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Why Willpower Does Not Work When it Comes to Money (or Anything)

The money gurus will tell you that being in control of your money is a matter of willpower. I say phooey! Using willpower makes managing your money neither easy nor palatable. The reason they count on willpower is because they haven’t (and/or they can’t) give you a proper money management system with established controls.

What’s a control? Controls are used everywhere… in business, in security, in our laws, on our roadways, etc. A control is a procedure that is implemented to either encourage or discourage a certain type of behaviour. Think of using a security card to enter an office. That is an example of a control which discourages unauthorized access.

Here is the example of a control for entering a flat-fee parking lot. Some parking lot controls impose restrictions to direct you into a certain kind of behaviour (i.e. keeping the entrance barrier down, limiting access to the lot and lifting it once you have paid), and some force you into a certain kind of behaviour (i.e. displaying road spikes that can puncture your tires, and disarming them only once you have paid). As you see, there are different degrees of controls depending on how adamantly the controller wants the behaviour to happen.

Both parking lot examples exercised different degrees of encouraging a certain behaviour (paying the fee at the entrance) and discouraging another behaviour (skipping out on paying before entering the lot).

Now, let’s take willpower. Willpower is defined as the control of one’s impulses and actions. Was there willpower involved in those two examples? No. There was little need to “control” your impulses and actions, because the consequences of disobeying would be damage to your car… an alternative that is far less appealing than paying the lot fee. Chances are, you had little “impulse” to overcome because you had no desire to charge the barrier or the spikes.

That’s the secret to a successful money management system; imposing controls that are difficult or unattractive to break, so adhering to them is the preferred and easy choice. This makes you more likely to succeed. There are so many ways to break the loose system you currently have in place when managing your money that it’s no wonder you are constantly veering off course from your financial goals!

However, all of this is not to say there isn’t any amount of discipline required. Discipline is defined as an activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill. The purpose of the right money management system is to improve your money management skills, and the outcome is improved financial health. It should not be about testing your willpower on a regular basis.

Do you know what happens when you are stressed, tired, and not focused? You lose your willpower. The right money management system would take away the opportunity for those influences to thwart the process, making success easy.

When the right system is set up to circumvent the need for willpower, the chance of success is much higher. Isn’t that what you want?

  Mortgage Agent Lic. M16001744 -- Mortgage Architects, Lic. 12728, Head office: 5675 Whittle Road, Mississauga, ON L4Z 3P8