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How to Change
Cover of How to Change
How to Change
The Science of Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be
Borrow Borrow
Wall Street Journal bestseller
“A welcome revelation.” —The Financial Times
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.
Change 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 world-renowned scientific collaborators, How to Change shares strategic methods for identifying and overcoming common barriers to change, such as impulsivity, procrastination, and forgetfulness. Through case studies and engaging stories, you’ll learn:

    Why timing can be everything when it comes to making a change
    How to turn temptation and inertia into assets
    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.
Wall Street Journal bestseller
“A welcome revelation.” —The Financial Times
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.
Change 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 world-renowned scientific collaborators, How to Change shares strategic methods for identifying and overcoming common barriers to change, such as impulsivity, procrastination, and forgetfulness. Through case studies and engaging stories, you’ll learn:

    Why timing can be everything when it comes to making a change
    How to turn temptation and inertia into assets
    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.
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  • From the book

    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...

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How to Change
The Science of Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be
Katy Milkman
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