Book Review: The Willpower Instinct

Do you have willpower?

What does willpower even mean? Can you harness it or not? These were questions that sparked my interest in this new book, “The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do To Get More of It” by Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D. I thought reading this book would help kickstart my new year, help me stick to goals and be a better me in 2013. Only a few pages in, I knew this would not be a book to inspire me in that way.



This book has received some rave reviews, including many 5-star ratings on, but what initially turned me off was the dry writing. It’s based on a course taught by McGonigal at Stanford University. A few more pages in she began talking evolution and how our brains developed and changed over time. I respect many people have these views and support the evolution theory, however, I do not. That left me losing faith in McGonigal’s arguments and my hopes for the book having an impact on my life quickly diminished.

The book is not a complete let down. In addition to a mix of science, McGonigal also offers tips and her personal experience, which I could relate to much better. Many of the points and scenarios McGonigal refers to were easy for me to relate to, from being an email addict to setting oneself up for failure. Positive self talk and envisioning how one will accomplish something were tips McGonigal provided which I will use in accomplishing my goals.

For more information and discussion on “The Willpower Instinct” visit the BlogHer Book Club discussion board this week. If you do choose to read “The Willpower Instinct” for yourself, give yourself ample time, at more than 250 pages of textbook type text, it will take some. This is not a light read. I will be participating in the discussion of this book on BlogHer in hopes that others might help inspire me!


Do you believe in willpower? Does it help you meet goals?

**Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book along with a $20 stipend for my participation in this program. As a book reviewer I was encouraged to share my true thoughts about the book — and was simply asked to write a short blog post to summarize those thoughts. I personally selected to participate in this particular review because of my interest in healthy balance.

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