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Dec 14, 2020

Most of us have habits we'd like to change -- both getting rid of bad ones and adopting good ones. It's easier said than done! Habits by nature are hardwired and happen without much activation energy. In this episode, Christina Shenvi MD, PhD breaks down the nature of willpower, how knowing it's a limited resource can play to our advantage, strategies for getting out of bad habits, and how to adopt the ones you want.

Guest Bio: Christina Shenvi MD, PhD is an emergency physician at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill where she is the director of the UNC Office of Academic Excellence. A frequent guest on Stimulus, she has now started coaching and teaching more broadly on time management. Her goal is to help busy professionals find more peace with their schedules, feel less stressed, and use their time more effectively. Dr. Shenvi blogs at:, and offers workshops on time management.

Episode Sponsor: Panacea Financial is a financial services company created for doctors, by doctors -- aiming to improve the lives of physicians and physicians in training with products and services tailored to the medical community.  Whether it's scheduling residency interviews, trying to buy a house during training, or looking for ways to fund your practice, Panacea Financial was created to remove the unique financial hurdles of physicians and allow you to better serve your communities. Panacea Financial is a Division of Sonabank, Member FDIC.

Listen on:

We discuss:

  • Self-regulation and how it relates to willpower [06:00];
  • How willpower is a limited resource [08:00];
  • Tricks for building up your willpower muscle [14:45];
  • The habit cycle, and why we need to understand how habits work before we can change them [20:25];
  • Breaking bad habits using mental contrasting with implementation intention [24:55];
  • The process of strategic automatism, where you're strategically forming a habit so that you do it automatically [28:50];
  • Why it helps to think about the identity you want to have when you’re working on improving your habits [29:30];
  • Habit stacking [36:30];
  • And more.

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