Yikes. I don’t quite know where to begin on this one.
It’s scary for me because a lot of my theories on behavior change on this blog rest upon Baumeister and his experiments. The idea of conservation of willpower, of working on habits individually, lowering thresholds of willpower in order to facilitate habituation with Bj Fogg’s Tiny Habits….
As the article says (despite the sensational title) it could be that his theories are still correct. But we don’t know yet based on this problem with reproducibility in psychology.
The chance that it might be wrong can also be quite freeing - if willpower isn’t depleteable or acts differently than I thought it does, it could open the gateway for change that’s much more rapid. Rather than working on one or two habits, I could work on a dozen.
But my initial hunch is that it is true, at least with respect with willpower across times. This whole project started with the question - how come highly motivated people aren’t good at more than one thing? Baumeister’s theories explain this pretty well.
Also, every single time I’ve bitten off more than I could chew my entire project fell a part. I’ve never been good at doing things long term for myself even when I was in very structured conditions, even when I didn’t assume that willpower was depleteable. And this project has allowed me to concretely change this based on this theory.
I guess we’ll just have to see.