The Willpower Instinct | Kelly McGonigal | Talks At Google

Reference: Talks at Google. (2012, February 01). The Willpower Instinct | Kelly McGonigal | Talks at Google [Video]. YouTube.

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Discover how to unlock the power of your willpower with Kelly McGonigal's groundbreaking course and book, The Willpower Instinct.

This video, The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal, is a Talks at Google presentation that explores how our beliefs and understanding of willpower can be wrong. In the talk, McGonigal, a health psychologist at Stanford University and the author of the book, "The Willpower Instinct," discusses the challenges of life, from healthier lifestyles to productivity, and how we can accomplish our goals. She provides five experiments that use small interventions to shape people's behavior and have large outcomes. She also provides tips for improving sleep and reducing stress, which can help us to make better decisions and increase our willpower.

Learning Outline

Main Points to Learn from Video:

1. Willpower challenges are competitions between two parts of the self - one part wanting immediate gratification and the other part having longer-term goals.
2. Practicing mindfulness meditation can increase sleep time from 7 to 8 hours.
3. An experiment involving students in a substance abuse recovery program found that daily meditation reduced cravings for drugs.
4. A study involving elderly individuals found that writing down goals can increase the likelihood of achieving them.
5. A study involving overweight individuals found that imagining their ideal selves can improve their ability to make healthier food choices.
6. Being in a positive mood can increase the ability to make better choices.
7. Making mistakes can provide an opportunity for self-compassion and to increase the resilience to continue making better choices.

Instructional Content

The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal and her talk at Google is an inspiring exploration of willpower, the power of choice, and how to make the most of our own internal strength. Drawing from her experience teaching the Science of Willpower at Stanford University, McGonigal provides practical advice and scientific insight into the ways we can better understand and optimize our willpower.

McGonigal begins her talk by encouraging the audience to share examples of willpower challenges they faced that day, including getting up on time, washing the dishes, and making healthy lunch choices. From this, she defines willpower as a competition between two versions of ourselves and explains that depending on our mindset, energy, and stress levels, our brain will approach the challenge differently.

McGonigal then shares five experiments from her book. The first experiment involves a sleep intervention, where she encourages participants in a substance abuse recovery program to do mindful meditation to increase their sleep time. The results showed that just a few minutes of meditation per day increased their sleep time by over an hour.

The second experiment is the power of "if-then" planning. McGonigal explains that by planning ahead and having a plan in place (i.e. “If X happens, then I will do Y”) can help us make better decisions in the moment. The third experiment is about the power of distraction, and how taking short breaks can help us focus and make better decisions. The fourth experiment is about the power of being mindful, and how being aware of our emotions, thoughts, and feelings can help us make better decisions in the moment. The fifth experiment is about the power of environment, and how the people we surround ourselves with can have an effect on our willpower.

McGonigal’s talk at Google provides valuable insight into the power of choice and the science behind willpower. By understanding how our brains process willpower challenges, we can be better equipped to make better decisions in the future. Through her experiments, McGonigal shows us how to make the most of our own inner strength and make decisions that better align with our goals.


"Unlock Productivity: Willpower"

Motivation is a crucial factor in productivity. To ensure that learners remain motivated, it is important to ensure that tasks are challenging yet achievable and that learners have the tools they need to succeed. This includes making sure tasks are well-defined and that learners have access to the right resources, such as relevant information, materials, or people. It is also important to set realistic goals and provide feedback and guidance along the way. Additionally, recognizing and rewarding progress can provide an additional source of motivation.

Performance optimization is key to improving productivity. This includes optimizing the task itself, setting the right expectations, breaking down tasks into smaller, manageable parts, and properly allocating resources. Additionally, optimizing the environment can provide a boost in productivity. This includes providing a quiet, distraction-free workspace and ensuring that the space is comfortable and ergonomic.

Courage and perseverance are essential for completing challenging tasks. This requires learners to be able to manage their emotions and remain focused on the task at hand, even when it is difficult. To foster courage and perseverance, it is important to help learners develop a growth mindset, which will enable them to deal with difficult tasks and setbacks. Additionally, providing support and guidance can help learners feel more confident and empowered to take on difficult tasks.

By taking into account the specific scenarios and providing a comprehensive guide to improving productivity, learners can have the tools they need to stay motivated, optimize their performance, and develop the courage and perseverance needed to succeed. With the right strategies and guidance, learners can increase their productivity and reach their goals.


"Unlock Motivation's Secrets?"

