Posts tagged as:

goal setting & achievement

Winning With Willpower!

by Robert McEntee on August 21, 2012

“Every man is his own ancestor, and every man is his own heir. He devises his own future and he inherits his own past.”  Frederick Henry Hedge (1805-1890) Clergyman and educator

The biggest predictor of one’s success is the extent to which the person makes himself do things that he doesn’t really want to do, and conversely, prevents himself from doing certain things that he craves.  Successful people do the most important thing when it needs to be done, whether they want to or not. 

Willpower is like a muscle and is strengthened over time by regular workouts.  Many scientists view willpower as a finite resource which can be depleted, similar to physical muscles becoming exhausted.  The good news is, willpower depletion is only temporary; it bounces back in due time.

When rest isn’t feasible, recent research shows that you can actually reignite your self-control, simply by thinking about people you know who have lot of self-control.  This is do to the action of “mirror neurons” discussed previously.  This is similar to the way your own life may not seem so busy when comparing to someone who really gets a lot done!

Another option is to give yourself a pick-me-up.  Not an artificial stimulant like a drink, which typically depletes rather than improves willpower, but a natural mood lifter like exercising.  Anything that naturally lifts your spirits should also help restore your self-control strength when it needs a boost.

Recent studies show that daily activities such as exercising, keeping track of your finances or diet, or even just remembering to sit or stand up straight as often as possible, can strengthen your capacity for self-control.  According to Dr. Sam Wang, Professor of Molecular Biology and Neuroscience at Princeton University, using your non-dominant hand to brush your teeth for two weeks, can lead to a measurable increase in your willpower capacity.  People who do such small willpower exercises often find that they have the capacity to tackle larger issues.

How To Set And Achieve A Goal (Arina Nikitina)

Action! Nothing Happens Until Something Moves (Robert Ringer)

In another study, people who were given free gym memberships and stuck to a daily exercise program for two months, enhanced their strength and overall health.  The regiment seemed to enable them to smoke fewer cigarettes, drink less alcohol, and eat less junk food. They were better able to control their tempers, and less likely to foolishly spend money.  It was also reported that they were less likely to procrastinate and they were more punctual.  In other words, they were just generally more disciplined in every aspect of their lives that required the use of willpower.  Of course this “snowball effect” can just as easily work in the negative direction.

If you want to build more willpower, start by picking an activity (or avoiding one) that fits with your life and your goals, anything that requires you to override an impulse or repetitive desire, and do it daily.  It will be hard in the beginning, but it will get easier over time if you persist, because you are increasing your capacity for self-control.  Friends will notice your self improvement, and perhaps trust you more, which can lead to other benefits as well.

I once heard a speaker whom I never would have guessed needed to go through AA and similar counseling, to achieve victory over severe alcohol and drug addiction.  He said the best advice he received was to imagine a room with a wall titled “Sober Person” in front of him and another wall titled “Reformed Alcoholic” behind him.  He was told that he always needed to face the “Sober Person” wall.

A simple paradigm switch can increase your goal achievement and control of bad habits as well, by keeping your mind on what you do rather than don’t, want.  This may explain why people who attempt to quit smoking a little at a time or perhaps through the now popular electronic cigarettes, have such a tough time of it.  Their internal dialogue and self image isn’t clear whether they are a smoker or not.  Once they have accepted that they are a smoke free person, it becomes easier.

The impact of self image became very apparent to famed plastic surgeon, Dr. Maxwell Maltz. In his classic bestseller, Psycho Cybernetics (, he details how often times cosmetic surgery didn’t change attitudes or perceived results, even though the person appeared outwardly beautiful.  It wasn’t until the person’s self image matched the physical result, that the individual experienced real change.

