Boss Your SELF-CONTROL: Goals


Ask people to name their greatest personal strengths, and they’ll often credit themselves with honesty, kindness, humor, creativity, bravery or other virtues – even modesty.  But not self-control.  It came in dead last by researchers who surveyed more than one-million people around the world.  Acquiring self-control isn’t as magically simple as the techniques in modern self-help books, but it does not have to be grim either.  Ultimately, self-control helps you relax, removing stress, and enabling you to conserve willpower for other important challenges.

The first step in self-control is to simply set a goal.  My immediate goal is to successfully present all of the tips I have learned on mastering self-control to you through my next couple of blogs.  Maybe your goal will be to go through these wonderful advances and learn how you too can boss your self-control.

You might think you have one tank of self-control set aside for work, another for dieting, another for exercise, and another for being nice to your family.  But psychologists have discovered that you use the same stock of willpower for all manner of tasks.  You have a finite amount of willpower that becomes depleted as you use it.  There are connections among the wildly different things you do all day.  You use the same pool of willpower to deal with frustrating traffic, tempting food, annoying colleagues, difficult assignments, religious convictions.  Resisting fatty foods at lunch leaves you with less willpower to give your presentation with full potential.  Chronic physical pain leaves people with a perpetual shortage of willpower because their minds are so depleted by the struggle to ignore the pain.

Focus on one self-improvement goal at a time.  If you set multiple goals, you may succeed for a short while by drawing on reserves to power through, but that just leaves you more depleted and more prone to serious mistakes later on.  Those who try to quit smoking while also restricting their eating or cutting back on alcohol tend to fail at all three.  They simply have to many demands on their willpower.

“Above all, don’t make a list of New Year’s Resolutions,” explains self-control expert, Roy Baumeister.  Each January 1, millions of people drag themselves out of bed, full of hope (or hangover) resolved to eat less, exercise more, spend less money, work harder at the office, keep the home cleaner, all while still miraculously having time for more romantic dinners and long walks on the beach.

By Feb. 1, they are embarrassed to even look at the list.  But instead of concluding they are just not strong enough, they should put the blame where it belongs: on the list. No one has enough willpower for that list.  If you are going to quit smoking, do not overhaul your finances at the same time… you’ll just want to smoke more.  If your going to need your energy for a new job – like, say, the presidency of the United States – then this probably is not the ideal time to go cold turkey on cigarettes.

Because you only have one supply of willpower, a better plan is to make one resolution and stick to it.  At times, that too may seem like one resolution to many.  Find a source of motivation that is relevant to your person. Maybe artist and mastermind, Amanda Palmer, can be of some encouragement.

Palmer, began her career posing as a living statue when she was 22 while living in her hometown of Boston.  She called herself the “Eight Foot Bride,”(see below) completely decked out in white face paint, wearing a formal wedding dress and veil, and holding a bouquet in her white gloved hands. She would stand on top of a box completely still until a dollar was put in her tip basket.  She would then elegantly hand her tipper a flower from her bouquet and then return to complete motionlessness. She would do this for hours at a time, sometimes enduring insults and projectile objects hurled at her by drunks.  The crowds marveled at her stamina and her ability to hold a pose in a rigid position for so long.  She had developed her own way of taming her self-control.  Although she humbly does not consider herself a disciplined person, she admits, “you know humans are capable of incredible things.  If you simply decide that you’re not going to move, you just don’t move.”

Key Points:

1) You only have a single stock of willpower that used for every aspect of your life.  Be careful not to deplete your energy in one area leaving you exhausted upon approaching your next task.

2) Do not make “New Years Resolutions.”  Trying to accomplish to many goals at once will quickly exhaust your willpower, most likely causing you to abandon all goals.   Set one goal and give it your all.

3) Find your inspiration.  Maybe your spouse, your kids, or the desire to prove those doubting critics wrong might be your fuel.  If Amanda Palmer can muscle the willpower to stand completely still for hours on end while enduring hurled objects and heckling drunks, maybe you too can stand your ground and conquer your goal.  Remember her encouraging words: “Humans are capable of incredible things.  If you simply decide that you’re not going to move, you just don’t move.”




