve heard that story about Barack Obama or even Steve Jobs wearing the same clothes all the time right and the reason being I think it’s because of willpower depletion.
[14:22] Colin: Exactly, so eventually decisions are one of our biggest waste of our willpower – not only because we need to think about what we’re going to do or what we’re going to wear today as in the case of Barack Obama but also because we mentally rehearse the consequences of every decision that we make. We’re not just thinking about what we’re wearing but we’re also thinking about what Susie is going to think about what we’re wearing today and when was the last time I wore this outfit and what will people think about it if I wear it again and all that kind of stuff. As you go through that, your brain is going through glucose over those mental rehearsals; so personally I have twenty of those black V-necks that I wear every single day and I wouldn’t be Mr. Willpower if I didn’t take some of my own advice.
[15:11] Houston: That’s cool. So that’s interesting because that makes so much sense; I was thinking about just the decisions that you’re making upfront about what to wear but I wasn’t considering all the subsequent decisions about all the social impacts and the decisions you’re making about the judgments you might be getting from other people. Does that actually release the amount of stress, or do you feel a little less kind of….
Colin: Totally, it absolutely does. I mean, that just a great example because it’s so foreign and yet it seems like such a little thing (Houston: yeah) that it makes such a big impact but there’s also a whole bunch of other things that’s making the decision ahead of time just makes everything easier. For example the best way that they found dieters lose weight is by planning their meals in advance; if you are coming home from a long day at work and it’s been extremely stressful and your plan was just to eat a healthy dinner and you’re on a diet then you’re going to get low on willpower and its going to be really easy to just call in some take out or just put in a frozen pizza or whatever but if you have that meal planned ahead, all you need to d is just execute on the plan you already had rather than coming up with a plan and then executing which would require more willpower.
[16:39] Houston: So true. And this idea also makes me think about when we’re trying to do, when we’re trying to start or begin anything, it seems like we need to have a little bit of a primer in the beginning, just to prime us to do something for example dieting or going to the gym – you have to put your shoes close to the door or whatever or else you’re not going to go the gym.
[17:04] Colin: Sure, yeah. And along those same lines the more you can focus on just the next steps in whatever goal you’re trying to accomplish, you’re going to be much more likely to accomplish it so most people – you take the gym in the morning as an example, you know when you hear the alarm at six or five thirty or whatever – whenever you’re going to go to the gym – you’re immediately thinking about sleep versus going to the gym (Houston: right) and at that point you’re exhausted from the night before, all you want to do is just sleep longer and instead of focusing on sleep or gym just think about just put my feet on the floor and get up or just focus on getting into the kitchen and making my pre-workout snack or whatever you want to do; just focusing on the next step is going to be infinitely easier
[12:00] Houston: So maybe that means reducing the amount of open loops that are available and just making the decisions that are kind of binary or just like very…
[18:09] Colin: Well, you just think about each next step –it’s so much easier than that huge leap from sleeping in bed to working out …
[18:17] Houston: Yeah, doing intense reps at the gym…
[18:20] Colin: Exactly, the person who wants to research a stock for next hour, just spending the time to get into a place where they can be productive and they can do that and even like spending ten minutes researching, they’re going to be able to get into a place where they are more productive and focused and actually enjoying the process rather than it being more likely that they are going to procrastinate thinking about the hour that they need to give up.
[18:51] Houston: Right and I also see kind of tangents as it applies to trading where while you’re actually in a trade, that’s the last place where you want to have those open loops where you’re deciding how to make decisions about what to do next (Colin: sure) so having a very clear defined scenario in terms of what you’re going to do so a number of if-then statements or however you want to lay it out, you’re not constantly taxing your willpower trying to make decisions as the day progresses, that will keep you fresher longer.
[19:22] Colin: Oh absolutely, I can easily see that applying if-then statements especially when you’re in situations where you’re under pressure like that but if you have those it’s going to reduce your stress and you’re going to be able to – just like with the person who is coming home and has their meal already planned – you’re just going to be able to execute rather than having to come up with the plan and execute.
[19:45] Houston: That makes a lot of sense and so we talked about diet there for a second and I see on your website you talked about the necessity to eat the right foods and fill yourself with the right types of fuels; what do you think are some good power foods for people to think about to keep them stocked up on energy?
[20:11] Colin: So what you want to do is send a steady stream of glucose to your brain – if you high fructose corn syrup, sugary, fatty foods it’s going to send a lot of glucose to your brain immediately and then you’re going to crash so the goal is really to eat a whole bunch of individual foods that are the absolute best but as a general rule of thumb just any food that looks like actual food – so the less that its processed, the better it is for your long term willpower .
