In the eight months since I wrote my book Willpower about better workplace productivity, I have received hundreds of emails and phone calls from people saying how I have helped them. The advice I had given was of immense value. I can say that people in almost every organization can benefit from my insights and they can find that sense of empowerment to make better choices, even if they're not doing everything they can, right now.
I believe we are living in the golden age of willpower, but I also know that there is a huge gap between academic research and the actions people take to actually use it. This requires a new model of work that says, in many cases, that we think of willpower as a limited resource. Our work results in more and better experiences and we get off with fewer problems.
I can say that people in almost every organization can benefit from my insights.
Take Simon Sinek's famous famous quote, that no one is ever fired for wanting to be their best. It's because no one wants to be told he or she is doing too much. This idea that we should work hard and smart but not too hard and smart reinforces this idea that willpower is a limited resource. Many people don't think that's fair because it implies that an individual has an obligation to take on more than she or he actually wants to, and that's why I think we'll continue to see more and more people saying, "I can't change my schedule to do more, and I have to stop at a conference that I have to go to." And nobody is suggesting that kind of work culture is good for you.
Actually, work/life balance isn't such a bad thing for most of us because it's really about better choices we make. When you are at home or on vacation, you can make your life a little better rather than just running out to buy things that you really don't need or want.
But when you work in an office, you are under much more pressure. It seems like you should do more. When you get up, you should shower and dress in the most professional way. When you come back home, you should cook some better meals and should be throwing all the socks out. And, again, when you come back home, you should clean the house, sort the recycling, clean up the barbecue. (Actually, good winter, by the way, I love your blazes. The cover of this year's blue edition is all smiles. Good luck with the camping book.)
Getting better is hard because it means looking at your schedule and seeing that you don't have to do everything you would usually do. It means listening to your intuition and acting on it rather than just doing what everyone else wants you to do.
Those of us who are doing well in our careers can take a little bit of comfort in the fact that no one wants to be told they are doing too much and they think the companies that tell them they are doing too much are doing us a disservice. So we can work smarter and play harder.