Willpower is a key ingredient to success in both personal growth and professional development. It’s the ability to control one’s thoughts and actions, resisting short-term temptations in favor of long-term goals. In her video, Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist at Stanford University and author of “The Willpower Instinct,” outlines the importance of understanding the science of willpower in order to achieve success.

McGonigal uses the example of a competition between two parts of the self in order to explain how willpower works: “There may be a part of you that really wants to eat a candy bar for your snack and then there’s a part of you that actually has some longer-term goals, you’re thinking health, you’re thinking weight loss, you’re thinking bikini season, whatever, and maybe the banana seems like the better snack.”

Research has shown that willpower is a valuable tool in achieving goals. In one study, participants who practiced mindfulness meditation to improve their sleep saw a 25% increase in the amount of time they slept and a 15% increase in self-reported willpower. In addition, participants in the study also reported an increase in their ability to pass up tempting, unhealthy snacks.

McGonigal’s video provides an important reminder that small changes can have a big impact on our ability to resist temptation. By understanding the science of willpower, we can set ourselves up for success in our personal and professional lives. Taking the time to focus on self-care and making small, mindful choices will help us stay on track to reach our goals.

Performance Optimization

Maximize Performance?

The Willpower Instinct video and transcript by Kelly McGonigal discusses how we can use our willpower to achieve our goals. In the video, McGonigal talks about how our brains are wired to have two minds, which often have competing goals. This means that it can be difficult to be successful when it comes to achieving our goals. Willpower is the ability to control our thoughts and actions to stay on track.

McGonigal discussed examples of willpower challenges such as getting up on time, washing the dishes, and doing yoga for back pain. She also suggested that it’s important to recognize that there are two competing parts of ourselves and to understand how our brains are wired to respond to these challenges. She noted that small interventions such as mindfulness meditation can have a large impact on our willpower.

Interestingly, the video discussed research that showed that sleep deprivation can have a major impact on our ability to make good decisions. Those with less sleep had a harder time resisting temptations and making good choices. This highlights the importance of getting enough sleep in order to be successful in achieving our goals.

McGonigal’s advice can help us understand why willpower is so important and how to increase our willpower. When we have the right tools and knowledge, we can successfully accomplish our goals. With the right strategies, we can use our willpower to achieve our goals, no matter how challenging they may seem.

Courage and Perseverance

Can Willpower Conquer Fear?

Over the years, success has become increasingly linked to an individual’s level of courage and perseverance. Anyone striving for a better life must be willing to work hard and stay focused on the goals that matter most. In her video “The Willpower Instinct”, Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist at Stanford University, explains how becoming aware of our willpower challenges can help us achieve greater success.

McGonigal’s research showed that small, but meaningful interventions in our day-to-day lives can have a big impact. For example, she found that a mindfulness meditation training program increased sleep minutes per night from 7 to just over 8 hours for people in a substance abuse recovery program. This seemingly small change had a major impact on their willpower and ability to stay on track.

McGonigal also found that willpower is a skill that can be developed, and it’s not just a matter of having a strong will or self-control. She suggests that in order to develop this skill, we need to understand the biology of our brains, and how stress and fatigue can impact our ability to make decisions. It’s also important to create an environment that supports our goals and rewards our progress.

By making ourselves aware of the science behind willpower, we can make better decisions and become more successful. This requires courage, as we need to push ourselves past our comfort zone and persevere even when it’s difficult. Courage and perseverance are essential skills that allow us to unlock our full potential and create a better future for ourselves.

For Learners

Watching Kelly McGonigal’s video, The Willpower Instinct, will positively benefit you in many ways. It can help you understand how to effectively manage and control your willpower in order to accomplish goals and make better decisions. You will learn how to identify the two different parts of yourself that compete for the same goal and how to make the right choice. Additionally, you will gain insight into how your mindset, energy and stress levels can affect your willpower. By watching this video and learning the content, you can gain the tools necessary to make positive and healthy lifestyle choices.

From a personal standpoint, watching this video can help you become more productive, reach your goals more easily, and gain a better understanding of yourself and your willpower. Professionally, you will gain the skills necessary to make better decisions, stay focused on goals, and have better control over your emotions.

It is also important to consider the negative side of not watching this video. If you do not watch this video, you may not have the knowledge or skills necessary to make the right choices and accomplish your goals. You may be more likely to give in to temptations and have difficulty staying focused and motivated. You may also find yourself feeling overwhelmed or stressed when faced with a willpower challenge.