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Lets face it, everyone has something they wish they could do better: maybe you want to stop smoking, actually follow a diet, stop gambling, workout on a regular basis, quit drinking or doing drugs, etc.  Don’t you wish there was a scientific method for controlling every area of your willpower and squashing your so-called “sins”???  Alcoholics have AA, and with the exception to organized religion, Alcoholics Anonymous probably represents the largest program ever conducted to improve self-control.  Don’t you wish there were methods like that for the rest of your problems???  What about other issues like dieting and exercise?  Do we have to go to a new 12-step program for each of our dilemmas?

There are more answers out there than you may think and even recently there have been some major scientific breakthroughs on how anyone, including you, can become boss of your self-control… and I want to show you how.

Psychologists have discovered that willpower, like a muscle, becomes fatigued from overuse but can also be strengthened over long term through exercise.  Since major scientists, such as Roy F. Baumeister, first demonstrated the existence of willpower, it has become one of the most intensively studied topics in social science.

First, let me tell you how I developed the desire to master self-control.

Through these scientific studies, there have been many aspects of organized religion that point towards success in improving self-control.  Think about it:  if you are truly afraid of burning in the fiery pits of Hell, you are going to vigorously strive to abstain from “sinning.” But what if you are not interested in faith or religion?

Well, as a man of faith, I have spent many days trying to douse the fire of my own personal “sins.”  Although, I have been successful in weeding out many areas, there have always been (just like anyone, religious or not) major stumbling blocks.  This is where I have to admit that many times the church may fall short in counseling certain areas of willpower.  If a Christian is struggling with a drinking problem, there is a Christian version of Alcoholics Anonymous they can be referred to.  But what about dieting, compulsive spending and borrowing, impulsive violence, underachievement in school, procrastination, etc.  Many times the church will default to, “you just need to pray more.”  From there, many people of faith spend their lives living in fear of ending up in lakes of fire because they can’t control their so-called “sins!!!”  In my book that just does not cut it.  If there is a God, there must be answers.  The baffling reality… there are.

Over my next couple of blogs, I will spill the truth on controlling willpower.  These are methods that secular scientists have recently discovered and they are easy enough for any person to apply, regardless of your religious beliefs.  I have decided to blog about my findings because these methods are seriously beneficial. I want to ingrain them in my personal life and incorporate them in lesson plans for my students.  So, if you decide to follow along it will be great to have you on this journey.  If not, I hope you never stop striving to persevere through your trails and become the best you can be.  Either way, good luck to you.

What Is Up With Those Old Restraunt Waiters???


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Here I am sitting with my friends in an Italian restaurant as our waiter approaches: An elderly gentlemen, probably double our senior, salty combed-back hair and a well-kept beard. He appeared to be somewhat put together and experienced.

The issue: It seemed like waiting on us was the equivalent to carrying a ball and chain. His eyes were glued to the wall and his face couldn’t form a smile if his life depended on it.

I don’t think our waiter’s actions were the result of a bad day or a recent family disaster. There was something deeper…

Is it possible our waiter has been working in the food industry for the past 30 years, first starting out in fast-food and slowly working up to mediocre cuisine hoping to finally have escaped the hideous task of waiting on these darn “kids!” ??? Trust me, if you would have only seen the look on his face…

Don’t get me wrong, elderly people who work common jobs fascinate me! Especially, if I happen to be their customer.  I DO NOT look down on or question their abilities. Maybe they have lived successful wealthy lives and simply want to work a little in their retirement to stay active. It is not my place to judge but sometimes I wonder…

Why wasn’t he at home with his family after a fruitful day at the office, reclining with a glass of wine, pondering how to adjust his investments or where to vacation next?

What went wrong: Did his business venture fall through the cracks? Was he a struggling artist? Did he drop out of college determined to find peace through experimental drugs??? Whatever it was, he was not pleased to be WAITING on my friends and me.

I could picture him conjuring the possibilities he would take if he could only be our age again… if he only had a second chance???

