We have exaggerated ideas about our capabilities. We like to think we can do it all. But no matter how disciplined you are or how hard you try, without a ‘sane estimate of your capabilities’, you’re setting yourself up to fail. John Ortberg says: ‘Willpower is…finite…You don’t get separate stockpiles for different areas…That’s why a long list of New Year’s resolutions is almost certainly doomed…It takes a whole lot of willpower to get on an exercise…programme to lose weight…If you add on the list: get on a budget…keep your office clean, and read Calvin’s Institutes every week, you set yourself up for failure…For most of us…our wills get depleted…more quickly than our bodies.’ Ortberg suggests these:
1: Schedule your most important tasks for when your willpower is strongest. For many people, that’s the morning. One study shows prisoners have a better shot at parole if their case is heard in the morning when the judge has a higher reserve of willpower and is more inclined to take a chance.
2: Spend willpower wisely by not taking on too many tasks at once, even after you have prayed about them. Generally, God works through your will, and He seldom gives you a free pass to disregard the laws of finitude He created.
3: Set goals – but not too many. Lacking a few, we drift, but having an overabundance means we worry about them, accomplish less, and suffer emotionally and physically.
4: Remember that the one act of your will that replenishes willpower instead of depleting it is surrender. God meant for prayer, solitude, worship, and meditation to be done in a way that restores us.