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Expanded Book Recommendations on The Willpower Engine

About the site

I’ve been looking forward to organizing the information on some of the really good books I’ve been reading in recent years that touch on or inform the subject of self-motivation. To that end, I’ve made pages for my capsule Goodreads reviews of a variety of recommended books, and compiled those together with my review posts from the site. Down the road I should have a chance to expand on some of those capsule reviews as well as adding links to details about many of the other books I’ve mentioned here. The full listing of books is on the left-hand side of the page, or click on the Resources tab at the top of the page and scroll down to “Books.”

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New Getting Started Page

About the site

As the number of articles here on The Willpower Engine grows, I’ve added a new Getting Started page to offer a quick introduction to the site and to self-motivation. It lists some good starter articles that provide basics of things like idea repair and feedback loops, and should be helpful to new visitors. I hope you’ll comment or contact me if you have thoughts or suggestions.


If Your Comment Has Been Eaten …

About the site

I’ve just heard that some comments on the site might be getting blocked by my comment spam filter. If yours was among them, my sincere apologies, and I hope you’ll comment again now that I’ve turned that filter off and will be hunting for a WordPress plugin that will let me review blocked comments. Thanks to Shirls for alerting me to this problem.

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Post Willpower Engine Articles on Your Site for Free

About the site

As of August 4th, 2009, all Willpower Engine articles are freely available to copy, forward, reproduce, include in newsletters, repost on your blog, and so on, under an “Attribution, No Derivative Works” Creative Commons license.

That means that you can use my original work on this site for free wherever as you want, as long as you don’t alter the content, and as long as you attribute the work using my name (Luc Reid) and the URL of this site ( Most commercial use is fine under this kind of license. You can see an explanation of the license at , and you can send me a message if you have any questions.

By the way, please note that this applies mainly to the written content by me on this site. Guest posts from others, photos, etc., may be subject to different rules. If you have a question about a photo, click on the photographer link that appears at the bottom of the post where the photo appears.

If you do repost articles here, use them in your newsletter, etc., I’d love to hear about it, but that’s not a requirement.

Hope you find good uses for these posts!



A Quick Shot of Willpower in the Morning?

About the site

Thinking carefully about how I’ve been writing for this site so far, it’s come to my attention that I’ve been writing differently from most blogs out there with a practical theme: instead of posting brief items, I’m tending to write entire articles. Of course, these are complicated subjects we’re talking about, but it occurs to me that you, Honored Reader, may very often be coming by with just a little time to spare, and may not be available or inclined to dig in and examine things in such detail all at once.

So as an experiment, I’m going to switch to a new format for a while, posting much shorter pieces with the same kind of information, just broken up into smaller subjects. I’ll also be posting on a regular schedule, and I should have that figured out soon.

Will this make the site more useful to you? Any opinions on short vs long, regular vs less predictable, in-depth vs smaller pieces of information? Do pictures matter to you in making the site more appealing to look at?

I’d be very grateful to hear your comments and preferences: you could add a comment to this post or write me through the contact form at the bottom of the column to the right.

An update, Wednesday, July 29th: As of this week, I’ll be posting at about 6am on each and every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning (mostly by writing and scheduling the posts in advance, of course), with occasional extra posts sprinkled in.

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Looking for and offering guest posts on willpower and self-motivation

About the site

I’m interested in connecting with more people who are interested in self-motivation and willpower, so I’ve begun to make a more concerted search on the Web for people who write personal blogs on subjects like organization, changing habits, weight loss, writing, difficult personal projects, better working habits, addiction, quitting smoking, exercise, improving personal relationship skills, and anything else where self-motivation or willpower play a big part, so that I can invite people to guest blog here and/or offer guest blog posts for their sites.

Any suggestions for me of people I should approach, blogs I should read, or places where a guest post from me (whether on a particular requested subject or not) would be welcome? One thing that I’d particularly love to be able to have here from time to time is posts from people who have achieved goals or made changes in habits, describing what they did, what challenges they faced, and how things went–but I’m also interested in many other kinds of posts.

You can contact me through the contact form on the right (just scroll down to find it) or by commenting here.

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Read The Willpower Engine on your mobile device

About the site

Thanks to James Pearce and his WordPress Mobile Pack, you can now read information and ideas about self-motivation here on the Willpower Engine easily on your mobile device. Just point your phone or PDA to the usual address, and it will detect that you’re using a mobile device and redirect you to the speedy, easy-to-navigate-on-a-handheld-device version of the site.

By the way, for what it’s worth, I’ve worked with several different blog systems in the past and have been completely floored by the capabilities of WordPress, which has been completely free to me, apart from what I pay my ISP to host this site.

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How do people do that?

About the site

My older sister, Su, was a mystery to me in one particular way for many years. Here’s the mystery: all the time we were growing up, Su had a modest weight problem that, I think, really bugged her. The year she graduated from college, she moved to New York City and took an administrative job at Cooking Light magazine (she has since moved up through the ranks to become an editor of a sister magazine).

From a chapel ceiling by Correggio

Four or five years after Su moved to New York, there was a change in her: she started eating differently, getting more exercise, and from what I could see, thinking differently. I remember, for instance, how enthusiastic she was about a particular brand of popsicle that fit in really well with the kinds of meals she was planning.

And in due time, her weight problem was gone. Su became downright svelte–and has continued in an extremely healthy lifestyle ever since.

The great mystery to me was how Su became so powerfully motivated: she acquired focus, discipline, and enthusiasm for her goals that she hadn’t had before. This has always struck me as impressive, even a little heroic. How do people do that? I wondered for a long time. And although I learned what some of the pieces to that puzzle were and years later even made my own fitness transformation, for a long time it was just a hypothetical question. It didn’t occur to me for quite a while that there might be a real answer to it, if I broke the question down into its key elements.

But in doing research on a book project, it became clear to me that I needed an answer for this question, the question of how people become motivated to achieve what has always been beyond them in the past. And there must be an answer, because people like Su did it. So I started researching, and thinking, and taking notes, and rapidly pieces of the puzzle began to become clear, some of them pieces that I had already turned up over 8 years of reading and studying about cognitive psychology and related topics but just hadn’t realized had to do with self-motivation. Soon I decided I needed to put aside my previous book project for a while and instead begin shaping a book about self-motivation.

Each insight led me on to more clues, and I began investigating tangental subjects–neuropsychology, schema therapy, even body language–that yielded more answers. I began working systematically on my own self-motivation with goals that were important to me, and later began doing a little bit of coaching for friends who wanted to work on their own self-motivation.

And since I think about this subject every day, and am turning up more information than I’ll even be able to fit in that single book, I started this site.

This site is not about motivating others; that’s a different topic, a question of management and communication and strategy and interpersonal relations. And it’s not about inspiration. There are any number of people who can offer inspiration or experiences that will charge us up for a day or a week, to help give a motivational push.

Instead, this site is about the specific mechanics behind how we become motivated, and about what specific techniques we can use to make those mechanics work in our favor. It draws on many books, on psychological studies, on personal experience, on my coaching work, and on my discussions with other people about their own lives. And because I hope to show the inner workings of self-motivation, how the parts fit together, where the power comes from and how it’s transmitted, I’m calling this “The Willpower Engine.”

I’m always looking for comments: questions, ideas for research, contact from people who are interested in the subject, post suggestions, and so on. Willpower is a complex subject, but it’s one that’s well worth mastering, and for me, one that’s well worth talking to people about.

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