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Self-Efficacy is your belief that you’ll be able to accomplish a specific task.

Albert Bandura is widely regarded as one of the most influential psychologists of all time. One of the things he’s best known for is his theory of self-efficacy. Bandura defines self-efficacy as follows:

“[T]he belief in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations.”

That definition is a bit convoluted, but it can be summed up as the following quote by Henry Ford:

Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, youre right.”

Your self-efficacy will determine all of the following:

  • How motivated you are to take on a task.
  • The amount of effort that you’re willing to put into the achievement of a task.
  • For how long you’ll persist in the face of adversity.
  • Whether you’ll ultimately succeed at achieving the task.

After all, if you don’t believe you can do something, how likely are you to try? Not likely at all. And if you do try, how much effort will you be willing to exert? How likely are you to keep trying when you come across an obstacle or suffer a setback? You know the answers to these last two questions:

  • You won’t put much effort into it.
  • You’ll give up at the first sign of trouble.

onehouradayformula banner longThe opposite is also true. If you believe that you can do something you’ll be eager to get started, you’ll put in a lot of effort, and it’s highly likely that you’ll persist until you succeed.

Keep in mind that self-efficacy is task and situation-specific. As an illustration, you may have high levels of self-efficacy when it comes to solving math problems; medium levels of self-efficacy when it comes to giving presentations at work; and low levels of self-efficacy when it comes to doing anything athletic.

So, what can you do if you’ve set goals for yourself in an area of your life in which you have low self-efficacy? The answer is simple: you need to work on increasing your self-efficacy. You’ll discover how, below.

How to Increase Your Self-Efficacy

Bandura sets forth that you develop your self-efficacy beliefs based on how you interpret input that you receive from four sources:

  1. Mastery
  2. Modeling
  3. Persuasion
  4. Physiological Factors

This means that if you want to increase your self-efficacy in any area, you need to find a way to work with these four sources. These sources are discussed in the sections that follow.

1st Source of Self-Efficacy – Mastery

The first source of self-efficacy is mastery. If you’ve done well performing a certain type of task in the past, you’re likely to have a strong belief that you can accomplish that type of task again in the future.

In order to increase this source of self-efficacy, do the following:

  • Remember your past successes. Ideally, you’ll have past successes with goals that are similar to the goal that you’re currently working on. However, just remembering how you achieved something that you at first thought was difficult can be helpful.
  • Set goals that have an element of challenge in them but that are also realistic and attainable.
  • If you’ve failed at a certain type of task in the past, when it comes time to working on that sort of task again, set smaller goals for yourself and work your way up slowly, making sure to recognize even small successes.
  • As you work on your goal keep reminding yourself that having some stumbles and setbacks along the way is normal.

2nd Source of Self-Efficacy – Modeling

The second source of self-efficacy is the vicarious experience of observing others perform the task that you want to succeed at. You’re influenced by what you observe others doing.

The caveat here is that—to believe that “if they can do it, I can do it” –you need to perceive that the people whom you see succeeding in achieving the goal that you’re after are similar to you.

Ideally, you’ll be able to find role models—people who have succeeded with the goal that you’re currently pursuing—within your circle of friends or acquaintances. However, you don’t have to know someone—or even be near them—to model them. You can model people by watching them on YouTube, or by reading about their accomplishments on the internet.

The idea is to find someone who will make you think the following: “This person is a lot like me, and they were able to do it. Hey, I bet I can do it too!”

3rd Source of Self-Efficacy – Social Persuasion

Social persuasion is the third source of self-efficacy. What others tell you about your ability to achieve a certain task matters. Look for people who will encourage you to go after your dreams and who will cheer you on as you strive to achieve your goals.

At the same time, stay away from those who try to rain on your parade. People who try to convince you that you don’t have what it takes to achieve your goals will have a negative impact on your self-efficacy.

If you don’t currently have a supportive network, then try daily affirmations and journaling to remind yourself that you can succeed.