[20:45] Houston: Right, so more natural, lower glycemic foods like almonds maybe, stuff like..
[20:51] Colin: Almonds are great…
 Houston: Almond butter, any other ideas?
[20:59] Colin: Yeah, so meats – any lean meats, vegetables – basically every vegetable is good but especially root vegetables so sweet potatoes, carrots, stuff like that; also fruits, try to stay away from as sugary as possible but as long as they have a lot of fiber in them – those are going to be good for you as well. Essentially, the food that has gone through the least processing because that’s less likely to have high fructose corn syrup which will lead to that spike and crash.
[21:30] Houston: Yeah, so I guess that means you shouldn’t be having a sugary coffee with a big donut in the morning?
[21:54] Houston: Yeah, absolutely. And I have played with this myself and this is the idea of intermittent fasting and it’s becoming more fad adapted to be able to harness more ketones to use as brain fuel (Colin: sure) do you play with that at all or done any research on this at all?
[22:07] Colin: I haven’t done any intermittent fasting myself –it’s strictly been just because I haven’t wanted to not have a steady stream of glucose at all times; for myself I’m sure there’s points where you’re hungry throughout the day – I don’t know for sure – I can’t really touch on it too much, when you’re hungry that’s also when your body is telling you you’re low on willpower and you’re less likely to eat other stuff but if you have a different experience – I’d like to know about it.
[22:43] Houston: Well, I certainly think for some people, it might be quite challenge especially if you’re not a person used to doing any fasting but also if you try it, you would certainly want to be under some supervision or follow a pretty legitimate program because for the first month you can certainly feel as you go through that carb flu stage that most people talk about (Colin: sure) you feel terrible. There’s no getting around that, you really feel terrible.
[23:16] Colin: Yeah; I switched to the Paleo diet at one point and oh man it was hard.
[23:20] Houston: Yeah, and this is even more intense, if you go for the full intense nutritional ketosis effect where you’re really sticking to under 30grams of carbohydrates per day then it takes a while to shift from sugar burner to a fat burner and that first month is pretty rough so if you want to try that people out there then reduce your trading – to say it that way. Don’t try to trade heavy on days where you’re struggling with getting enough glucose to your brain because it’s not a fun experience.
[23:50] Colin: And increase your sleep during those days.
[23:52] Houston: That’s a good point – increase your sleep. But the once you get to that three to four weeks depending on what type of condition you’re in then you make that kind of switch to burning ketones as fuel source for your brain and your brain lights up – your brain really loves that stuff and I found myself feeling really, really good for long periods of time without you having to eat very often – cause we’re eating a lot, a lot of fat but I think it’s an interesting experiment for a lot of people. I’ve had other guests talk about reducing the amount of sugar in their diets and all the benefits of some of that so I thought that’s an interesting discussion. But at the end of the day, you’re feeding the brain – ultimately the brain is that organ that is gonna make all of our decisions so what else can we do to maybe boost our willpower – is there any other thing that we can do – you mentioned like meditation, any other exercises or practices?
[24:50] Colin: Sure, so right now I am in a bit of a challenge myself, I am in the last eight days of running a kick starter campaign and I need to really push hard at the finish right now and the way I see it is over the next eight days I am going to want to put as much time and effort into this thing as I can possible can, which mean I am going to be cutting back on the normal amount of sleep that I get, but the good thing is sleep isn’t the only thing that fuels your willpower. There is also meditation – meditation has been proven to, basically ten minutes of meditating, if you do it properly and it is not necessarily a long term solution, but if you do ten minutes of mediation it is going to make up for an hour’s worth of sleep. The reason why it does that is because meditation is one of the few times when your brain is absolutely quiet and even when you are sleeping your subconscious is moving along and it is working and growing and everything like that or as during meditation your brain is completely off, so you get a little bit more extra rest from that.
[26:05] Houston: And so have you try something like heart rate variability? I know that’s a Kelly McConigal talks about that in her book earlier. Have you played with that technology?
