While 2012 is still visible in the rear-view mirror, let’s take a look at a trio of books about willpower published, and/or publicized, in 2012. If you feel poor in willpower, you will get rich quick from perusing these three engaging and helpful books. Bulleted tips will help you decide which one(s) might be useful for your personal willpower challenge.
The phrase “willpower challenge” is from Dr. Kelly McGonigal. McGonigal, a fellow PT blogger, has written The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It. McGonigal teaches a 10-week course, “The Science of Willpower,” at Stanford University; her 10-chapter book mirrors that course, complete with willpower experiments and chapter summaries. McGonigal combines a deep grounding in the willpower research with a compassionate and light-hearted take on our struggles with ourselves as we strive to reach goals that matter. The three skills that, in her view, serve as the foundation of willpower are: (1) self-awareness; (2) self-care; and (3) remembering the goals or values that matter most to you.
Takeaway tips from The Willpower Instinct:
If you wish you could take a fun and helpful class about willpower, read this book. Wish granted!
Super-researcher Roy Baumeister, with science writer John Tierney, has co-authored Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength. Baumeister’s research is the source of the much-discussed idea that willpower is a limited resource. According to this theory, willpower is like a muscle which tires with over-use. Willpower, decision-making, and being nice when you don’t want to all drain the same cognitive pool in the short run. But in the long run, practicing willpower, like exercising your muscles regularly, will strengthen it.
One practical benefit of this view of willpower is that it helps you set priorities. If you only have so much willpower energy on a given day, how do you want to spend that energy? Once you decide, you can budget your willpower and spend it where you need it the most.
Takeaway tips from Willpower:
Baumeister and Tierney’s willpower insights are embedded in riveting stories of personal transformation. Unputdownable!
The Power of Habit,
The Power of Habit,by Charles Duhigg, is now a habitual resident on the New York Times best-seller list. Duhigg also stresses that the best way to strengthen willpower is to make it into a habit. To do this, know the habit loop—the cues that trigger your habit, your resulting habit routine, and the rewards you get from your habit. Duhigg argues that you can change a habit successfully by keeping the cues and rewards the same, while changing the routine. This model seems too simple to me, in part because it ignores the "why" of a person's habit change, but Duhigg’s talent for story-telling makes his argument very persuasive.
Takeaway tips from The Power of Habit:
I love books which are both worthwhile AND entertaining, and these three books all fit that bill admirably. I’ve bought them all for my “willpower collection," and I recommend them all to you.
Now, off to get--or give--a LATTE!
(c) Meg Selig
Meg Selig is the author of a classic willpower book, Changepower! 37 Secrets to Habit Change Success (Routledge, 2009), and a habit change curriculum. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.
McGonigal, K. The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It (Avery, 2012).
Baumeister, R.F. & Tierney, J. Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength (Penguin Press, 2011).
Duhigg, C. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business (Random House, 2012).