4th Source of Self-Efficacy – Physiological Factors

The emotional state that you’re in when it’s time to act on your goals will affect your self-efficacy. But what’s also important is what you tell yourself about you’re feeling.

As an illustration, everyone gets a little nervous when they’re about to try something new. You can interpret this nervousness in the following two ways:

  • You can interpret it as a sign of excitement at the prospect of stepping outside of your comfort zone. This excitement will encourage to keep moving forward.
  • However, if you interpret the nervousness as anxiety and fear, it’s likely that you’ll conclude that it’s best not to proceed.

Positive moods increase feelings of self-efficacy, while negative moods reduce it. Strive to put yourself in moods that will boost your self-efficacy by managing stress, and by talking yourself through any discomfort you may feel as you strive to achieve your goals.

An Illustration of Self-Efficacy

A high school coach wanted his track team to improve their running times. However, they were having a lot of trouble achieving this goal and they had grown discouraged. They started to believe that no matter how hard they tried, they wouldn’t be able to run faster than they already were.

Then, one day, the coach had an idea. During the night, he moved the finish line by a few yards.

The next day the students were surprised to discover that their running times had gotten worse (because-unbeknownst to them– the distance they were running was now longer). The coach told them: “Come on, guys! You’ve been doing better than this for weeks. What’s going on?”

Each of the team members thought to himself: “Of course I can do better this. I must be having a slow day. I’ll do better tomorrow.”

At the next practice they all pushed themselves really hard. In fact, they tried so hard that they managed to improve their time slightly from the previous day. However, they still weren’t achieving their “best time”. The coach encouraged them to try harder.

In the locker room, all of the team members were telling each other: “We can do better than that. We’ve done it before!”

After a few more practices—in which everyone was giving it their all— they improved their time even more. The coach then confessed to the students what he had done. At first, they were a little upset, but he explained that he had been trying to increase their self-efficacy and they understood that he wanted to help them.

The coach wanted his team to run even faster, so he showed the team a video of the track team from another high school nearby. The other track team was achieving the running time that the coach wanted his team’s members to achieve.

“Look at them,” the coach said. “They’re not bigger than you are, and they don’t have any advantages that you don’t have. If they can do it, so can you!”

A short time later one of the guys on the team managed to achieve the running time that the coach wanted. This inspired the others to try even harder.

The team started taking a few minutes before their runs to take deep breaths and visualize their success. By the end of that month everyone on the team was achieving the running time set by the coach.

They had succeeded in achieving the goal of improving their running times. And how did they succeed in doing this? By increasing their self-efficacy. Look at the following:

  • First, they thought that running faster was within their reach because they had done it before (they didn’t realize they were now running a longer distance because the coach had moved the finish line).
  • Second, they all encouraged each other to try harder and the coach kept telling them that they could do it.
  • Third, they saw a video of students from another high school who were just like them achieving better running times.
  • Fourth, they started putting themselves in a positive state of mind before their runs.

Increased self-efficacy goes a long way!


We’ve all read the children’s book “The Little Engine That Could”, in which a little engine succeeds in pulling a long train over a mountain by constantly repeating: “I think I can, I think I can”. Believe that you can achieve your goals. Live your best life by increasing your self-efficacy.

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personal kanban

Use Personal Kanban to visualize your work and double your productivity.

“Kanban” is a Japanese word which means “signboard”. It’s a method that was created by Taiichi Ohno at Toyota to improve workflow. Although it’s mainly been used for software creation and project management, it can also be used by individuals, both at home and at work.

When Kanban is used for individual work management it’s known as Personal Kanban. Here are some possible applications of Personal Kanban:

  • Writing a Novel
  • Managing Household Chores
  • Planning a Wedding
  • Creating an Online Course
  • Managing Your Small Business

Some of the benefits of using Personal Kanban include the following:

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  • It’s highly visual—you can see at a glance what needs to get done, what you’re working on, what your priorities are, and what you’ve accomplished.
  • It helps you avoid taking on too much at once.
  • It can be adapted to your own needs—you can begin using it and then make tweaks depending on the results that you’re getting.
  • At any moment you know exactly what task you need to be working on.