[25:15] Colin: So I haven’t worked with any of the technologies that they have to increase it, but just certain things, your heart rate variability goes down, therefore your will power goes down when you are in situations where you are completely tempted. A story that I love to use for this is when or – I have a big love of the muffins at Starbucks, I don’t know why it is, I just for whatever reasons that’s like my one vice and so I was going along with my friend the other day and we were in line and I was looking at the muffin, I was kind of low on willpower at that point, cause I was near the end of the day, it was like three o’clock and I was like I need to get this muffin, I need to get this muffin, but no, no I can’t get this muffin, because I said I wasn’t going to eat any baked goods during this month etc and you know that inner debate that you usually have? (Houston: yeah) And there is a really good technique for dealing with that inner debate, where you really want it, your short term side really want something and your long term side is debating it saying no, no, no don’t get it and that is actually called per posited procrastination and positive procrastination will is just me saying that, if I really want this muffin I can get it on the way out, but for now I am just going to put off the decision until I leave Starbucks and what that will do is increase your heart rate variability again, it will give you a quick boost of will power and pretty much after those ten minutes or over and I spend the time at Starbuck, I was like okay I don’t really need this muffin. Does that make sense?
[28:04] Houston: Yeah, why do you think that work? That’s a fascinating one; it makes sense to me like I have tried that myself not in that exact intention, but I have certainly done things like that where I had that same outcome. Why does that work?
[28:15] Colin: Sure, so when you first lay eyes on that thing that you really want – in my case the muffin. Your brain releases dopamine, it’s the reward center of the brain, it’s the chemical that basically told our ancestors like there is a gazelle in the distance and whatever you do you need to hunt down that gazelle right now. It gave us the motivation to get out there and trying to get it when we are starving and weak and we needed that gazelle to survive, so in today’s society we don’t really need that muffin as much as they needed the gazelle, so it releases dopamine for us to think that this muffin is the most desiring thing in the world, we want it more than anything we can possibly want ever again, but as soon as you say you are going to put the decision off for ten minutes, your brain is able to clear itself of that dopamine and so the decision or you just lose all the stress and by the time the ten minutes are up, your brain is clear of the dopamine you don’t want it as much.
[29:21] Houston: And then there is a less likelihood you are actually going to want it after that time, so when you leave you are like ugh, I don’t want it anymore.
[29:28] Colin: Exactly, so you could apply this to say you want to make an impulse purchase, if you can will yourself to hold off on the fancy car for a day, all of a sudden it doesn’t seem quite as desirable anymore.
[29:46] Houston: Interesting: I have to play with that idea. Wonder where else I can apply that, it’s an interesting one. It seems like next action loop right, where you are like okay I already know what I am going to do. I am going to wait till I am going to leave this place before I make the next decision, so you kind of not leaving that open ended question out there – that is a neat one. So let’s back track a second, so you mentioned your kick starter campaign; tell us a little more about that one.
[30:17] Colin: Sure, so like I said basically I have been researching what separates the greats from the people who try just as hard, they work just as hard, they were just as passionate, but didn’t make it and I have come to the conclusion that it was willpower both to do the boring this that you don’t want to do, also get up every single day and do it with great consistency and also push your comfort zone on a regular basis beyond what you are others are willing to do and so what I did is I studied twelve different people across various domains all coming from very different backgrounds, different time periods, so we have Mozart, we have Kobe Bryant, we have Timble Brandon who is one of the most famous people who overcame Autism in their life and was able to actually become one of the greatest innovators in our field- her story is incredibly interesting, J.K. Rowling, Warren Buffet, Steve Jobs. So I studied all of these people to see how they used their willpower to reach the level of success that they did and then I just tied the scientific concepts we have been talking about today into each one of their stories and then put them into practical terms to help people use the exact same strategies that they did to achieve whatever greatness that they sought; and so after five years or so, various reach and writing finally put into a full length book and I am just running a kick starter so that I can publish or publish, print it, get it edited professionally, etc…
[31:49] Houston: And how many days you have left of your kick starter?
[31:51] Colin: So I have eight left and just making a strong push to the finish and it is a great opportunity for me, because here I am saying that the concept in this book will help you overcome whatever challenge you are facing and so here I am with a huge challenge myself and I have the ability to prove these concepts can actually help you overcome challenges that I write about.
[32:14] Houston: Beautiful (Colin: Yeah) Talking the talk and walking the walk (Colin: Exactly) very nice and so what can we draw on from some of those stories of some of the people you researched, like is willpower one of those things where it is – is it something we are born with? We kind of talk about that already, but do you thing that some of these people just had a stronger willpower than other folks or do you think that they intentionally or maybe purposely or not purposely so how built up that willpower to just perform at such a high level?
[32:47] Colin: So I would say the underlying thing that all these people had in common, was that they weren’t born with remarkable willpower, but they did find and embraced their purpose and so they found the thing that they want to do more than anything else in the world and whether that was because they were just really good at it or they just had a big passion for it or they thought that it was going to be the thing that they could really make a dent in and because they had that passion for whatever their purpose might have been. They were able to develop the willpower throughout their lives to continue to pursue it against opposition, challenges, etc… to reach the level of greatness that they did. So they weren’t born with the willpower, but what they did was embrace their purpose.
