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Willpower Doesn't Work by Benjamin Hardy - 3 Big Ideas

Updated: Mar 27, 2019

Team up with your surroundings to make your procrastination reflex rue the day it decided to get in the way of your future.

In this week’s show:

  • Why you are what you eat

  • How to accomplish your BIG goals

  • How to make your best choices, your only choices


This book is making the rounds. It’s the #1 new release in personal time management on Amazon - It’s got 4.8/5 stars and over 200 reviews already - and it’s receiving praise from people like: Adam Grant, Ellen Langer and Jeff Goins.

So what are 3 things we can use from this book?

3 Things You Can Use

1. What your environment is and how it controls you

“Alright, time to get to work!”

Facebook. Twitter.

“Here we go! Working time!”

Candy crush.

“Worko time-o!”

“Well… snack break.”

Can’t get down to work? Or can only spend ten minutes at a time?

You may think to yourself that you’re the worst. Can’t ever do squat.

But Benjamin Hardy, the author of this book, says that you aren’t to blame for your productivity inadequacies.

It’s not you. It’s the environment that you are in.

Sounds simple… right?

Yeah well it is simple.

The information you consume. The people you surround yourself with. The places you go. The experiences you have.

Every environment has rules. Don’t let your environment oppose your goals.

The environment that has you checking your phone and carbing out every time you are trying to do your work is that way because you have designed it that way.

But how do I design my environment…

Shhhh… we’ll get there.

So don’t be like other people and reactively respond to your environment. Shape it - because, after all, every environment has a role, whether we have designed it in there or not. Dr. Marshall Goldsmith says, “If we do not create and control our environment – our environment creates and controls us.”

2. How to accomplish big goals


You take a bunch of fleas and put them in a jar.

Fleas like to jump, so they jump.

Put a top on the jar and all the fleas jumps are capped to a certain height.

Now, once the fleas have been conditioned to this jumping height, they won’t jump any higher – until they are placed with other fleas in taller jars.

See where this is going?

You are a flea. You should avoid the short jumpers and bounce with the high fliers.

But how do I know who the high fliers are?

Good question. And – to toot Benjamin Hardy’s horn – good answer.

You know that feeling when you dip your toe into the pool, then slowly submerge yourself, progressively freezing every inch of you all the way up to your neck?

That’s not a very efficient way to get into the pool. You stress about it way to long. You prolong the pain of getting in. And you have it top of mind when you could be thinking about pool noodles or diving tricks.

Jump in. Your body adapts very quickly and soon enough the pool feels great.

This is how Benjamin Hardy suggests you attack your big goals.

Yeah but I asked you how do I know who the high fliers are…

Yes I know. I’m about to get to the answer.

Learn on the job. Learn through doing.

Jump into the pool of your goals… then… see who else is in the pool.

Talk to the people that are pursuing similar goals.

The ones who are already there can help you a lot, and maybe you even end up with a mentor, and the ones who are just getting started can be your flea pals as you both learn to jump higher.

3. No room for failure

Now that you’ve got people to impress and ideals to live up to – you better not mess this up.

You need your environment on your side.

And - there are two big things to apply to get the most out of your environment.

- Subtraction

- Triggers


You’ve done subtraction before.

Remember that time when you said, “That’s it!” and once and for all deleted all the games off your phone?

You eliminated distractions.

Remove the things that conflict with your decisions.

Make the environment your sacred space.

Remember that your goals that are worth more to you than a short term dopamine burst.

Leave your phone downstairs if you don’t want to be on it in bed. Leave your laptop at work if you don’t want to work at home. Block distracting websites. Delete the games off your phone.

When smokers are on an airplane they generally don’t get the urge to smoke – because it’s not an option.

Keeping your options open often gives you more opportunity to rationalize quitting on your goals for the day and blasting yourself with pointless, short-term hits of dopamine.

Make sure that the behavior you want to do is something you have to do, so when, at the end of your day and your willpower is dead, you aren’t swept off to idiot dopamine land. Because at the end of that rainbows no pot of gold. It’s a pot of…


Subtraction is not enough.

You and I both know our brains are darn good at coming up with other things to do while we’re working – and convincing us they must be done.

“We can’t work right now! We’re starving!”

“No way we’re getting anything accomplished in a mood like this. We need a boost!”

“Would you look at that. There’s dust over there. We can’t focus now! We gotta clean!”

But you must outsmart your brain.

Anticipate. You know what your brain will want to do. Cut it off at the pass.

Create an If/Then response.

While I’m working:

If my brain tells me to go carb up, then I will do five pushups.

If it tells me to play a game, then I will close my eyes and count to ten.

Or if my brain tells me I have to go clean, then I will write, “leave me alone, brain” ten times

Benjamin Hardy recommends that you write down your goal, write down the potential obstacles and then write down good premeditated responses to the obstacles, for this to work best.

Keep it simple. Practice it outside of the situation. And build confidence and self-trust throughout the process.

Willpower only works at surface level.

“if you follow any attempts at willpower to their logical conclusions, it will lead to ruin. Eventually and always a person will be forced to either adapt to their environment or entirely change it”


Your environment always has rules. You can be the product of the rules or the rules can be your product.

Don’t ease into the pool. Jump in, learn on the job and go swim with the big fish.

Don’t leave any room for failure. Control your environment by removing bad influences and premeditating your responses.

This was one heck of a useful book - and different from the usual kind of book. It’s got extremely high ratings on Amazon.

It’s definitely worth it.

As you may have noticed we just got to 200 subscribers. That means at least 200 people thought, “Yeah I guess I can listen to that dumb guy talk as long as I get to look at that cute baby.”

Thank you all so much for supporting what we do!

If you would like to leave us a suggestion for what book you’d like us to review next, leave it as a comment!

Thanks again, so much, for watching!

If you’re not one of our friends already, subscribe so you don’t miss next week’s video and-

We’ll see you next week!


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Punching Sounds by: Mike Koenig

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