To get started with Personal Kanban all you need to do is the following:

  • Set up your Kanban Board.
  • Write down your tasks on sticky notes—one note for each task.
  • Move your sticky notes along the board as you work on and complete each task.

Personal Kanban is explained, in detail, below.

Personal Kanban In a Nutshell

The Kanban Board, or the Kanban, is where the magic happens. The simplest Kanban is a whiteboard with three columns on it. These columns are labelled as follows:

  • To Do
  • Doing
  • Done

It looks like this:

Once your whiteboard is ready, take a stack of Post-It notes and write down all of the tasks that you have pending — one task per Post-It note. On each Post-It you can include additional information such as a description of the task, when it’s due, and a few important details about the task.

Then, put the Post-Its up on the Kanban in the “To Do” column. In Kanban lingo, you populate your “To Do” column.

Organize your Post-Its so that the highest priority tasks are at the top, and the lower priority tasks are at the bottom. One option is to use different colors for each level of priority.

  • You can use red Post-It Notes for high priority tasks.
  • You can use orange Post-It Notes for medium priority tasks.
  • You can use yellow Post-It Notes for low priority tasks.

Decide which of the tasks in the “To Do” column you’re going to start working on (obviously, you should start working on the high priority tasks first). “Pull” those tasks into the “Doing” column.

Keep in mind that it’s vitally important that you establish a limit on how many tasks you can have in the “Doing” column at any one time. This is a key aspect of Kanban. The limit recommended by the authors of Personal Kanban: Mapping Work | Navigating Life is three.

When you’ve completed a task in the “Doing” column, pull it into the “Done” column. You can then take another task from the “To Do” column and pull it into the “Doing” column.

Notice that you can’t move backward on the Kanban board. That is, you can’t push a task back to a previous column. All you can do is pull tasks to the next column. After all, you don’t want to leave things half-done.  What you want to do is to get started on a task, and then see it through all the way to completion.

Some Modifications

As was stated at the very top of this blog post, Personal Kanban can be tailored to your specific needs. Some of the modifications you can make include the following:

  • Kanbans that are not whiteboards.
  • The number of columns that you use.
  • Additional specifications.

I explain of each of these modifications below.

Kanbans Other Than a Whiteboard

Although a lot of people use a whiteboard to create their Kanban, there are several other options. These include the following:

  • Use blue painter’s tape to create the outline of the board on a wall and then use Post-It notes for the tasks.
  • Create a virtual Kanban using websites like Trello or Kanban Flow
  • Create your Kanban in a sketchbook or notebook.

I recommend that you place your Kanban board up on the wall, whether you use painter’s tape or a whiteboard, so that you can look at your workflow simply by glancing up at the wall.

personal kanban

Additional Columns for Your Kanban Board

Although the most basic Personal Kanban board uses the three columns that have already been mentioned, you can add more columns to suit your own needs. For example, my Kanban has five columns. They are as follows:

  • Options – I conduct an “idea dump” and include all of the tasks that I have hanging around in my head in this column. I then have the option to decide which ones to work on.
  • To Do This Week– I pull the tasks from the “Options” column that I’m going to work on during the current week.
  • Doing – I pull two or three tasks from the “To Do This Week” column into the “Doing” column and get to work on them.
  • Blocked – If one of the tasks that I’m working on gets blocked for any reason—I’m waiting for a phone call, there’s something that I need to buy, and so on—I pull the task into this column.
  • Done – Once I’ve completed an item I pull it into this column.

Additional Specifications

You can also include additional requirements for your Kanban process. As an illustration, my goal is to get through everything I place in the “To Do This Week” column of the Kanban by the end of the week. In addition, I decide on a “deliverable” for each task.

Here are some examples:

  • Have a new post published on Daring to Live Fully.
  • Have created X number of videos for my course.
  • Have read and mind-mapped one book on learning how to learn.

At the end of each week I can look at the concrete deliverables that I’ve completed that week.