The outcome of our lives are only known by One, our Creator.  No one is guaranteed tomorrow or this next second for all that matters.  I really did not mean for this to turn into one of those motivational, finger wagging, “get your life together!” speeches…  but the bottom line is can we afford to waste any time???

“When I’m at the pearly gates, this will be on my video tape, my video tape…” Those famous lines from the song Videotape by Thom Yorke raise a very impromptu point:

What will be on your video tape?

Maybe you don’t believe in a God but what will people on this earth remember you for after you are gone?  I have often heard the words, “I don’t need to take life seriously YET” because “I am too young” and “I have years to waste…”  And maybe you do. AND maybe you don’t. Besides you only have one life to live anyway so why even consider that gamble???  Change the world, INFECT it with what you do best.  Come up with a strategic plan for your life, take risks, get close to the edge and take a look at the unimaginable.

Developing a Strategic Plan for Your Vision


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So you think you’ve discovered your vision, huh???   If not, read my previous post.

Congratulations!  If you have truly discovered your vision then you have surpassed the majority of the population and accomplished the first step towards doing something valuable with your life.

Now what???

It would be nice if just having the vision in our mind were enough but your vision is not going to grow by itself.  You need a plan!  Having a plan provides the steps necessary to accomplish your vision and ultimately help take the weight off of YOUR shoulders!

Here are 4 easy steps to help you make your vision a reality:

1) Make it tangible:  Write it down.  Yes, simply just write it down.  Get it out of your head and onto something you can see.  Not only will this help you solidify that blob of thought in your head but it will also act as a motivator.  Being able to physically see your vision will release your creative juices.  Don’t just write it in a notebook and tuck it away somewhere.  Write it where you can see it every day.  Tape it to your mirror or put a daily reminder in your smart phone calendar with your vision as the title.  Every time you see it, allow your brain to ponder it… come up with ideas for it… and get creative with how you can accomplish it!  All the answers to your vision will not evolve in one sitting.  Soak in your vision and allow it to grow!

2) Determine the end goal:  You might have already answered this in step #1.  For example, your vision might be something like this: Starting a non-profit shelter geared towards rescuing abused animals and finding them new owners.  That IS a vision with an end goal built in (the best kind really).  But, if your vision is: To help animals.  Then you have not ultimately established how you want to go about helping animals.  Figure out the actual act that you will perform to accomplish your vision.  Do you want to open an animal shelter, provide doggy-day-care, raise money for an animal shelter, or create an animal rights activist group equipped to conquer the world!!??  It’s your vision so the sky is the limit!

3) Put cream in the middle!:  What is an Oreo without the heavenly delicious cream filling???  You have both of the cookies and you are prepared to dunk but you got no cream! (Don’t even to tell me you are one of those freaks who doesn’t like the cream) Cookie one is where you are now in life.  Cookie two is the end goal you just established in step #2.  Now, you need to conjure how you are going to get from cookie one to cookie two.  Grab another sheet of paper.  On the top of the paper write “TODAY.” At the bottom, write out your entire END GOAL. In the middle, write all of the objectives that would keep you from walking out the door today and carrying out your vision in full.  Lets go back to our animal non-profit:  Do you know what it takes to establish a non-profit within the legal guidelines of your state?  Are you going to turn your house into a stinky animal shelter or do you need a building?  It’s OK if your initial cream filling is just a bunch of problems and not steps. But eventually, you need to turn those problems into actions.  Go for the Double Stuf Oreos!

4) Get feedback:  I cannot stress this step enough!  And some of you still won’t do it!  Now that you have got your end goal and objectives written down, you are ready to bounce your ideas off someone else.  This in not only the most important step but it is also the most enjoyable.  Schedule a meeting with someone who is an expert with what your vision encompasses.  For our animal shelter entrepreneur, you might want to meet with a veterinarian or an ethologist.  This is your time to sit down with someone who specializes in your passion!  You get to pick their brain and mooch off of their wisdom and experience!  This meeting will also provide some clarity for your cream filling.  You might even find someone who has a building they’ve wanted to contribute towards a good cause.  Who knows, you might even get financial support or a partnership!  Remember, the most important contribution you can receive is their experience and wisdom.  So, be grateful they were willing to meet with you and be astute and ready to take notes (trust me, they will be flattered that you want to write down what they’ve said).

