1. Read ASAP! · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Psychology · Self Improvement

BR 125: Willpower by Roy Baumeister

Category: 1 – Read ASAP! (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments: Seriously brilliant book by the grand daddy of Willpower research. Top draw research that has changed the way we look at will power and self control.

Highly recommended.

Top 3 learnings:

1. Will power is like a muscle. There is only so much reserve we have until we recharge. That reserve is what we tap into for various activities in a day – primarily in the categories of resisting temptations and doing things that we don’t want to do that are generally good for us.

For example, we extract will power out of this reserve to resist a delicious chocolate snack as well as to keep patience while interacting with a frustrating co-worker.

2. Ego depletion is a serious issue. The depletion of this will power reserve results in ego depletion. Ego depletion is interesting – all of a sudden we lose self control and hit the “what the hell” effect. As a result, we suddenly irrationally indulge. So, if we hit ego depletion while on a diet, we suddenly go on a crazy binge.

Ego depletion explains why important people often make really stupid decisions in their personal life – sex scandals, etc. Decision making plays havoc with will power and ego depletion results in indulgence.

So, how do we prevent ego depletion? a) Food at regular intervals as glucose is critical to will power b) Sleep – the only long term recharge available!

(Ego depletion is what is referred to in the quote “things will look better in the morning”)

3. The best use of will power is to form habits.

Let’s take an example – I want to exercise every morning before I get to work. It’s not sustainable to keep using will power every day as I’ll start the day with very little in reserve. Instead, I ought to use the will power to create a cue, habit and reward to create a sustainable exercise habit. Once this is done, I won’t have to worry about exercise since it becomes an automatic process.

This explains what successful people do well. They use their will power reserves wisely to create great habits!

(See our learnographic for a summary)

2 thoughts on “BR 125: Willpower by Roy Baumeister

  1. “Focus on one project at a time”

    “When people have to make a big change in their lives, their efforts are undermined if they are trying to make other changes as well. People who are trying to quit smoking, for example, will have their best shot at succeeding if they aren’t changing other behaviors at the same time”


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