The science of willpower: Kelly McGonigal on why it’s so dang hard to stick to a resolution

Why is it so hard to keep New Year’s Resolutions? Read this to learn why.

TED Blog

By the second week of January, that resolution that once seemed so reasonable — go to the gym every other day, read a book a week, only drink alcohol on weekends — is starting to seem very … hard. As you are teetering on the edge of abandoning it all together, Kelly McGonigal is here to help. This Stanford University psychologist — who shared last year how you can make stress your friend — wants you to know that you’re not having a hard time sticking to a resolution because you are a terrible person. Perhaps you’ve just formulated the wrong resolution.

McGonigal has, for years, taught a course called “The Science of Willpower” through Stanford’s Continuing Studies program and, in 2011, she spun it into a book, The Willpower Instinct. The TED Blog spoke to McGonigal this week about how willpower is often misunderstood, and what we each can do…

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Live as if You’ll Die Tomorrow, Learn as if You’ll Live Forever

“Live As If You’ll Die Tomorrow, Learn As If You’ll Live Forever”

The famous quote of Mahatma Gandhi.

It’s January, so as we do every year we make new year’s resolutions, we break new year’s resolutions and in some cases we live as we’ve always lived. I’ve been a life-long advocate of goal setting, of having the most ambitious plans, of finding ways in which to stretch myself and those around me to achieve great things, to be the best we can be. But if you knew you were going to die tomorrow what would you really do? If you were going to live forever what would you want to learn?

A mostly hypothetical position until you meet someone who knows that their time with us is limited. I have the privilege of knowing Katherine Crowe http://www.katherinecrowe.co.uk/blog.html/very_proud_wife/ . I don’t know Katherine very well but she used to work with me at Barclays and is a seasoned singer, songwriter, author and so much more. Katherine is 38 years old, lives on the Isle of Man, is wife to Andy and Mum to two young kids. She also has terminal cancer. In her own words she is already nearly a year past her ‘due dead date’. She cherishes every day fuelled by the love of her family and the support of her friends.

Katherine doesn’t accept the inevitable, yet lives every day as if it might be her last. She sings and makes music. She writes books. She inspires thousands of people. She raises money for others. She plans for the future of her family. And she makes every single minute with her family count.

I have learnt so much from Katherine’s journey. About dignity, about pride, about contribution and about the power that one can take from the love of their family and an unshakeable determination to persevere.

As you set upon your path for 2014, I hope these lessons resonate with you too. Please support Katherine by buying her music, her book or contributing to her cause by clicking on http://www.katherinecrowe.co.uk/ .

Greg Ellison

Lead, follow or get out of the bloody way!

Each time MPs regroup for another session of Parliament and PM’s Questions, I find myself drawn on a weekly basis to tune in to watch the mental sparring between PM and Leader of the Opposition. I love seeing how the lead players perform under real pressure, the cut and thrust of the attacks and counter attacks, the rising noise of the parties when their leader lands a blow to their opponent. And in the background, the gormless, irritating look on Ed Balls’ face as he makes his weekly ‘flat-lining’ hand gesture to the PM. It makes for good entertainment, but does it serve any real purpose?

Inevitably, the accusation from the Opposition is centred on the Government failing to deliver growth. They’ve focused on austerity, they’ve cut too far and too fast, they don’t have a Plan B. Whether they have or they haven’t is academic in my opinion, because I’m bored, yes really bored, of almost everybody seeing growth as the job of the government. I run a small business of about 50 people and the only person I hold accountable for success or otherwise is me. Not the government, not the Bank of England, not the EU, not the ruling party or the opposition. No, it’s me. Well, and my fellow directors. And the staff. And my clients. And everyone else that has a stake in the success of my business. But it’s not the job of the government. I own my performance and I own my results.

So by the time I’m Prime Minister, I will be advocating the following:

1) If your business isn’t growing, spend time thinking about how you can make your products or services better than those of your competitors.

2) If your core market is in decline, find a way into some better growth markets. Go fishing where the fish are.

3) Model yourself on others than are more successful than you. Mirror what they do and how they do it and notice the results.

4) Take action! Throw yourself into it like your whole life depends on it. Because, you know what, it does.

5) Never, ever give up.

If you too are bored of the economy ‘flat-lining’ please share my little lecture here with others and feel free to give me a call. Maybe we can do some business together.

Greg Ellison

#leadingtheway