Remember, your vision won’t happen over night.  Besides, where’s the fun in that???  Take joy in the process of watching your vision grow from an idea to a reality.  Think of it as a seed that needs to be watered and given light.  The reward of seeing something that YOU came up with flourish… priceless.

The Most Potent Leadership Weapon: Vision


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The world’s greatest Leaders accomplish tasks because they’re highly motivated by vision!  Take vision away from a leader and you cut out their heart!

When you were a child, you dreamed of becoming Bat Man or America’s Next Top Model…  By the time junior high came around, you developed a set of so-called “life-conquering talents” that would certainly make you millions! After high school graduation, a small percent of your graduating class had truly found a vision for their life (or mistakenly thought they had), the majority moved onto college with a small voice taunting what the heck are you going to do with the rest of your life???

Nobody likes the feeling of not knowing why they belong.

Do you think Martin Luther King realized he had a “dream” when he was a child?  Probably not.  King experienced life, went through numerous trials, and eventually dug deep down inside to overcome those trials.  He created a personal vision for his life.  That vision changed the world…

Search for it passionately.  If you were born with a true knowledge of your vision, great!  The majority of us sweat when pondering “what could I pursue for the REST OF MY LIFE and never get tired of? … BECAUSE. It. Is. My Motivation!”

Consult your Creator: The book of Psalms proclaims that your “book” was written before you were even born!  That means you have to go no further than your prayer closet to find your vision.  WARNING: What you hear might not be what you thought you would hear.  It would be great if we could get all of our prayer requests answered exactly the way we want them, and wrapped in a bow. The reality is our brains are to small to truly comprehend our purpose.  You should inquire whether or not you’ve asked God to unveil HIS vision for your life, or if you’re asking God to fulfill a man-made plan that YOU came up with.  If you’re brave enough to follow, God will never lead you astray… even if what you first hear from Him doesn’t make sense (In my opinion, that’s the best kind).

When I was young, I aspired to be a rock star. I wanted to travel around the world in a band and play drums for millions of people to see (AKA worship).  I thought I had my “vision” all figured out.  I moved to LA and followed that “vision” for several years. There was a problem.  I was too self-centered to care about the true calling on my life and instead, I replaced it with the worldly vision of being praised through rock stardom.  The only rock I hit was rock-bottom!  After hitting an all-time low, I finally realized I was missing the most important ingredient in my life: GOD!  My eyes were opened to the FACT that God put me on this earth for a reason.  I followed that vision and my potential was expanded far beyond the comprehension of my puny human brain.

I have not only become a more impact-full musician, but also a teacher, studio technician, and live music producer!  In fact, I just produced a rock show at the Red Sox baseball stadium in Boston last weekend!  AND, I also played drums in the show!  That event was sparked by a vision conjured over a year ago.  The goal was to put on the first Red Sox sponsored Christian event.  A few nights ago, it became a reality!  And I was a huge part of it!  All glory to God… it was a hit!

Now, I’m onto the next vision.  What are you up to?

Vision comes in all sizes.  You should challenge yourself to have many of them.  My recent en devour with the Red Sox was obviously not my entire reason for living.  It was an accomplishment of a smaller vision within the grandiose bigger picture!  Remember, vision is the fuel that leaders run on.  It’s the energy that creates the action.  It’s the fire that ignites the passion.  The vision for my life is massive!  I will spend my entire life pursuing that vision.  Because of that, it is so important to create many smaller visions along the way to keep my “life vision” thriving! That’s what I accomplished at the Redsox Stadium.

“I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” stated Dr. King in his famous speech.  Although King’s life was brutally stolen prematurely, his passionate pursuit of his own vision paid off.  Thank God he had the drive to run after it.  What is your drive?  What is your vision?