You can continuously modify your Kanban until you get the results that you want. It’s a powerful and effective tool which will allow you to double your productivity. Live your best life by getting more done with Personal Kanban.


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six sources of influence model

Make behavioral change 10x easier with the Six Sources of Influence Model.

It can be difficult to change your habits and behavior. This is particularly true when the behavior that you’re trying to change is long-standing. Fortunately, there are models you can use to make this easier.

One of these is the Six Sources of Influence Model. Research has found that those who used this model were 10 times more likely to produce profound behavior change.

You’ll find an explanation of the model, and how to apply it, below.

The Six Sources of Influence Model

The Six Source of Influence model consists of two columns and three rows. One column is for motivation, and the other column is for ability. The rows, in turn, represent the following:

  • The Individual — you.
  • Society — the people around you.
  • The Environment — your surroundings (nonhuman factors such as compensation systems, space, and technology).

More specifically, each of the squares of the model stands for the following:

onehouradayformula banner longThe Individual

  • 1. Personal Motivation—whether you want to do it. You increase your motivation by making things fun and enjoyable, and by making sure that the goal you’ve chosen is aligned with your values.
  • 2. Personal Ability—whether you can do it. New behaviors can be far more intellectually, physically, or emotionally challenging than they appear on the surface. Do you have the skills and the knowledge necessary to do what needs to be done? If not, can you acquire these skills and knowledge?


  • 3. Social Motivation—positive or negative influence by others. Are other people encouraging the right behavior and discouraging the wrong behavior? Peer pressure is powerful, even when you’re an adult.
  • 4. Social Ability—whether other people provide help to do it. Do others provide the necessary help, information, and resources? Is there someone who can make it easier for you to acquire the new habit or behavior? Can you hire a trainer, an instructor, or a coach?

The Environment

  • 5. Structural Motivation—whether the environment encourages you to do it. Is there a reward system in place? Is there some sort of negative consequence if you don’t follow through?
  • 6. Structural Ability—whether the environment supports you doing it. Are there enough cues for you to stay on course? Does the environment enable the right behaviors or discourage the wrong behaviors?

Here’s what the model looks like:

ix Sources of Infuences Model

In the next section I’ll show you an application of the model.

Application of the Six Sources of Influence Model

Al Switzler, co-founder of Vitalsmarts, LLC, gave a TED Talk in which he explains why it’s so easy to lose weight at a weight-loss retreat or resort, but then it’s difficult to keep the weight off once you’re back at home.

The reason is that, at the retreat, the six sources of influence are working to help you. However, once you’re back at home, most of the sources of influence work against you.

At the Retreat

Here’s how a weight-loss retreat uses the six sources of influence to help ensure your success in losing weight:

  1. Personal Motivation. The fact that you’re at a weight-loss retreat is evidence of how motivated you are to lose weight.
  2. Personal Ability. During your time at the retreat you get pamphlets explaining how the food that you’ll be eating will help you to lose weight, you go to cooking classes, and you get to attend lectures by world-renown weight-loss experts giving you tips and pointers on how to prepare healthy meals.
  3.  Social Motivation. Everyone else at the retreat is also trying to lose weight, so you all encourage each other. All of the participants support each other to stay on track.
  4. Social Ability. The staff at the retreat is very knowledgeable, and they’re available at any time to help you with whatever you need. They give you feedback and they motivate you to follow the program.
  5. Structural Motivation. The retreat probably has some sort of a reward system set up to encourage the participants to eat the right foods, attend exercise classes, go for walks on the retreat grounds, forego sweets, and so on.
  6. Structural Ability. Everything at the retreat is set up to help you along your weight-loss journey. A healthy breakfast is delivered to your room each morning, the calm surroundings are conducive to focusing on wellness, there’s always a hiking expedition or an exercise class you can join, and so on.

You can clearly see why it’s almost a certainty that you’ll succeed in losing weight at the retreat.

