So, I admit it, this book isn’t directly related to software engineering, but I think it’s an extremely useful book to have. For the very same reason John Sonmez mentioned it in his book and I mentioned his book in my blog. Because software engineers are people (gasp!) and people exercise willpower all the time. Be it regarding that decision to lose weight or the one to start doing daily online Java exercises.
I realized that my last post about a book was bloody huge (and, possibly, boring), and if you’re reading something that big - you might as well get the actual thing instead. So - change of format - I’ll keep it short and simple.
What’s the Book About?
In ‘The Willpower Instinct’ Kelly McGonigal talks about what willpower is and how to better understand that part of yourself; about the things that can affect its effectiveness - like tiredness, lack of sleep and stress. She helpfully talks about the ways of dealing with those, and some suggestions are as simple as focusing on your breathing for five minutes a day. McGonigal also covers different reasons why willpower challenges might fail, and some of those, to me, sounded extremely, ridiculously familiar.
There are ten chapters in the book and nine out of them reference a huge amount of scientific studies (the tenth is essentially an afterword), which is absolutely what I was not expecting when getting the book. I expected a cheesy self-help book that would go: ‘well if I managed this, so can you’. It doesn’t. What it also doesn’t do is patronize, it’s interesting, smart, compassionate, helpful and quite funny at times.
If you’re unsure if you’re ready to commit to reading the book, there is a pretty good Google talk by Kelly McGonigal kicking around (same subject, 54 minutes long). Check it out.