“Stop the willpower madness”

Marketing efforts don’t fail. They stop. Like New Year’s Resolutions, our marketing efforts simply peter out and fade away over time.

Marketing efforts don’t fail. They stop.

They stop because we run out of resources before it works.

Sometimes we run out of money, sometimes we run out of time. But usually we just run out of patience. Enthusiasm. Motivation.

Like New Year’s Resolutions, our marketing efforts simply peter out and fade away over time.

Why? Just like resolutions, we give up prematurely because we relied on willpower. We assumed that if we wanted it bad enough, we’d be able to force ourselves to get it done.

But it really doesn’t matter how strongly we feel about something, how ardently we intend to do it.

As behavioral scientist Katy Milkman wrote in How to Change, “Evidence suggests that, surprisingly, our intentions are only loosely predictive of our behaviors.”

Intending to do something isn’t enough.

And willpower doesn’t work because willpower doesn’t exist.

“Your willpower is gone,” psychologist Benjamin Hardy wrote in Willpower Doesn’t Work. “White-knuckling your way to change doesn’t work. It never did.”

If you want to achieve your marketing or business goals, you need to give up on the idea that you can force yourself to do things you don’t like to do.

“You are who you are because of your environment. Want to change? Then change your environment,” Hardy writes.

“Stop the willpower madness already.”

And there’s a simple way to change the environment of our marketing work: We stop making it a chore we hate and we turn it into something we actually like.

We figure out, not just what we want for the long-term, but what we can do efficiently every single day.

And we make it easy. We make it fun.

“The biggest thing keeping us from doing what matters is the false assumption that it has to take tremendous effort,” Greg McKeown wrote in Effortless.

Marketing success isn’t the product of arduous effort. It’s the result of easy, fun work that we stick with.

So don’t try to carve out a day here and there to force yourself to do something you hate.

Instead, take a few minutes, today, to figure out what you can do that you like. What you can do that you find easy. What you can do that you’d do even if you knew it wasn’t going to work right away.

And come up with a structure—like a daily calendar appointment, an accountability buddy, or a simple routine—to stick with it for the long-term.

And work on it, every single day.

Not because you have to, but because you want to.

Because the danger isn’t that your marketing will fail. It’s that you’ll stop before it works.

It doesn’t take endless, enforced effort to make progress. It just takes simple steps in the right direction.

So stop the willpower madness and build a strategy—build a structure—to get what you want.

It’s not just the easiest way.

It might be only way.