Do you have some personal situation you know you need to change? Many of us struggle just to change a bad habit and then we chastise ourselves for not having the willpower we need. But is “will” the important part of the change equation?

Image: Girl with Huge piece of cake

Source: Dr. Lynda

Turns out there is some great science to show we need more skill than will if we want to make permanent changes, and this EWC video-share give us a great recipe for success. Today we bring you a great TED Talk on how to change bad habits, that might give you some new insights.

As we go into the new year many of us will make a classic New Year’s resolution and we will casually laugh about our lack of confidence in ourselves. Take a look at a few more weapons to take into battle! Relax with this and soak it in. I’ll give you the crib notes at the end. Enjoy!

A fabulous bit of insight there, don’t you think?

I struggle with my weight and I can see all the elements he mentioned falling more on my side now that I can name them.

First, I love the idea of writing down some personal notes about why I need to make the changes, and I’ll keep that card handy at all times. Then I’ll do a little careful research and find out when my biggest temptations happen, and I’ll make a detailed plan for how I’ll handle those moments. I think I’ll deputize some key people to help me with through some coachable moments, and I’ll ask my husband, an amazing chef, to make some big changes to our meals in the evenings.

I think that checks off the 6 points!

Steps to change a bad habit:

Let’s review them:

  • Ramp up your motivation by taking the time to write down your most personal motivations. Keep that with you every minute.
  • Research exactly what triggers your bad habits and plan your strategy around the triggers. Follow them relentlessly.
  • Talk honestly to the people who get you in trouble, and ask for help from them.
  • Find a coach; someone to turn to if you need a pep talk or feedback. Make your project social, so you are not alone.
  • Design some ways to reward your success.
  • Change your surroundings, so good behaviors are easy and bad behaviors are very hard.
  • Stay scientific: analyze your best days and your worst days.
  • Identify your crucial moments. Know specifically how to be successful through them.
  • Spell out your vital behaviors: what behaviors are connected directly to your goal.
  • Engage all the 6 points above.
  • Learn to turn bad days into good data, by really thinking about what went wrong and why, and planning a strategy for next time.

I think this is empowering. He’s right: I don’t see very much about willpower in this plan at all. It looks much more like carefully taking apart the problem and changing individual parts so it can’t be put back together again.

I’m smart. I can do that!

I’ll stay open, curious and hopeful. You do that too!

~ Dr. Lynda


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  1. Switzler, Al. “Change Anything! Use Skillpower over Willpower: Al Switzler at TEDxFremont.” YouTube. TEDx Talks, 4 Dec. 2012. Web. 15 Dec. 2015. <>.

Dr. Lynda is a dentist, artist, global traveler, and philanthropist who looks for potential and shares it with the world. Hear her latest conversations with thought leaders on the Conspiracy of Goodness Podcast--new episodes every Wednesday!