Why Will Won’t Work: How to make this fiery force work FOR, not AGAINST, you

That fierce engine in the pit of your belly—Will—can do a lot.

Will gets you up to feed the children after a stormy, sleepless night. Will gets you through that last semester, when the jumble of terms and grades and credits seems meaningless. Will submits the tenth job application or the forty-ninth manuscript, even though it makes no sense to Mind. Will points the car toward work because there are bills to pay and mouths to feed.

Will has one direction: forward. Whichever way you point Will, it will push and push and push. Will keeps going long after Mind and Body have called it quits. Put Will up against a mountainside and it will push…and keep pushing until it utterly exhausts itself. And the mountain won’t even notice.

My Will has served me well. When I programmed it to “get a college degree,” it found a way. It pulled me through multiple jobs AND organic chemistry, head down, eyes forward, until I crossed the finish line, paper in hand.

But then, Will kept going. Will pushed me forward like a robot, through promotions, and blind opportunity, up a dead-end road that left me ill, unfulfilled and dissatisfied. Why had Will forsaken me? Two reasons: because (a) forward is its only setting, and (b) I hadn’t redirected it.

The Beautiful Paradox

Will works for you until it works against you.

Will orients toward the future (what can be), while Mind reinforces the past (organizing what has already happened), and Body exists in the present (5 senses). These powerful forces can be at odds. The struggle to negotiate this inherent push-pull is the compelling and convoluted path of personal development.

The beautiful paradox of Will is that it can be the cause of our suffering, as well as our route back to peace. When we use Will to consciously choose—over and over again—to support increased awareness, to learn our higher capacities, to invest in habits and behaviors that lift and grow us, Will becomes a force for our good. Will works for us, but only if we choose it. This is why it’s called “Free Will.” You are free to choose it. You must choose it. Actually, you are always choosing it. Your Will is your own…what you do with it is your choice.

How to Balance and Direct the Force of Will

  • Increase self-awareness. More and more, look inside yourself to interpret your experiences. While you may not be able to control what happens to you, you are always choosing your response to it. What response are you choosing? How can you support shifting your response, little by little, in the direction of greater joy, peace and fulfillment? Point your Will in that direction.
  • Align Will with purpose. The Cheshire Cat told Alice, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any path will get you there.” (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll). If you don’t give your Will a target for your life, it will meander down any path that appeals to it in the moment. Getting clear on your purpose doesn’t mean you have to know a goal (destination); it means you need to decide what you want to experience along the way (journey). Once you program your Will for this, life gets so much easier.
  • Fall into Faith more often. There is another way to move mountains, and that is with Faith. Jesus taught, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can move a mountain (Matthew 17:20). Faith is curious knowing, peaceful acceptance. Faith is the opposite of Will, but they make good partners. Faith says, “Everything is unfolding exactly as it should.” Will joins in with, “Well then, how can we enjoy the ride?”

What would your life look like if you focused Will in the direction of your dreams?


Consider the Self-Care Summit: a high-value, evergreen resource to support permanent lifestyle shift toward sustainable self-care.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.