By using the ‘what’s in it for me’, ‘what’s in it for them’, ‘what’s in it for us’, and ‘what’s in it for the world’ approach to learning the content of this video, you will benefit both personally and professionally. You will gain the insight and skills needed to make better decisions and stay focused on your goals. Additionally, you will be able to help others by sharing the knowledge and skills you learned from this video. In the end, everyone can benefit from having better control over their willpower and making the right choices.

For Employers

Watching the video “The Willpower Instinct | Kelly McGonigal | Talks at Google” and reading the transcript are valuable activities for employers. Willpower is an essential skill for success in the workplace, and Kelly McGonigal’s research and teachings can be used to help employers and employees alike. By understanding the two minds we have within us and how to manage them, employers can help their team to become more productive, stay motivated, and make better decisions. Employers can also further differentiate themselves from their competitors by demonstrating a deeper understanding of willpower and how to apply it to everyday tasks. Lastly, by understanding the science of willpower, employers can create a more positive image for their clients and customers, leading to increased trust and loyalty. In short, employers who watch this video and learn the concepts within it will be well-positioned for success in the future.

Career Path

Completing a course on Productivity based on competencies such as Motivation, Performance Optimization, and Courage and Perseverance can help kickstart your career. It can help you gain the essential skills and knowledge needed to become more employable, promotable, and purposeful.

Leveling up your Productivity skills by watching the Willpower Instinct video by Kelly McGonigal and reading her transcript will help you understand the importance of willpower and how it can help you achieve your goals. The video will provide you with strategies to help you keep your willpower challenges in check and enable you to make the best decisions for your career. It will equip you with the tools to stay motivated and reach your goals. You will also gain a better understanding of how to manage stress and stay focused on your success.

By completing this course, you can gain career-defining credentials that will put you ahead of the competition and show employers your commitment to your career. You will be armed with knowledge on how to optimize your performance, keep your motivation high, and stay resilient no matter the obstacles.

This course is invaluable to life-long learners who want to gain the skills and knowledge needed to make a successful transition into the new economy. It will help bridge the Skills Gap and put you on the path to Meaningful Work in high demand and high growth industries. So take the plunge and sign up for the course today to gain these career-defining credentials!


"Nothing is impossible, the word itself says 'I'm possible'!" - Audrey Hepburn

This quote by Audrey Hepburn highlights the power in believing in ourselves and our ability to accomplish our goals. As Kelly McGonigal explains in her talk at Google, willpower is not just about sheer determination and strength; it is also about understanding our own capabilities and believing that we can achieve our goals. The Science of Willpower teaches us that small interventions, such as a mindfulness meditation practice, can have big impacts and help us to achieve our objectives. For employers and learners, understanding the power of willpower can help to improve productivity, focus, and motivation. With the right tools and mindset, anything is possible!


Key takeaway: Mindfulness meditation can help to improve sleep time, even for those with serious willpower challenges.

The Willpower Instinct | Kelly McGonigal | Talks at Google

Going through life can often be hard, like trying to climb a mountain. To make it to the top, you need willpower. Kelly McGonigal is a health psychologist and author who teaches at Stanford University. She created a course called the Science of Willpower and it became popular. She discusses how having the right mindset and understanding willpower can help you achieve goals like having a healthier lifestyle and getting things done. She uses small experiments to show how even the smallest changes can have large outcomes. So if you need help to get up the mountain, Kelly's got your back!

Video Quotes

1. “A willpower challenge is anything where those two versions of yourself have competing goals.” ~Kelly McGonigal

2. “People didn't just need to know what is the right thing to do or what is the healthy thing to do, they needed to feel like this person. And they needed to know how to be that person as the default rather than walking around always feeling like they had to resist this core self that only wants immediate gratification or never wants to do anything difficult.” ~Kelly McGonigal

3. “Just doing a little bit of meditation every day, breath focus meditation, increased sleep time to just over 8 hours a day and the control group had a little bit of deterioration.” ~Kelly McGonigal

Related Quotes

"Willpower is the power to do what matters most, even when it's difficult." - Kelly McGonigal

"Willpower is actually a skill, not a trait." - Kelly McGonigal

"What we are really trying to do with willpower is to line up our behavior with our values." - Kelly McGonigal


1. Motivation
2. Performance Optimization
3. Courage and Perseverance

Learning Outcomes

1. Analyze the effects of a sleep intervention and mindfulness meditation on the ability to resist a willpower challenge (e.g. addiction).

