How To Avoid Mental Fatigue, Improve Internal Motivation, And Increase Willpower | Dr. Isaiah Hankel How To Avoid Mental Fatigue, Improve Internal Motivation, And Increase Willpower | Dr. Isaiah Hankel

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How To Avoid Mental Fatigue, Improve Internal Motivation, And Increase Willpower Through Urgency

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

Thomas A. Edison (American Inventor & Businessman)

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Nelson Mandela (South African Politician & Philanthropist)

“If you are going through hell, keep going.”

Sir Winston Churchill (Former British Prime Minister)


We had the studio for 8 hours.

There was no time for any breaks.

Which meant I was going to “bonk” hard.

(Keep reading — I’ll explain what bonking means).

My friend pulled some strings and got me access to a Hollywood quality production studio.

I wanted to use the studio to record a new training course.

But there was a problem…

Usually, I would rent a studio for 3-4 days because it would take that long to do all the filming required for the course.

The last course we did required 16 videos and took 4 days to shoot.

This course required 28 videos.

We were running out of time before the director and camera guys even finished setting up.

I was the limiting factor in this equation.

Shooting course videos is very taxing on the brain (at least, it’s taxing on my brain).

After a few hours of shooting, I start “bonking.”

Bonking is a production term used for people who start messing up their lines and making other mistakes because they are mentally tired.

When someone starts bonking, it’s time for a break.

But we didn’t have time for breaks.

So I jumped in and started filming the course without taking any breaks.

After the fourteenth video, I thought I was going to pass out.

My mental energy was completely depleted.

Contrary to popular belief, the halfway point is not the breakthrough point when it comes to doing a difficult task.

It’s not where things get easier.

Instead, it’s where things are the hardest.

The halfway point is the hardest because it’s the point at which you have just as much in front of you as you just finished behind you.

The halfway point is the breaking point.

Luckily, I knew the halfway point was going to be hard so instead of giving in, we kept powering through the shoot.

Then, after we shot the twenty-fourth video, something surprising happened…

I suddenly realized we were well passed the twentieth video and were nearly done.

A bolt of energy shot through my body and mind.

We finished the last 5 videos faster than we finished the first 5 videos.

How To Have 240X More Mental Energy

In the 1950s, a Harvard graduate and Johns Hopkins scientist did a series of experiments that tested how long rats could swim in high-sided buckets of circulating water before giving up.

The scientist found that under normal conditions, a rat could swim for an average of 15 minutes before quitting.

But if he took the rats out of the buckets and let them rest briefly at the 15 minute mark, and then put them back into the same buckets, the rats could swim an average of — wait for it — 60 hours.

Yep, 60 hours  240 times longer.

Of course, this seems to make no sense.

How could these rats swim so much longer during a second session, especially just after swimming as long as they possibly could during the first session?

The scientist concluded that the rats were given hope.

They had a vision of what being saved looked like and they kept swimming for it.

A better conclusion is that the rats were given energy through hope, or through vision.

A rat — with a brain the size of a pea — can push through hopelessness and extend their perseverance by 240 times.

Even after they are already exhausted.

Vision provided the rats with additional resources and willpower to persevere.

Psychological Science journal published a study in agreement stating that willpower —  the ability to exercise self-control —  is not a finite resource, but rather a reflection of a person’s belief about their ability to keep going.

In short, it’s all in your head.

If you believe you can’t keep going, you’ll quit.

You’ll wave the white flag of burnout and give up.

The Journal of Research in Personality confirms that hope and vision are VERY strong predictors of willpower.

And one of the greatest predictors of success is the ability to give up short-term rewards in favor of pushing through challenges towards a bigger goal.

How to Increase Willpower | Dr. Isaiah Hankel | what is intrinsic motivation

3 Ways To Harness “Light At End Of Tunnel” Energy

Your internal motivation and energy levels have nothing to do with your circumstances and everything to do with your focus.

Were you ever working on a really long and hard project?

Or working really hard to get a job, or to buy a house, or to build a business, and you felt completely de-energized?

Every day, you would have to fight to stay motivated.

Then, one day, something happened that made you realize you were close to finishing.

And as soon as you realized this, a bolt of energy just shot through your body and you found it 10 times easier to get motivated because you knew you were almost done.

This is how people finish marathons.

This is how entrepreneurs sleep 4 hours a night for 2 years as they get their businesses off the ground.

The reason that anyone, including you, me, or the rats from the experiment will feel a rush of energy close to the finish line is because the future is more defined.

The more you define the path in front of you, the more energy you’ll have to complete it.

But the reverse is also true: the more undefined your future, or the more others are dictating your future, the more miserable you will be.

If you want to harness “light at end of tunnel” energy, you have to create a focused plan for your future.

Here are 3 ways to harness your “light at end of tunnel” energy…

1. Stop downplaying your vision for other people.

Without a compelling vision that excites you, you will lack direction.

You won’t have any focus.

You won’t have a reason to focus.

And there will be no energy to attach to it.

This is the same thing that happens when your vision is too small, or too attainable.

