I was recently provided the opportunity to read The Willpower Instinct by Dr. Kelly McGonigal. I have to say it was perfect timing, with the new year and various resolutions creeping up on me (PLUS, being sick for the past couple weeks and having some free time to lay around). I was super excited to get some guidance with some of those nagging resolutions for 2013, many that I carried with me through 2012. This year is my lucky year!
The author, Kelly McGonigal, PhD. is a professor at prestigious Stanford University and teaches a class entitled, “The Science of Willpower.” What I loved about this book is that Dr. McGonigal outlined this book as a professor would outline a course syllabus—in a logical, methodological way. The book does a fantastic job explaining the chemistry of the brain, scientific evidence and what exactly keeps us from reaching our all-elusive goals, year after year, no matter how badly we want to achieve them. She explains that much of our beliefs about willpower actually work to sabotage us from accomplishing what we set out to do.
I consumed this book from cover to cover, intrigued by what Dr. McGonigal had to say on the subject of willpower. I learned a lot about myself and why sometimes my strongest desires to meet goals are foiled by overwhelming desires to do what I wanted in the moment, instead of doing what would support my success. We really can take control of our lives, if we truly understand our biological functions, mental traps, and social factors that influence our self-control.
One of the things I found most fascinating, was Dr. McGonigal’s explanation of why we put our goals off until tomorrow. We, according to research, have an inherent belief that our future self will be more virtuous than our present self. She explains that we are hard-wired to prefer immediate gratification in many instances:
When we contemplate the future, our imaginations fail us in predictable ways. Far-off rewards seem less compelling, so we choose immediate gratification. We fail to predict how we will be tempted or distracted, so we fail to protect ourselves from abandoning goals. To make wiser decisions, we need to better understand and support our future selves.
I loved this book. The author speaks in easy to understand terms. She is witty and smart. I enjoyed it through and through. I found myself identifying with many of the scenarios she described in the book. I do believe that this book will be my handbook for success in the year 2013!
Disclaimer: This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own. I was compensated for my review, and received a copy of The Willpower Instinct, HOWEVER, I only recommend products and/or services I personally believe in.