At Home

However, here’s what usually happens to the six sources of influence once you go home:

  1. Personal Motivation. You’re still motivated to continue losing weight and to keep the weight off, so at least this source of influence is still working in your favor.
  2. Personal Ability. You may struggle to replicate the meals that you ate at the retreat. The meals probably won’t taste anywhere as good as they did when the professionals were preparing them at the retreat. In addition, some of the ingredients may be difficult to find. This source of influence is now working against you.
  3. Social Motivation. Your friends are probably going to be calling you up constantly to join them for the all-you-can-eat buffet at the club, go for drinks, or celebrate someone’s birthday with cake and ice cream. Therefore, peer pressure will be working against you.
  4. Social Ability. If you don’t have anyone around you with weight loss expertise–such as a coach or a knowledgeable friend–then this source of influence won’t be working in your favor.
  5. Structural Motivation. There’s no incentive or reward system set up to energize, excite, and motivate you to continue with your weight-loss efforts.
  6. Structural Ability. Controlling your space will become much more difficult. It’s very likely that your family members will bring all sorts of junk food into the house. Therefore, every time you open the refrigerator you’ll have to struggle with the urge to eat a brownie or have some leftover pizza.

Can you see why it’s highly likely that you’ll gain all the weight back once you’re at home? There are more influences for gaining the weight back than there are for keeping it off. That is, unless you find a way to get the six sources of influence to work for you at home.

In the next section you’ll discover how I plan to use the Six Sources of Influence Model to help me achieve my goal of losing ten pounds.

My Application of the Model

I’ve decided that during the month of May I’m going to lose 10 pounds. The way in which I’m going to do this is by changing my eating habits (I already exercise for one-hour-a-day).

Here’s how I’m going to use the Six Sources of Influence Model to help me:

  1. Personal Motivation: May is my birthday month, and I’m committed to getting the next year of my life off to a great start. In addition, I’ll be choosing meals that are delicious, so I’ll look forward to meal time. Also, the meals will be easy-to-make, so that it doesn’t take too much of my time to prepare them.
  2. Personal Ability: Although I’m not much of a cook, I ordered and received two recipe books: 100 Days of Real Food and Green Smoothies for Life. During the month of April I’ll be trying out the recipes in these books and choosing the ones that I like best. Fortunately, I already have the willpower and organizational skills that I need to succeed with this goal.
  3. Social Motivation: My sister is also trying to change her eating habits, so we’re going to be each other’s support system.
  4. Social Ability: If I find that I’m having trouble with my goal, I’m going to hire a nutritionist to help me.
  5. Structural Motivation: I’m going to create a reward system for myself and give myself a gold star for every healthy meal or snack I eat, and lose a star for every time I eat something I’m not supposed to. Once I’ve earned 100 stars I’m going to get myself a great new pair of jeans as a reward.
  6. Structural Ability: I’m going to make it easier for myself to achieve my goal by keeping my kitchen stocked with all of the ingredients that I need to make healthy, delicious meals for myself. In addition, I’m always going to have healthy snacks on hand, such as grapes, almonds, and popcorn. Finally, I’m not going to allow myself to bring any junk food into the house.

Other Applications of the Model

The Six Sources of Influence Model isn’t just for changing your own habits and behaviors.

  • You can also use it to influence the behavior of others, such as your kids, your spouse, and other people who surround you. Here’s an example of getting kids to save by using the model.
  • Organizations often use this model in order to change their employees’ behavior. Here are some insights on how leaders can get better results from their employees with the model.
  • Even social problems, such as child prostitution in Kenya, can be solved with the Six Source of Influence Model. You can see that application of the model in this TED Talk.


When I first came across this model, it was an Aha! moment for me. Now, whenever I’m trying to adopt a new habit or change a behavior, I take out a piece of paper, draw the model on it, and begin planning how I can use the model to help ensure my success.

Live your best life by using the Six Sources of Influence Model to change your habits and behavior.


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mental detox

Unclutter and detox your mind with a 7-day mental diet.

At the start of the New Year or as each season rolls around, many people follow a cleansing diet, or a detox, in order to get their bodies in tip-top shape. These diets normally limit processed, high-fat, and sugary foods, and replace them with more whole foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes.