Today we have computers etc to save our written thoughts, but in “the early days” there are many stories of authors who lost their manuscripts representing significant portions of their lives, and had to summon the will-power to start again.  Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), the famous author of ‘The History of French Revolution’,  gave his finally completed manuscript to a friend for review.  That night an open window let wind scatter the papers about the room.  When the maid saw it in the morning,  she thought it was trash and used it for kindling in the fireplace! Fortunately Carlyle’s wife helped him to recover from the great loss and start again from scratch, or what was considered a literary masterpiece would not have been published.

Hopefully you won’t have to bounce back from a loss like that, but it is helpful to think of even small areas in which you need to increase your will power and decide now what specific actions you will take. As always I welcome your comments, questions, or stories related to any of the above.

The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play


Goal Getting Made Easy!

by Robert McEntee on August 10, 2011

“When you discover your mission you will feel its demand. It will fill you with enthusiasm and a burning desire to get to work on it.”                              W. Clement Stone

The problem with goal setting is people often aim to achieve something that is incongruent with more pressing desires. For example someone may want to lose weight and they realize they will need to start a regular exercise program. However long hours at work are keeping them away from their family and resolving this sense of deterioration in close personal relationships is of utmost concern. This leads to a vicious cycle as they then feel bad about not achieving their weight loss goal.

What helps is to spell out the benefits to your subconscious mind and mentally resolve all internal conflicts before setting the goal. If the person above spends just a little time analyzing the situation, they will observe that if they lose weight they will feel better, and therefore be able to enjoy their time with family more and probably be around longer to do so as well! They also may come up with a compromise on the time factor; perhaps some of the family time could involve athletic activities.

Goals are best set in the positive rather than the negative tense. For example, regarding weight loss say, “By July 1st, I weigh X” (the desired weight) rather than “I’m losing weight” which draws focus back to the problem of excess weight. It’s difficult for the subconscious mind to distinguish a negative concept from a positive one. Notice the pattern of beginning with the end in mind, so the steps needed to work backwards to achieve it become apparent. Setting specific, measurable goals in the positive & present tense is the key.

The whys of goal setting are critical to achieving the whats. Once the mind has a clear vision of the desired outcome and resulting sense of well being, the hows become easier. We often need to sell ourselves on a course of action by clearly relating why it is important to an overall mission. It has often been said that people buy what they want and justify it by creating a sense of need. Similarly your goal needs to be something you really want. This is why people who haven’t really found a sense of purpose for their life, seem to find it harder to set and achieve goals. Just the act of setting your goals on paper forces a valuable review of where you are headed.

Once you know what lights your fire you will find it easier to gather kindling wood. The required work is then really play. Goal setting for creative types and entrepreneurs who love the work like play, can be more challenging since they are drawn to too many wonderful objectives, which all seem attainable. Yet in our brief span on Earth, “Every choice is a thousand relinquishments”, so one must consciously prioritize what they want to achieve in the available time.

The big goal is best broken down into smaller projects with timelines for completion set. This is disciplined fun, blending the radical with rational mind sets. Working from a list really helps clarify objectives. Creating a daily list is best, however I found too many days slipped away without my doing so. I probably would have stopped doing it all together as frustration increased, if I hadn’t switched to a weekly list. I typically create this on Sunday evenings as I briefly compare last week’s accomplishments to its list, transfer outstanding items and add new items, to create next week’s list. You’ll have to experiment to see what system you find most beneficial and then stick to it, even if you miss doing so occasionally.

If you’ve never used a set of written goals or desired outcomes, you probably don’t realize how it increases productivity. Perhaps before going on a trip you have written down what needs to get done before leaving, and saw how much you complete when deadlines are specified and tasks are organized. A short term to do list, and a longer term goal plan should be used as part of an overall system.

Just clearly establishing objectives by itself increases achievement and also activates the unconscious mind, resulting in further benefit as discussed in previous articles. You are now really involved or committed, having used three senses to write your objectives, sight, touch and sound. Most people don’t smell or taste the paper, but that’s up to you!