[33:37] Houston: Yeah, it that kind of fuelled their desire to keep on the journey.
[33:42] Colin: Exactly; and through that whole journey that each step they were strengthen their willpower throughout and eventually reach their destination.
[33:52] Houston: And in terms of the purpose, is that something that just based on those stories, is it purpose that they found, is it a passion they found or do the passion and purpose find them, cause sometimes it happens the other way around as well, right?
[34:05] Colin: Sure yeah, the story really varies – so you look at Mozart and at the age of one basically he was already listening to his father teach his sister how to play the piano and his father was teaching all these other kids that just filled the Mozart home with playing the piano. So obviously that led to him growing up even as a kid or a little toddler and wanting to be a part of music, so obviously he didn’t bring it up upon himself, but he did start practicing at the age of four and he did have a remarkable ability to keep at it, so in that case it kind of found him. But in the case of Arnold Schwarzenegger – he was in this poor Austrian village and before he had the idea that he wanted to be a body building champion or a movie star or Governor, he had the idea, I need to get out of here, I want something more than just to follow my father’s footsteps and become a police officer and so he began to search for a purpose and eventually he came across an article on a man named Reg Park who was the current Mr. Universe and it was about how Mr. Universe became Hercules, so he said that once he read that magazine article, the whole plan was laid out, he was going to become a body building champion and a huge movie star and so it was because he had the openness to fin the plan that he was able to do it.
[35:42] Houston: Yeah, I remember reading that in Total Recall, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s autobiography and he talks about like he always knew he wanted to move to America, right. He was going to move to American and become this big movie star, body builder the rest of it so, it is an amazing story and that is also a great book. So I guess is that where you begin then, so you want to be aligned with your purpose and passion, that’s the place to start from if you want to get exceptional results?
[36:06] Colin: Yeah, I would say so. I would say opening yourself up to the search, you might not know exactly what your purpose or your desire or thing that you are really willing to fight for, that you are willing to go through all the pain in order to get it, you might not know what it is yet, but by opening yourself up to the search. There was probably thousands and thousands of kids who read that exact same article as Arnold Schwarzenegger did, but they didn’t see it as oh my God this is the exact path to becoming a huge success in life, they just saw it as an article, because his mind was open to search he was able to see it more than that.
[36:44] Houston: That’s fascinating and this also ties back to the popular marshmallow experiment (Colin: Sure) Maybe you can just share with that experiment is, but the results of that is really, really fascinating.
[36:57] Colin: Yeah absolutely, so the marshmallow test was a test conducted in 1970 and basically they brought kids in that were four years old and put a marshmallow in a plate in front of them and then the experimenter said they could eat the marshmallow right now, but if they could just wait fifteen minutes they would get a second marshmallow, so basically they were trying to see what age are kids able to understand the benefits of delaying gratification and only about one third of the kids were able to hold out for the second marshmallow compared to six year olds who was about one half who were able to hold out for the second marshmallow. So that was experiment done, we figured out that at the age of six kids start figuring out better and as they age I am sure they will be able to figure it out better or even more than that, but then they decided to do follow up studies on the kids from the marshmallow test, so they were able to see when they became elementary school kids that they were more well behaved or those kids who could hold out for the second marshmallow were more well behaved. When they became adolescents they got better grades than the other kids, they graduated from high school and went to better universities and then when they went to the real world they got better jobs, I believe they made about $23,000 per year more, something like that and now continuing studies that they are doing on them today they report much more happiness, much more success and much more health in their lives. So just that one thing, the ability to delay a gratification as four year old was a better measure of life success than the things that we usual think about like I.Q. or family income or neighborhood you grew up in or any of that stuff.
[38:56] Houston: Yeah and it just pulls back to like how do we strengthen our willpower as we go through life. It just sounds like the take away there is we want just continuously be thinking okay where can I begin to develop my levels of self control and self discipline. You believe those are inter-changeable self control and self discipline or do you have any ideas around the use of those two terms?
[39:22] Colin: So self control and willpower are essentially the same thing, I like to think of discipline as mostly about I won’t power, it is more about holding back from doing the things you know are not good for your long term. It is less discipline to say will yourself to push pass your comfort zone and stuff like that.
[39:48] Houston: Okay; so any other tips or practice we can use to strengthen our willpower, know we have talked about a few already around different exercises we can do. Is there a practice we can just continue on or we should try to look for in our life where we can kind of lean into things or do you have any other ideas around how we could be in that kind of loop of just kind of stretching our willpower muscles?