However, few people think of following a mental detox. In essence, your thoughts are brain food. A mental detox consists of limiting thoughts that trigger negative emotions, and substituting them with thoughts that lead to feelings of peace and joy.

I came across the idea of a mental detox in a pamphlet I found online titled “The Seven Day Mental Diet”, which was written by a spiritual leader of the 20th century named Emmet Fox. Here’s Fox:

“The way our bodies work is based upon the food we put into them. The mind is no different. . . Everything in your life today is conditioned by your habitual thinking. The way you have thought in the past has led you to where you are right now.”

The diet consists of the following: for 7 consecutive days, you’re going to carefully select your thoughts. During those seven days you will not hold on to any negative thoughts. If you’re willing to take this challenge you’ll discover what to do, below.

The Three Rules of the 7-Day Mental Detox

In order to follow the 7-day mental detox you have to follow three rules. Here they are:

First Rule. For seven consecutive days you will not dwell on any unresourceful thoughts or emotions. These include the following:

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  • Thoughts that make you feel angry or frustrated.
  • Thoughts that make you feel jealous of others.
  • Thoughts that make you feel stressed or anxious.
  • Thoughts that make you feel inferior or insecure.
  • Thoughts that make you feel sorrow or despair.
  • Negative thoughts about yourself, someone else, or the circumstances you find yourself in.
  • Thoughts that fill you with regrets about the past or fear about the future.

Here’s how Emmet Fox defines negative thinking:

“Negative thinking is when you are dwelling on failure, disappointment, or trouble; any thought of criticism, or jealousy, or spite or condemnation of others or yourself, or any thought of sickness or accident. In short, any kind of limitation or pessimistic thinking. Any thought that concerns you are anyone else that is not positive or constructive.”

Notice that the rule isn’t that you can’t have any negative thoughts, but that you’re not to dwell on them. As Emmet Fox points out, you can’t control the first thought that enters your mind. However, you can control the second one, and the ones after that.

Second Rule. When you catch yourself having negative thoughts during the 7-day period, and you will, immediately snap yourself out of it and shift your focus to something else. You can do any of the following:

  • Tell yourself, “Stop!”, to interrupt the cycle.
  • Accept that you’re having negative thoughts, and then allow them to drift through your awareness like clouds drifting through the sky. Simply allow the negative thoughts to float by without placing your attention on them.
  • Distract yourself by doing something else. You can read, exercise, get to work on a mentally challenging task, call an upbeat friend, turn on some music and sing along, and so on.
  • Change your perspective. Ask yourself: “Is this really true?” and  “Is there another way to see or interpret this?”
  • Shift into problem-solving mode.  If your negative thoughts are warning you that there’s something wrong, or that there’s a problem that needs to be addressed, shift your focus to looking for a solution to the problem.
  • Keep in mind that, due to the negativity bias, your brain is always on the alert for anything that could go wrong. For  every negative thing your brain calls your attention to, come up with a list of five things that are going right.

Third Rule. If you catch yourself indulging in or dwelling on unresourceful thoughts, don’t beat yourself up. Just switch your focus to more empowering thoughts immediately. However, if you find yourself ruminating on the negative thought for more than a minute, you have to start over. Wait until the next morning and start the 7-day mental detox again from Day One.

Here’s Fox:

 “As you embark on any diet, you know that your mind plays tricks on you. You crave the old food you use to partake of. This diet is no different, you will find your mind wanting to go toward the negative, wanting to say something or gossip about someone or something. Sometimes it will be exhausting to fight the urges you have to just say one thing, much like just having one taste of that delicious cake when you are on a food diet. So if you make a false start, or fall off the wagon, you must stop and start again the next day.”

Four Tips for This Challenge

Here are four tips that will help you succeed with the 7-day mental detox challenge:

1. Set Your Intention. Begin each morning by setting the intention to manage your negative thoughts throughout the day. You can set this intention by saying the following to yourself:

  • Just for today I will carefully monitor what I’m thinking.
  • Just for today I will only think thoughts that are beneficial to me.
  • Just for today I will challenge any negative thoughts I may have and replace them with more empowering thoughts.
  • Just for today if I find myself dwelling on a problem I will immediately switch my focus to looking for a solution.

