How to Change
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Award-winning Wharton Professor and Choiceology podcast host Katy Milkman has devoted her career to the study of behavior change. In this ground-breaking book, Milkman reveals a proven path that can take you from where you are to where you want to be, with a foreword from psychologist Angela Duckworth, the best-selling author of Grit.
Set audacious goals. Foster good habits. Create social support. You've surely heard this advice before. If you've ever tried to change or encourage it -- to boost exercise or healthy eating, to prevent missed deadlines or kick-start savings -- then you know there are thousands of apps, books, and YouTube videos promising to help and offering sound guidance. And yet, you're still not where you want to be.
This trailblazing book from award-winning behavioral scientist and Wharton Professor Katy Milkman explains why. In a career devoted to uncovering what helps people change, Milkman has discovered a crucial thing many of us get wrong: our strategy. Change, she's learned, comes most readily when you understand what's standing between you and success and tailor your solution to that roadblock. If you want to work out more but find exercise difficult and boring, downloading a goal-setting app probably won't help. But what if, instead, you transformed your workouts so they became a source of pleasure instead of a chore? Turning an uphill battle into a downhill one is the key to success.
Drawing on Milkman's original research and the work of her dozens of world-renowned scientific collaborators, How to Change shares an innovative new approach that will help you change or encourage change in others. Through case studies, engaging stories, and examples from cutting-edge research, this book illustrates how to identify and overcome the barriers that regularly stand in the way of change. How to Change will teach you:
• Why timing can be everything when it comes to making a change
• How to turn temptation and inertia into assets that can help you conquer your goals
• That giving advice, even if it's about something you're struggling with, can help you achieve more
Whether you're a manager, coach, or teacher aiming to help others change for the better or are struggling to kick-start change yourself, How to Change offers an invaluable, science-based blueprint for achieving your goals, once and for all.
Chapter 1: Getting Started
When I first visited Google's sprawling corporate headquarters in 2012, I felt like a kid entering Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. The company's campus in Mountain View, California, boasts state-of-the-art everything, with a bit of whimsy on top. As I wound my way between office buildings, I encountered beach volleyball courts, fanciful sculptures, a gift shop stocked with branded tchotchkes, and free world-class restaurants. It was stunning.
Google had invited me and a group of other academics to its headquarters to attend a retreat for its senior human resources directors, but I couldn't help wondering what this company-one of the world's most innovative and successful-could possibly need from us. The smiling employees whizzing by on bikes painted in the primary colors of their company's logo certainly didn't look like they had any problems. Google had raked in 38 billion dollars in revenue the year before my visit.
But everyone has problems-even Google.
The company had convened the retreat to find new ways to help its employees make better decisions both at work and at home, with a particular emphasis on improving their productivity as well as their health and financial security (both of which have been linked to improved work performance). Midway through the event, Prasad Setty, a Wharton alum and Google vice president who had been in human resources for several years, asked me a seemingly innocuous question that would set me on the path to one of my most significant discoveries.
Google, he explained, offered its employees a wide range of benefits and programs designed to make their lives and jobs better and to solve such problems as undersaving for retirement, overuse of social media, physical inactivity, unhealthy eating, and smoking. But oddly enough, these programs weren't widely used. Prasad was both puzzled and frustrated that so many programs his team had created (which Google paid dearly for) went largely ignored. Why weren't employees clamoring to take advantage of free skill-building classes? Why weren't they all signing up for the company's 401(k) match and personal trainers?
Prasad had considered a few possible explanations, all of them plausible enough. Maybe the programs were being poorly advertised. Or maybe employees were just too busy to take advantage of them. But he also wondered about timing. Did I know, he asked, when Google should encourage employees to take advantage of these resources? Was there some ideal moment on the calendar or in someone's career to encourage behavior change?
I paused. Prasad's question was clearly important, and yet, to my knowledge, academics had largely overlooked it. If we hoped to effectively promote behavior change, of course we would need to understand when to begin.
Although I didn't have an easy answer for Prasad, I did have a hunch. I told him that before I could offer a reply grounded in solid evidence, I would need to review the academic literature and gather some data of my own. I started itching to get back to my research team in Philadelphia.
The Power of a Blank Slate
Prasad was hardly the first leader I'd met who was perplexed by the stubborn persistence of unhealthy or unproductive behavior. I've spent countless hours talking with frustrated public health officials about how to reduce smoking, boost physical activity, improve diets, and increase vaccinations, and that's just for starters. I often hear the same exasperated plea: If you can't persuade people to alter their behavior by telling them that change is simple, cheap, and good for them, what magical ingredient will do the trick?