Interesting studies have been done on our visual-mental processing systems. If a person in a darkened room looks at a chart filled with words immediately after the lights are briefly turned on, typically they can’t make any out. However if the person is simply instructed to focus on one small section of the chart when the lights come on, they can comprehend some words. So too we must focus on particular tasks in our life by defining them clearly, best done by writing them out.

Consistently achieving goals is one of the biggest self esteem boosters around. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with everything you are not getting to. However once you know that you’re at least doing something about these uncompleted items you can rest easier, even if it’s just a small step. Studies show writing objectives down increases chances of attainment and I can personally say also frees the mind to contemplate more lofty ideals!

One last BIG tip: Do the most difficult or resisted thing FIRST each day! What we resist, persists as they say, and it’s usually what most needs doing. To paraphrase Brian Tracy, if you had to eat a live frog but did it first thing in the morning, the rest of the day would be like a piece of cake. Speaking of cake, be sure to reward yourself each time you do achieve a goal. So here’s to a piece of cake and achieving YOUR mission! I welcome your comments.

Here are a couple of great books/audios which more fully explain the above.

Goals (Brian Tracy

Action! Nothing Happens Until Something Moves (Robert Ringer)

Getting Things Done (David Allen)

Ready for Anything (David Allen)


Creating Fact From Fantasy!

by Robert McEntee on December 27, 2010

“Live out of your imagination, not your history.” Steven Covey

In his best selling book, “Think and Grow Rich”, Napoleon Hill wrote, “You will never have a definite purpose in life; you will never have self confidence; you will never have initiative and leadership unless you first create these qualities in your imagination and see yourself in possession of them.” He further stated, “Imagination is the most marvelous, miraculous, inconceivably powerful force the world has ever known.”

The book is based on his long term study of some of the most successful people of the 20th century, from which he distilled the common traits or techniques employed by these high achievers. If you haven’t read this monumental work, I highly recommend you do so. It provides a wealth of useful information and techniques even outside the realm of finances. You can get it here

Just the story of its creation, as commissioned by Andrew Carnegie, is an interesting read in itself. I typically see this book still credited today by the most accomplished in many diverse fields, as one of their most valued literary inspirations.

There is a concept called “Fantasy – Theory – Fact.” This means that everything has its origination in the form of fantasy, which a courageous person has dared to turn into a theory, which later proved itself as fact. Even something simple like the chair you are sitting in, existed first as thought in a builder’s mind, then plans or a design – the theory, and finally the proof which supports your body.

The act of creation is perhaps our highest spiritual ability. Biblically, mankind is created in God’s image. When people reproduce, the created child is in their image, demonstrating this God-like ability we are gifted with. Everything that exists starts as a thought in someone’s mind. It is up to the individual creator to transform the thought energy into the physical reality.

Yes energy is readily transformed into mass as dictated by Einstein’s famous equation, energy equals mass, times the speed of light squared. As a side note, the process can be speeded up through a Master Mind Group and other techniques, as discussed in “Think & Grow Rich”!…

Of course more radical theories like the earth is round, not flat, are first met with violent opposition, and whether the theory is developed depends on the tenacity of the one proposing it. So too are our internal belief systems like that. Personal inner critics love to deny that their master (that’s you!) has a basis for confidence to achieve a desire, particularly if they weren’t successful in achieving something similar before.

Our brains’ reticular activation system again looks for scenes it can identify with or has previously patterned. Yet the daring who ignore or silence their self critic to follow their dream, often a long process requiring incredible persistence, meet with uncommon success. The process is analogous to rerouting the river of your mind to travel where you really want to go, not what you or those concerned for your well-being, perceive as a practical destination for you.

Even more mundane tasks require the willpower to first undertake them. Writing down what needs to be done (much more on this to follow!) is a great way to start. Don’t deny that you are a creator, you do it all the time. However deciding on WHAT, WHEN and HOW you will create these things is the more serious work!