2. Evaluate the link between mindset and the brain’s ability to accomplish goals.

3. Create strategies for overcoming obstacles presented by competing goals.

4. Synthesize the two different versions of self and the factors that influence their behavior.

5. Apply the knowledge of how willpower works to real world scenarios.

6. Comprehend the relationship between willpower and achieving long-term goals.

Sample Answers

1. I have learned that willpower is a competition between two parts of ourselves. The two parts have different goals, for example wanting to eat a candy bar or a healthier snack.

2. I have learned that even small interventions can have a big impact on our willpower. For example, a mindfulness meditation training can help improve sleep, which can help increase our willpower.

3. I have learned that it is important to identify our goals and to find ways to become the type of person who can accomplish them. We have to learn how to make our desired goals the default rather than constantly feeling like we have to resist our inner desires.

Kelly McGonigal

Kelly McGonigal is a health psychologist and lecturer at Stanford University. She is the author of several popular books, including “The Willpower Instinct”, which is based on her research and experience with mindfulness, motivation, and self-control. She is an expert on The Willpower Instinct because her research and writing focus on the science of self-control and how it can be applied to everyday life. She is affiliated with Stanford University, Stanford University.

Learning Design

The competencies of Motivation, Performance Optimization, and Courage and Perseverance are essential for increasing productivity. Motivation is important for inspiring individuals to take action, as it is the fuel that drives us to move forward and make progress. Performance Optimization allows us to maximize our efforts and make sure we are spending our time and energy in the most efficient and effective way. Finally, Courage and Perseverance will help us to push through any challenges we may face and keep us on track to achieve our goals.

To help students learn these competencies, a blended learning approach could be used. This approach would include both self-directed learning activities as well as instructor-led activities. For self-directed learning, students could read articles, listen to podcasts, and watch videos on the topics. Additionally, they could participate in online forums, join virtual study groups, and research relevant material.


Q: What did Kelly McGonigal discover while working with students at Stanford University?

A. Much of what we believe and know about willpower could be wrong
B. Most people don't want to do the right things
C. It is possible to change behavior with small interventions
D. People need to feel like they are the person who wants the candy bar

Answer: A. Much of what we believe and know about willpower could be wrong


1. What is the definition of willpower challenges?
2. What is the main intervention used to help people with willpower challenges?
3. How can mindfulness meditation help individuals increase their sleep time?
4. What are some common willpower challenges that people face?
5. How can understanding the science of willpower help people make better decisions?
6. What strategies can be used to stay motivated and focused on goals?
7. How can a person's mindset and energy levels affect their ability to make decisions?
8. How can people use their willpower to create healthy habits and lifestyle changes?


"Willpower Instinct," "Kelly McGonigal," "Talks at Google," "Willpower Challenges," "Health Psychology," "Stanford University," "Science of Willpower," "New Year's Resolutions," "Mindset," "Energy," "Stress Levels," "Mindfulness Meditation," "Breath Focus Meditation."


1. The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal is a book about how our understanding of willpower can be wrong.
2. Kelly McGonigal teaches a course called the Science of Willpower at Stanford School of Continuing Studies.
3. Poor sleep can make willpower challenges more difficult, but a mindfulness meditation practice can increase sleep time to over 8 hours.
4. Kelly McGonigal believes that understanding the science of willpower can help us achieve our goals.
5. Willpower can be seen as a competition between two versions of ourselves, one that wants immediate gratification and one that wants long-term success.


1. Create a mindfulness meditation course tailored to help people improve their willpower and achieve their goals.
2. Develop an online platform that allows users to track their progress on different willpower challenges, such as eating healthy, exercising, or taking up a hobby.
3. Create a series of videos and podcasts that provide tips and strategies for overcoming common willpower challenges.
4. Develop an app that uses positive reinforcement to help users stay motivated to reach their goals.
5. Develop a game or board game that helps people practice making decisions that involve willpower.


This learning instructional guidance was formulated using the GPT-3 language model created by OpenAI.


Looking to kickstart your productivity? Check out Kelly McGonigal's book, "The Willpower Instinct" to help you take control of your life goals! #productivity #goalgetter 📚 @Accredicity

Earn Credentials for Upskilling Yourself with Videos from YouTube

At Accredicity, you can gamify your Lifelong Learning, with Cred, in order to earn Stackable Credentials and Undergraduate Certificates from Bite-Size Education.



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