This book will offer many answers to that question (the most important being "It depends"), but one is particularly relevant to Prasad's
Packed with research-backed paths to personal growth.
--NPR s Life Kit
[Filled with] practical tips that can help you reduce stress, improve your mental health and live a better life.
Simple yet profound insights.
Eloquent, substantive, and uplifting A far cry from the quick fixes and one-size-fits-all strategies described in many self-help books.
--strategy + business
A roadmap for getting from where you are to where to want to be.
--The Unmistakable Creative
A must read for anyone looking to improve their habits or their life.
--Charles Duhigg, New York Times bestselling author of The Power of Habit
If you re dreaming of a New You, start here.
--Dan Heath, New York Times bestselling co-author of Made to Stick and Switch
"Smart, pioneering and packed with the biggest breakthroughs of our decade.
--Arianna Huffington, Founder & CEO of Thrive Global
Katy Milkman is a wonder. In this book she shares all her secret sauce.
--Richard H. Thaler, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics and New York Times bestselling co-author of Nudge
An invaluable guide to success packed with insights that can help you achieve your financial and life goals.
--Charles R. Schwab
This book is like having the smartest friend in the world whispering in your ear. You ll want to send Katy Milkman a thank you note.
--Daniel H. Pink, New York Times bestselling author of When, Drive, and To Sell Is Human
A masterful tour of how behavior change works.
--David Epstein, New York Times bestselling author of Range
Everyone wants to know: What makes personal change happen and stick? Milkman uses the latest science to give us answers.
--Carol Dweck, New York Times bestselling author of Mindset
"If you want to master tailored, science-based strategies for overcoming obstacles, read this engaging book."
--Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google
An extraordinary roadmap for overcoming the greatest challenge of all becoming who we believe we should be.
--Gen. Stanley McChrystal, New York Times bestselling author of Team of Teams and Leaders
This book is a triple threat: evidence-based, engrossing, and full of effective strategies for making smarter choices.
--Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Think Again and host of the TED podcast WorkLife
If your goal is to get better, or to make your teams or business better, READ THIS BOOK.
--Laszlo Bock, CEO of Humu, former Google SVP of People, and New York Times bestselling author of Work Rules!
A healthy lifestyle is not illusive; this book is a must read to understand the path to create lasting change.
--Tony Ueber, CEO of 24 Hour Fitness
Brilliant. Personal. And best of all, actionable. A highlight reel of what scientists know about how to change behavior for good.
--Angela Duckworth, New York Times bestselling author of Grit
Milkman does a masterful job of translating science to action.
--Gary Foster, Chief Scientific Officer at WW
A remarkably useful survey of the behavior change revolution. Milkman tells us what works, what doesn t, and why.
--Stephen J. Dubner, New York Times bestselling co-author of Freakonomics and host of Freakonomics Radio
You owe it to yourself to read this book from cover to cover.
--Steve Levitt, New York Times bestselling co-author of Freakonomics
Katy Milkman not only delivers the most cutting edge science on change, she also makes you feel like she is by your side cheering you on. A must read for anyone who wants to remake their life for the better.
--Annie Duke, bestselling author of Thinking in Bets and How to Decide
"This is your chance. When you're ready to change, when you are committed to change, this delightful book will help you turn your intentions into reality."
--Seth Godin, author of This is Marketing
Plenty of books offer advice on how to overcome common personal barriers but none as clearly, engagingly, and compellingly as this.
--Robert Cialdini, New York Times bestselling author of Influence and Pre-Suasion
Packed with clever insights, cool experiments, and deep science, this book is engaging, important, and oh-so valuable.
--Nicholas A. Christakis, MD, PhD, New York Times bestselling author of Blueprint and Apollo s Arrow
From this book, you will not only gain insight into your own behavior, but will be inspired to create your own fresh start.
--Wendy Wood, author of Good Habits, Bad Habits
"A much-needed, easy-to-follow instruction manual for understanding what stops you from achieving your personal goals and how you can do better."
--Laurie Santos, host of The Happiness Lab podcast
"This extraordinary guide left me with that magical feeling that change is possible."
--Dolly Chugh, author of The Person You Mean to Be and Jacob B. Melnick Term Professor at NYU Stern School of Business
You will learn, grow, and be inspired by the personal accounts and engaging research highlighting the science of behavior change. This book is a must read!
--Modupe Akinola, Associate Professor of Management at Columbia Business School and Host of the TED Business Podcast