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How to Change summary

Katy Milkman

The Science of Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be

4.4 (364 ratings)
18 mins

Brief summary

How to Change by Katy Milkman is a practical guide to achieving personal goals. It explores the science of motivation and offers actionable tips on how to overcome obstacles, create good habits, and stay on track towards success.

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    How to Change
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    A fresh start can make it easier to change.

    Are you the type of person who makes New Year’s resolutions? Lots of us do. 

    No matter how heavy the previous night’s celebrations were, January 1 is almost always a hopeful day. There’s something about ringing in a fresh twelve months, and ringing out the old, that makes daunting plans seem feasible and past mistakes seem far away. 

    But some people are skeptical about New Year’s resolutions. After all, why would a diet succeed in January when it failed in December? Isn’t it silly to think that starting a new year will suddenly make your goals easier to achieve?

    Well, there’s an answer to that question.

    The key message here is: A fresh start can make it easier to change.

    It’s not superstitious to think that it’s easier to pursue our goals in the new year – it’s true. In fact, this rule doesn’t just apply in early January, but after any kind of milestone or fresh start – like a birthday, the start of a new semester, or the Monday of any run-of-the-mill week.

    That’s what the author and her colleagues discovered when they looked at data from campus fitness centers. But why? Why do certain dates motivate us so effectively?

    In a word, a fresh start changes our perspective. It puts distance between our previous, failed attempts at change and the new one we’re about to make. It wipes the slate clean.

    That’s why some dates are more effective than others for motivating change – the bigger the milestone, the more encouraged we feel. But it’s not all good news. A fresh start can certainly trigger change – but not all change is for the better.

    Two separate studies that focused on gym-going among undergraduate students noticed that holiday breaks can cause problems. The break certainly provided a fresh start, but the only change it triggered was a disruption in the students’ new, healthy routines.

    So what’s the lesson? It’s simple. Watch out for fresh starts like birthdays, new semesters, and anniversaries, and make sure to capitalize on them by undertaking something new – but be careful you don’t backslide on your old, established routines.

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    What is How to Change about?

    How to Change (2021) is a simple guide to overcoming the obstacles that prevent you from achieving your goals. It diagnoses our most persistent problems, from laziness to impulsivity, and presents a number of research-backed solutions to each one.

    How to Change Review

    How to Change by Katy Milkman (2021) is a book that explores the science behind successfully achieving personal goals and making positive changes in our lives. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With its practical strategies and evidence-based approaches, it provides readers with actionable tools to implement lasting change.
    • The book combines insightful research findings and intriguing case studies to demonstrate the effectiveness of different change strategies.
    • Through engaging storytelling and relatable examples, it keeps readers captivated, ensuring that the topic of change never becomes dull or boring.

    Who should read How to Change?

    • Serial procrastinators who can never get things done
    • Anyone whose bad habits interfere with their aims
    • People who’ve lost confidence in their ability to change

    About the Author

    Katy Milkman is a researcher in the field of behavioral economics, and she holds a professorship at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. How to Change is her first book.

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    How to Change FAQs 

    What is the main message of How to Change?

    The main message of How to Change is that change is possible and can be achieved through small steps and strategic decision-making.

    How long does it take to read How to Change?

    The reading time for How to Change varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes several hours. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is How to Change a good book? Is it worth reading?

    How to Change is a valuable read for anyone looking to make positive changes in their lives. It offers practical strategies and insights to help achieve personal growth.

    Who is the author of How to Change?

    The author of How to Change is Katy Milkman.

    What to read after How to Change?

    If you're wondering what to read next after How to Change, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • The Discomfort Zone by Marcia Reynolds
    • Build for Tomorrow by Jason Feifer
    • Maybe You Should Talk To Someone by Lori Gottlieb
    • The Power to Change by Campbell Macpherson
    • Eat to Beat Depression and Anxiety by Drew Ramsey
    • Atomic Habits by James Clear
    • The Perfectionist's Guide to Losing Control by Katherine Morgan Schafler
    • The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins
    • Limitless by Jim Kwik
    • Procrastinate on Purpose by Rory Vaden