When you downplay your vision to make others feel more comfortable, you give away energy.

If your vision isn’t big enough and important enough, your days will be monotonous and passionless.

Like a rat swimming in a bucket, you’ll have nothing more than a survival mindset.

You’ll do what you can to survive, but you’ll never thrive.

Years will pass and you’ll go nowhere.

You’ll get lazy and settle for a mediocre life and forget all about the goals you were once so energized for.

You’ll get in the habit of checking off  your meek little daily and weekly to-do lists and calling these checkmarks accomplishments.

You’ll sell out to the false prophet of feeling busy.

Think back to when you were a kid… what did you envision for your life?

What did you want to do when your mind was open and your potential was unlimited?

How did you want to change the world when you were graduating high school and had your whole life in front of you?

Do your eyes light up as you imagine this?

Do you remember the excitement you once felt?

When you start to lose focus in life, take a look around at all of the small goals you’ve settled on and start to replace them with a bigger vision for your life.

Create a vision that inspires you and maybe even scares you a little.

Keep this vision in front of you and easily accessible.

This is your hope —  your reason WHY.

You will not get the life you want with small goals and baby dreams.

You have to grow up your vision.

Never downplay your vision for others or for yourself.

Keep it big, scary, exciting, and always in front of you.

2. Stop avoiding the big decisions in your life.

When you know what you want, your brain goes into problem-solving mode.

It lights up with ideas and creativity trying to find ways to get you what you want.

First, you get a vision for something big.

Then, your mind decides to turn your vision into a reality.

The vision leads you to that moment where you make a decision to go after what you want.

Don’t get stuck on either step.

Without making a decision, your vision will remain a daydream.

Without having a vision in the first place, the decisions you make won’t take you anywhere.

You can’t hit a target you don’t set.

Set your target first, then decide to hit it.

When you make a firm decision to commit to your vision, to fulfill your purpose, it becomes real.

Strong decisions will help you start seeing possibilities where there were none before.

Strong decisions will take you from what you want to happen to making something happen.

But you have to create a plan.

Define your vision first, then work backwards to make it a reality.

Break down your reverse engineered map into clear, measurable steps you need to take to make progress.

As you hit benchmarks along the way, celebrate them.

Let each victory fill you with a sense of growth and then use these feelings as fuel to recommit to your overall vision.

Win —  recommit —  win —  recommit — win —  recommit.

Along the way, refuse to get sucked into drama and distractions.

Starve your problems.

Your coworker gets laid off, your best friend has a baby, your brother gets married, your dog gets sick.

There will always be events that will try to steal your focus.

Learn to compartmentalize these events to prevent getting derailed from your personal goals.

You are the only one who can change your life.

You’re the only one who has to live it.

Decide to make yourself a priority.

Protect your space, get disciplined, and protect your routines.

Most importantly, be very deliberate with the people you allow into your life.

When you feel your energy levels drop, surrounding yourself with high achievers, positive motivators, and like-minded mentors will give you the boost you need to finish strong.

Their energy and positive influence will trigger your “light at end of tunnel” energy.

3. Stop trying to fight your own biology.

Willpower is your ability to control your own behavior and it relies exclusively on mental energy.

When you’re distracted, your willpower suffers.

When you’re tired, your willpower suffers.

Whenever you make a decision, your willpower suffers.

Think of willpower as a kind of instinctual override, a way to interrupt your brain’s automatic processing in order to do something else.

If you’re hungry and come upon a table of free doughnuts, the primitive part of your brain will process the event and say, “EAT!” But the more advanced decision-making part of your brain will tell you to keep walking and not take the bait.

Willpower is simply your ability to inhibit your brain’s natural inclinations. It’s your ability to make good decisions.

Willpower is part of your biology —  you can’t fight it, you can only manage it.

Reports by the Harvard Business Review and the Cambridge University Press show that you only get about 90-120 minutes of peak mental energy and 5 hours or less of near peak mental energy each day, respectively.

For the rest of the day, your mental energy levels are medium-to-low at best.

The good news is if you get enough sleep, your assets get replenished 100%.

Studies in Sleep Medicine show that the right amount of REM sleep (4-6 cycles) completely restores your mental energy each day.

This means you need to start tracking your energy levels and planning your “light at end of tunnel” moments.

It also means that you can extend your “light at end of tunnel” moments by working on key projects earlier in the day and by getting enough REM sleep.

Remember, energy is your most valuable asset.

This asset depreciates rapidly every day but can be boosted by vision, commitment, and by managing your own biology.

Your internal motivation and energy levels have nothing to do with your circumstances and everything to do with your focus. The energy in the beginning of a new vision is easily acquired but can be depleted as setbacks, failures, and obstacles appear. Without a strong vision and matching mindset, it’s easy to burn out and want to quit. Having a defined plan for your future will help you to harness the last burst of energy you need to accomplish your goals.

To learn more about how to avoid mental fatigue, improve motivation and willpower, and to get instant access to exclusive training videos, case studies, insider documents, and my private online network, get on the Escape Plan wait list.


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