[40:15] Colin: Sure, so the number one practice that you can do for your willpower is meditation, just ten minutes per day, it has remarkable effects and it lowers your stress, it increase your heart rate variability and it gives you the ability to focus your attention on the things that matter. I don’t know if everyone knows what meditation is here, but essentially meditation is just the practice of bringing your thoughts to present, usually our minds are wondering to the past thinking about things that we could have done better or it is thinking about or planning for the future and how we can either set ourselves up for success in the future or more likely worrying about what might happen. So meditation is simply sitting down by yourself in a room, being quiet, setting a timer for ten minutes and just focusing on inhale and exhale and most people realize when they do that it is extremely boring – your thoughts wonder right away into everything else in your to do list, but the more you can just bring it back to inhale and exhale the stronger your willpower becomes, because now you are not thinking about like, when you get to the office you’re not thinking about those donuts and coffee that you are trying to resist anymore, because you have more control over your thoughts
[41:39] Houston: Yeah, certainly I am a big advocate of meditation and for the folks who maybe are new to the practice, I actually have a twenty eight day meditation challenge for traders on my website so check it out if you are a trader and you are interested in meditation. Colin, any other advice in terms of strengthening willpower muscles?
[41:56] Colin: Sure the last piece of advice and it is probably besides meditation the most important thing that not enough of persons do right and that is maintaining the proper perspective. Just thinking about getting out of bed and going to gym in the morning as an opportunity rather than an obligation, you get to go to the gym to work on your health so you can be more fit and help you down the road to live more years etc…, it is an opportunity for you to do than, not an obligation and along the same lines you can do that super easy by simply changing I have to go to the gym to I get to go to the gym, just mentally rehearsing I get to rather than I have to. With any of you I willpower challenges it will go along way and then for I won’t power challenges a great way you can change your perspective, is rather than saying I can’t do this, so I can’t stay up late partying or I can’t eat this tempted food, whatever it is (Houston: I feel so bad) yeah, the message you are sending yourself is I really would want to do this, but I can’t do it because I am on a diet or I promise I wouldn’t or whatever. You can easily change that by saying, I don’t. I don’t eat cookies, I don’t party late, o don’t drink more than three beers whatever, whatever your challenge is, switching it to I don’t you start to identify yourself and see things from the perspective as someone who is healthy, who and just doesn’t do those sort of things
[43:43] Houston: I like that one a lot it kind of reminds me of that other reframe where instead of saying, if you are a smoker, instead of saying I am a none smoker, you simply say, I am an athlete I don’t smoke cigarettes.
[43:54] Colin: Exactly – it’s the same thing, the more you reinforce that to message to yourself, the more the more you become that person.
[43:60] Huston: Yeah, well said. So I know we are running to the end of our time; so Colin, why don’t you tell us a little bit more about your kick starter. I know you only have a few days left, tell us a little bit more about that and then tell us again what is the best place people can stay in contact with you, follow you, where can people just keep the communication going?
[44:17] Colin: Sure, so you will find everything that I talked about today at willpower.co, I will send you over the link to the site, there is a whole bunch of free resources on it for you guys to learn, exactly the actually meditation practice, the very best food for willpower, ten exercises you can do to strengthen it, you can find the ones that will actually work for you and then as far as the kick starter goes I will be sending that link to you as well Houston. We are running it for another eight days, we are nearing our goal right now and it is really exciting, it is really, we are really close in getting the book published and if you want to you can get a pre-order on there or you can get some other really awesome rewards as well.
[45:02] Houston: Cool, thank you man it sounds like a fascinating work and I really support it, so before we end today’s call I am just going to ask audience a question that I usually like to ask. So what’s your big take was away from today’s episode? What is the one really big idea that captured your attention and imagination? Let us know, go to the show page, as you usual you can find the show notes, the transcript and all the resources that Colin and I mentioned today on the show page and that’s on the tradingedge.org/episode18. So Colin, thank you so much for your time man, best of luck on the remaining days of your kick starter.
[45:40] Colin: Thank you very much sir.
[45:41] Houston: Absolutely.
willpowered.co – Colin’s website
Kickstarter – Link to Colin’s Kickstarter for his book “The Will of Heroes”
The Will of Heroes – Link to pre-order the book
28 Day Mindfulness for Traders Challenge – Meditation is one of the surest ways to improve your willpower. Here’s a guided meditation program I have put together specifically for traders.
Willpower Exercises – Ways to strengthen your willpower
Foods – Best foods for willpower
List of books – Colin’s recommended books on willpower
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