The Watering Hole Blog

Willpower Launches You…

Willpower Launches You on Your Journey…

Good Habits Help Ensure You’ll Arrive

turtle with rocket

But if you don’t take the time to look at what is really causing you to fail where you so desperately want to succeed, willpower and habits can only take you so far.

For example, how is it possible that I – who was left in excellent financial shape after my police officer husband died in the line of duty – had managed to get into debt? 

Friends, that is an excellent question. And to begin to answer it, I will refer to a Brian Willis seminar I attended years ago – at which Brian also had his son, Jesse, speak. Jesse would’ve only been in his early 20’s at the time but his honesty hit a little too close to home…literally.

Jesse framed his presentation around his personal experience of losing a significant amount of weight. Jesse’s trigger – the moment he realized something had to change – was seeing the scale read 280 pounds.

My trigger wasn’t weight-related; it was wealth-related. And it had come six months earlier, with the realization that I HAD to sell my beloved home. Although my dream of moving to the ocean certainly motivated me to pull my head out of the sand and get my house ready to put on the market, the reality was that in order for me to get back on track financially, I would have to get out of debt. And to do that, I’d have to sell my house.

Houston…we have a problem.

Recognizing that a problem exists is one matter; accepting that what we are presently doing to fix it is NOT working is quite another.

Jesse’s moment of truth came after he’d made himself throw up after eating – again – and then looked in the mirror. He didn’t like what he saw. For me, it was looking at my negative bank balance and maxed-out credit card and line of credit statements month after month. I didn’t like what I saw.

There is no ‘magic bullet’

Jesse’s approach to losing weight was a quick fix for short-term results – with serious long-term health implications. Likewise, getting myself out of debt by selling my home and moving to a different province was not solving the problem. It was a temporary solution…albeit one that I was very grateful for.

However, I knew that if I didn’t address the underlying beliefs towards money that got me into this pickle in the first place – and subsequently change the habits that reinforce these beliefs – the only thing that would change in my new life was the view outside my window.

Otherwise, in a few years I would find myself in exactly the same position as I was then: financially over-extended, living beyond my means, servicing debt instead of saving and investing in my future, running a non-profitable business and wasting precious energy worrying about money – instead of putting making money high on my priority list.

“A lack of money is merely a symptom of what is going on underneath.”

T. Harv Ecker, Secrets of the Millionaire Mind

Uh oh.

“If you come into big money when you’re not ready for it on the inside,” wrote T. Harv Ecker, “the chances are your wealth will be short-lived and you will lose it.”

The fact is: my husband’s on-duty death gave me the financial opportunity to fulfill my dream of becoming a writer. To say I experienced some guilt about this fact would be an understatement.

And to be honest, I don’t think I fully realized just how deep my guilt ran until my financial statements started indicating an alarming trend. And yet, in one form or another, I still proceeded to give the bulk of my money – and my time – away over the next ten years.


Because deep down – right or wrong – I believed that was blood money and therefore I had no right to profit from my husband’s death. In other words, I didn’t deserve that money in the first place, so it was okay to lose it.

Well guess what? That’s exactly what happened.

When you strip away all the excuses, all that’s left is RESPONSIBILITY

Ouch! That was the point in Jesse’s presentation where I really wanted to crawl under the table. For I had somehow hard-wired my mind with some pretty sweet excuses justifying why I wasn’t currently making significant amounts of money as a writer: a) I don’t really need it because I have a secure personal income; b) making a living as a writer is supposedly very difficult to do and; c) marketing and sales is awfully hard work and not a lot of fun.

The time had come for me to shed my excuses and take responsibility for my future.

Here are 8 suggestions from Jesse – that I am still striving to implement in my own life – on moving forward:

1. Create an image of yourself that is so strong, you are compelled to take steps towards achieving it. Imagery is vital. Visualize what you want to achieve…create an image of what you want to be and work towards that.

2. Educate yourself…knowledge is power. Find out about what is really going on versus what someone (including your own damn self) wants you to think is going on. Take the best and dump the rest.

3. Develop healthy self talk. The most powerful conversations you will ever have will be the ones in your own mind.

4. If you take the approach of “all or nothing,” it will probably be nothing – this is human nature.

5. Take small steps, such as walking around the block or investing $50 a month. Small steps will turn into big things. Often when you stop looking for immediate results, that’s when results start to happen.

6. Choose achievable goals.

7. Develop good habits. Create new habits that are effective and work for YOU. It takes 21 days for a new habit to kick in.

8. Start wherever you are. Don’t wait for the conditions to be perfect – they never will be.

Willpower gets you going on your journey; good habits help ensure you arrive

Willpower is like a rocket booster: it launches you in the direction you want to go. However, at some point, willpower will fall off…rocket boosters are designed that way. It is good habits that will help ensure you arrive at your destination.

A better term for failure is feedback

Jesse reminded us that nobody gets to a successful place in life without some setbacks. As such, I chose to look at my financial situation as powerful feedback that although the decisions I made in the past were the best I could make at the time, the mindset behind those decisions was no longer working for me.

So instead, I began educating myself (again) on financial matters, analyzing and changing my beliefs towards money, shifting my thoughts to reflect a positive, abundant attitude and continually tweaking my daily habits – such as tackling my writing and marketing tasks first thing in the morning – so that I can continue moving forward towards a financially successful future.

But at the end of the day, if I look in the mirror and don’t like what I see, all the willpower and good habits in the world won’t be enough to ensure I hold on to the money I do have, never mind attract more.

And that, friends, is perhaps the most important lesson of all. For I suspect it is only when we truly believe – deep down in our soul – that we are worth the success we strive so hard to achieve, will we ever be able to achieve it.

Maryanne Pope is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. She is the author of A Widow’s Awakening and the upcoming book, Barrier Removed; A Tough Love Guide to Achieving Your Dreams. If you would like to receive her weekly blog, please sign up here.


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4 thoughts on “Willpower Launches You…”

  1. Thanks for this challenging and honest post. I’m creating a new life after husband’s death six years ago–lots of good things happening but I feel out of balance. Too much striving and not enough self-nurturing at this moment. Yes, willpower gets me only so far. Thank you for reminder.
    Best to you, Elaine

  2. Thanks so much for your comment, Elaine! I am so sorry to hear that your husband passed away 6 years ago…it is quite the journey, isn’t it?

    It is SO difficult to maintain a sense of balance. I totally understand what you say about swinging too far in the direction of striving and away from self-nurturing. But I have learned time and again that if we don’t take care of ourselves first, everything else falls to pieces 🙁

    Take care and thank you so much for reading my posts,

  3. Thank you for your honesty and courage. I have seen stats that 1 in 5 widows slip below the poverty line within 5 years. Often it’s not because she wasn’t left with adequate means but rather she received poor advice, made poor decisions, was victimized by cons, even family and “friends.”

  4. WOW!!! That stat is shocking – but perhaps not surprising. Thank you so much for sending me this note, Ella. I am currently working on a book, “Life After Loss; Lessons from Grief, Grace & Growth” and will be including a chapter about grief & money. After the death of a spouse, we are in no shape to be making important financial decisions – and we often HAVE to…or let others make those decisions for us. I will also be writing an entire book just about the money lessons I have learned. Take care – and thanks again so much for the comment.

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