The Science of Willpower

Secrets for self-control without suffering

Autopsy of the Abandoned New Year's Resolution

The five mistakes we make in pursuing our goals.

Last week I gave a talk to the Stanford Professional Women group on five ways we break or abandon New Year's resolutions -- or otherwise find ourselves not doing what we say we will, and sabotaging our own goals. For each mistake we make, I describe some of the science behind why we make it, and a simple solution for avoiding it.

Check out the first part of the talk below, and follow the link to see the entire talk plus Q&A. The five mistakes I discuss include:

1. Using guilt and shame as motivation.

2. Using good behavior to justify bad behavior.

3. Mistaking wanting for happiness.

4. Trying to control our inner experiences of thoughts, cravings, and emotions instead of our actions.

5. Thinking of our future selves as a stranger.


Find a Therapist

Search for a mental health professional near you.


Watch the full video on you tube here

Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D., is a health psychologist at Stanford University.


Subscribe to The Science of Willpower

Current Issue

Let It Go!

It can take a radical reboot to get past old hurts and injustices.