by Lynn Woodland
The late spring-early summer months of May and June are all about light and growth. It is the time when light is most on the rise but not at its peak. This comes in the third week of June with the summer solstice.
It’s hard not to feel the energy of the changing seasons. Just as the dark of winter causes some to feel depressed and listless, this time of year is more likely to result in restless energy and sleeplessness as sunlight streams into our bedrooms earlier and earlier each morning.
With warmth and vegetation on the rise, the essence of May and June can be captured in the image of plants reaching toward the sun at the stage just before they tumble over, pulled down by the weight of their own abundant growth. This time of year can be a metaphor for growth as it embodies the energy, aliveness and passion of reaching for the heavens and pursuing our dreams. If there’s something you’ve wanted to do but never seem to find the time or energy for it, now’s the time!
However, passion alone isn’t enough to bring our dreams to life. What makes the difference between exuberant, undirected bursts of energy and productive manifestation is will. Passion without will is like a tomato plant that’s left to grow like a weed without a stake. Will is our power to get the job done, to put dreams into action and make our creativity truly productive. It’s not to be confused with self-discipline which is the force we need to exert to keep ourselves doing what we don’t really want to do. Self-discipline becomes necessary when we’re acting on what we believe we should do rather than what our heart wants. By contrast, will is fueled by love. It’s the energy we put behind things we’re passionate about. When we’re pursuing our dreams we may experience challenges or feel resistance, but the energy to push through comes more readily. We handle the boring chores and obstacles of life easily when they’re steps toward our heart-felt desires.
While the energy of willpower in service to our dreams is easier to access than self-discipline for what we have no passion for, will still needs to be developed. It’s like a muscle: if we don’t exercise it, it becomes weak. When we seldom use our will, it’s not there when we need it, much the same as when we seldom exercise our bodies and find even the simplest exertion leaving us breathless.
Three Aspects of Will
I think of will as having three distinct and equally important components. The first is courage. Courage includes obvious acts of heroism and bold action in the face of real or perceived danger, but it comes into play in more subtle ways as well. Any new venture requires a step beyond what we know and, consequently, a step out of our comfort zone. For example, if you haven’t exercised in twenty years, going to the gym for the first time can be a courageous act.
The second aspect of will is strength. This is the willingness to work hard at something, draw upon all our resources and fully apply ourselves. No matter how much courage it took to join the gym, that’s not enough! We must actually get on the equipment and give it our best, applying all our physical strength and emotional fortitude.
Thirdly comes commitment. This is where, after courageously joining the gym and working out ferociously, we come back and do it again and again. Commitment is the willingness to follow through on our intentions and act with consistency, even when it’s become a little boring, because we know it’s in service to our highest aspirations. Commitment lacks the high energy of applying strength and the adrenalin rush of courage but without it, the tremendous energy expenditure of the first two can wind up being for nothing.
Most of us are better at one of these than the others. A firefighter who exhibits obvious courage in his job may quiver in fear when it comes to taking emotional risks. People who are excellent at keeping their commitments to others may not be able to summon the energy to keep the ones they make to themselves. The more we over-rely on comfortable strengths, the more we limit and weaken ourselves.
Just as will becomes weak when not used, the good news is that we can strengthen it with practice. Here are some ways to do that
Calisthenics for Developing Willpower
Starting with your most passionate goal, think of one step you could take that would require courage and push you out of your comfort zone. Next, think of something you could do in service to this goal that would test your strength and require real effort on your part. Finally, think of one small action you’re willing to commit to doing every day for a month to further your dream.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a morning person, this one gets easier in just a few days and produces significant results.
Identify something important to you that you haven’t made time for. Find some way to give this time and attention first thing upon awakening every morning for a week (longer if you find it’s working for you). Change your usual wake-up routine. This may mean sitting down at your computer and working on the marketing plan for your home-based business or the novel you’ve always wanted to write. It may mean taking time to prepare healthy food to eat later so you’re not tempted by fast food when you’re too tired to bother. It might mean devoting time to prayer or meditation or exercise before the activities of the day distract you. You don’t need to spend a lot of time. Half an hour, even five minutes every day can have a powerful effect.
Now it’s time to get moving! If you have a goal or goals truly dear to your heart, consider taking this challenge and discover for yourself how far passion and will combined can take you.
Lynn Woodland is the author of Making Miracles — Create New Realities for Your Life and Our World, from Namaste Publishing. This article is an excerpt from her year-long, online “Miracles Course” coaching program for living a miraculous life. Lynn welcomes your comments: firstname.lastname@example.org. For information and free downloads see www.LynnWoodland.com.