Willpower Doesn’t Work: Discover the Hidden Keys to Success — Benjamin Hardy, PhD

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On my journey to becoming a better writer, I had the pleasure of crossing paths with Benjamin Hardy who gave a presentation at a writers’ workshop I was attending last November — and he kindly gave away some proof copies of his new book Willpower Doesn’t Work (WPDW). Since then I’ve been applying some of its strategies and the early results are very promising. And now everyone can benefit because Benjamin’s book came out in March.

“You’re Not Bound By Your Past, But You Should Honour It”

WPDW challenges the notion that the only way to succeed is by having a phenomenal force of will, i.e. willpower. However, this carefully crafted book demonstrates from countless research, case studies and some of Benjamin’s own, and at times, very personal, experiences that changing our environments is the way to success. And when we do step into new environments we will become the product of that changed setting. Therefore, we are not the sole cause of our success — it’s the right surroundings that help us to evolve effectively.

And because we are all capable of changing our environments the ideas in the book dispel the myth that people from less privileged backgrounds cannot succeed relative to those who are predisposed to more opportunities.

The first part of the book challenges us to consider why, even with our best efforts, we are not producing results and living the lives we desire — in a nutshell, it’s because our environments are often counterproductive to achieving our goals.

“Endure The Pain Enjoy The Gain”

We’re taught the more effort or determination we put into something the more we’ll get out, right? No, wrong. According to WPDW, we need to orchestrate our situations [create enriched ones] in order to take control. And changing the environment of your mindset is just as important as your physical one.

Once armed with this insight the book powerfully builds by showing in very practical ways how the smallest of changes in behaviour and surroundings can create powerful shifts in your life. Therefore, unlike many other self-help books that may put you on a crazy diet or send you off on a Yoga retreat, you can start applying its advice from day one. The challenge is to step away from the common consensus of beliefs, habits and surroundings. For example, Benjamin argues that by doing the following you can create change for the better (this is not an exhaustive list, I’ve picked the ones that resonated most with me):

· Embracing uncertainty

· Installing accountability

· Making a commitment in public

· Rotate your working environments

· Embrace interdependence

After reading the chapters dedicated to these undertakings I had a further insight: being average is easy, too easy.

 The language of the book is clean, coherent and its strategies are straightforward to understand. However, what really made me continue turning its pages is because of Benjamin’s example. He is applying much of what he writes about. His early story is of a directionless youth from a broken home. However, through years of education, reading, life experience and an unorthodox change of environment at the age of twenty, he has rewritten his life. Benjamin is now the most successful writer on medium.com, was recently awarded his PhD and is receiving high praise for his book. In fact, the advance from his publishers would make most established authors weep with envy.

“If You Got Fat The Instant You Ate Ice Cream, You Probably Wouldn’t Eat It”

The final part of the book is where the practicalities come into play, as it encourages the reader to consider various environments, tactics and strategies that may work best for them. And just as importantly it considers techniques to avoid self-sabotage. You might call it a very thorough checklist of sorts.

 One of its strategies has helped me achieve a major goal. I recently submitted the manuscript for my first novel to my editor ahead of the deadline. I’ve always been bad with deadlines and this was one of my toughest projects yet — all 67,000 words of it. So how did I achieve this? I applied the principle of accountability.


I had good intentions in making my deadline but I applied an external layer of pressure by asking various groups and individuals to hold me accountable to the deadline. I announced the deadline to my girlfriend, close friends and a close-knit writers’ group and asked them all for their support in meeting it. Suddenly I’d set high expectations from people who I admired and I felt there was no way I could let them down. Not only would it have been embarrassing, it would have felt disingenuous. It turned out to be a great experience as they spurred me on and congratulated me upon hitting the deadline.

 The main problem with self-improvement books is that once you’ve read them, that is that, and it’s easy to forget and apply their teachings. However, Mr Hardy has thought of a way around this and has created a Facebook group for devotees to share their experiences of applying the book’s strategies.


Time will tell if it all works for me but how many people do you know who have started writing a book but have never finished it, let alone got it to an editor ahead of time?

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