Build INFLUENCE with science-based goal setting strategies: Dr. Katy Milkman, author “How to Change” (Episode 169)

With Dr. Katherine “Katy” Milkman
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Show Notes

Build INFLUENCE with science-based goal setting strategies! (Episode 169)

GUEST: Dr. Katy Milkman, author “How to Change”


THIS WEEK’S TOPIC: We dive into the science behind making our goals stickier, kicking bad habits, what to do when we slip up, and how best to motivate others! 

As we cruise into the holidays and get ready to welcome a New Year, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about goals or maybe a habit you want to break. It might even be learning to get better control over your emotions. Whatever it is, goal setting and challenging ourselves to do and be better is a big part of INFLUENCE! This week’s guest offers incredibly smart ways to think about setting goals that really do stick!



Dr. Katherine “Katy” Milkman is an award-winning professor of behavioral science at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and the co-director (along with Professor Angela Duckworth (author of “Grit”) of the Behavior Change for Good Initiative, a research center with the mission of advancing the science of lasting behavior change whose work is being chronicled by Freakonomics Radio

Katy is an expert on how to spur positive and lasting change, and she’s the author of the bestselling book: How to Change: The Science of Getting From Where You are to Where You Want to Be.” She hosts the popular Charles Schwab behavioral economics podcast Choiceology, and is the former president of the international Society for Judgment and Decision Making.  

Over the course of her career, Katy has worked with or advised dozens of organizations on how to spur positive change. She earned her undergraduate degree from Princeton University (summa cum laude), where she studied Operations Research and American Studies and her PhD from Harvard University where she studied Computer Science and Business.



THE SCIENCE BEHIND WHY WE HAVE TROUBLE BREAKING BAD HABITS AND ACHIEVING OUR GOALS: Unlike most self-help authors, Katy’s approach is based in science, and a deep curiosity and understanding of human behavior. 


THE ROLE OF MINDSET: #MindsetIsEverything and plays a big role in thinking about habits and goals.  


THE ROLE OF CONFIDENCE & SELF-DOUBT: A lack of self-efficacy can prevent us from setting goals in the first place. When we don’t “believe” we have the capacity to change it makes taking that first step incredibly difficult. 


YEAR END “RESETS” ARE NOT FOR EVERYONE! It’s popular to set New Year’s resolutions, but doing so may not be the right approach for everyone. 


KATY’S FAVORITE GOAL SETTING HACK: “Temptation bundling” which works by combining “fun” and “efficiency.” 


HOW TO COMBAT THE “WHAT THE HELL EFFECT:” Ever fall off the “diet waggon,” and then say to yourself, “what the hell, it’s already a lost cause” ? Katy shares a great fix for this very common — and very human — response. 


THE COMPANY YOU KEEP: Your mother was right! Katy says don’t underestimate the impact the people around us have on our goals and habits. 


HOW TO MOTIVATE & HELP OTHERS, INCLUDING OUR KIDS: Rather than sharing your wonderful advice, Katy shares a counterintuitive approach that works more consistently. 


KATY’S SUPER POWER: Katy says her superpower comes from her “Advice Club” originally called “The NO Club.” It’s a great example of the power of connection and of creating a network that supports particular goals and objectives. 


Understanding human nature and using natural tendencies to not only better manage ourselves, but also to understand others is an important key to INFLUENCE. 


Let me know what you thought of the episode! You can reach me on Instagram @LauraCoxKaplan or via the website. I’d love to hear from you! And, if you’d like to share your thoughts to help others find us, please be sure to leave a review on Itunes.  See you next week! 




Order “How to Choose: the science behind getting where you are to where you want to be”