Problems vs. Solutions: willpower

  • You’re asked to use software completely unfamiliar to you…
  • You try a complicated new cooking technique…
  • You take on new responsibilities at work outside your expertise….

What happens?

You struggle. At least at first.

And if you never build the skill or acquire the knowledge you need, you’ll probably continue to struggle.

Gap in skills and knowledge

Yes, while attempting to achieve a goal or adopt a new habit does require discipline and willpower, the real root of the struggle is often caused by a gap in skills or knowledge.

For instance, I have a client who wants to change careers. She talks a good game about wanting a different type of job, but procrastinates about taking action. Feeling frustrated with herself, she says, I’m just not disciplined.

But when we dig deeper, a lack of knowledge is at the root of her struggle. She simply doesn’t know how to go about the job search.

There’s a saying, You can’t know what you don’t know. This is true for my client.

She’s never transitioned into a new career. She doesn’t know the steps (knowledge), and she’s never taken those steps (skill).

Are YOU faced with Upgrade tolerations?

The solution to a knowledge or skill problem is not more discipline, willpower, or even want-power. It’s about capability.

Lacking knowledge or skills to accomplish the task at hand creates friction and energy drain I call an Upgrade toleration.

While there are 8 types of tolerations, this particular toleration rears its ugly head when you need to upgrade your skills and knowledge. It’s about what you know and what you know how to do.

The energy drain of Upgrade tolerations

Let’s look at two examples of leaking energy because of Upgrade tolerations.

Mary is living beyond her means. Overspending is causing a great deal of stress and anxiety. Mary confides to a friend about her financial health. Her friend says, You just need to put together a budget and stick with it.

While Mary nods knowingly, nothing changes. Why? Because she doesn’t know how to put together a budget. Without adding to her knowledge and building this skill, Mary’s toleration will continue.

Jane wants to start a blog. But she doesn’t know whether to use WordPress or Squarespace. Jane says, The WordPress experts all tell me to use their platform. The Squarespace community says their website builder is best.

Jane is so worried about making the wrong choice, she stays stuck with this toleration. She needs to know which platform is best—not in general terms, but for her. Meaning, which one is best for the type of blog she wants to create and which one does she want to learn how to use.

We all have these stumbling blocks

Now, it’s easy to point the finger at Mary and Jane. What could be so hard? Just sit down and make a budget. Spend an hour researching WordPress versus Squarespace and make a decision.

But not so fast.

Because while budgeting and blogging may not be your stumbling blocks, we all have these Upgrade tolerations in our lives.

Where we’re stuck or stalled or stressed because we haven’t acquired the skill or knowledge or resource we need.

Just Google for some tips…

It’s easy to spot these tolerations in others’ lives—and think the solution is simple. Someone complains about this or that and you think, Just Google for some tips. Take a class. Ask a few friend for referrals. Read the how-to guide.

But when it comes to our own lives, these Upgrade tolerations can be equally stubborn about sticking around—and draining energy.

  • You’re unsure which college savings plan is the right one. There’s a lot riding on your choice. So you delay deciding. In the meantime, it nags at the back of your mind.
  • You feel taken advantage of, but don’t know how to establish and enforce better boundaries. So you don’t. In the meantime, you feel increasingly resentful, which is taking a toll on your relationships.
  • Your poor handwriting bugs you. But you don’t sign up for the Improve Your Penmanship class. In the meantime, every time you write something by hand you “should” yourself.
  • You’d really like to sell some of the things you make on Etsy, but stop at saying, I don’t know how. In the meantime, you ache for more creative expression in your life and feel disappointed for not honoring this part of yourself.

Think of something you’re reluctantly putting up with in your life that could be resolved by acquiring knowledge, learning a new skill or getting the resource you need.

It’s time for an upgrade. What do you need to learn and learn how to do? What resources do you need?