2. Meditate. Meditation will allow you to separate your attention from your thoughts. Once you’re observing your thoughts, you can ask yourself questions such as the following:

  • Who is choosing these thoughts?
  • Are these thoughts true?
  • Are these thoughts serving me well?
  • Are these the thoughts I’d choose to be thinking?
  • What thoughts would fill my mind with peace and joy?

3. Use Affirmations. Say the following to yourself:

  • I can consciously choose what I think.
  • My thoughts don’t control me; I’m in control of my thoughts.
  • I can change what I’m thinking at any time.
  • I can always choose different thoughts.
  • I choose thoughts that serve me well.
  • I’m training my brain to go in a different direction when negative thoughts pop into my head.
  • I may not be able to control the first thought that enters my mind, but I can control the second.
  • I’m slowly rewiring my brain in a positive way by choosing better thoughts.

mental detox

4. Fill Your Mind With Positivity. Another great way to set yourself up for success with the 7-day mental detox is by spending one to five minutes each morning reading or watching something inspirational or motivational. This can include things like the following:

  • Reading inspirational quotes.
  • Watching a motivational YouTube video.
  • Listening to an uplifting podcast.
  • If you’re religious, reading from the Bible or other holy book.
  • Listening to an audio program by someone you admire, such as Earl Nightingale, Jim Rohn, or Wayne Dyer.


Are you up for the challenge of following a 7-day mental detox? If so, choose a date and get started! Live your best life by detoxing your mind.

Read Next: Ten Ways to Declutter Your Mind and Free Up Mental Space


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perfect day

What does your perfect day look like?

Your life is made up of years, your years are made up of months, your months are made up of weeks, and your weeks are made up of days. If you get your days right, everything else falls into place. And how do you get your days right? By planning your perfect day.

onehouradayformula banner longThe process, or exercise, you’ll be reading about in this post will allow you to proactively create or design the day you want to have, instead of just reacting to the things, people, and events around you. Planning your perfect day will do all of the following for you:

  • Make you more productive.
  • Allow you to work steadily on your career and personal goals.
  • Enable you to make better use of your time.
  • Allow you to make sure that you stay focused on your priorities.
  • Help ensure that you’re living on purpose and maximizing your days.
  • Act as a mechanism for achieving a good life-work balance.
  • Improve your mood and well-being.
  • Help you to design your perfect life.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? You’ll discover how to plan your perfect day below.

Ten Initial Questions

Before you plan your perfect day, ask yourself these ten questions:

  1. What’s the one thing that I must accomplish today for this to be a successful day? What’s my primary goal for the day? What am I committed to making happen today?
  2. What three things do I want to get done in addition to my must-do item?
  3. What will I do for my health today?
  4. How will I grow today?
  5. How will I stimulate my mind today?
  6. How will I increase my wealth today?
  7. How will I have fun/play/laugh today?
  8. Who will I spend time with today?
  9. What am I looking forward to today?
  10. How do I want to feel today, and what do I need to do to make sure that it happens?

Then, with the answers to these ten questions in mind, head on over to the next section and plan your perfect day.

Questions for Planning Your Perfect Day

Take out a pen and a piece of paper and answer the following:

In order to have a perfect day. . .

  • At what time do you wake up?
  • What’s the first thing you do after waking up?
  • What morning routine (morning success ritual) do you follow in order to feel more centered, focused, happy and powerful? Do you do some stretching or get some exercise? Do you meditate, journal, or do some yoga? Do you spend some unhurried time with your spouse and/or children?
  • What do you have for breakfast, and where do you have your breakfast? Do you have breakfast alone or with someone else?
  • What tasks do you work on during the morning hours? Where do you work on these tasks? (Keep in mind that you probably want to get started with your must-do task for the day in the morning.)
  • Do you have a mid-morning snack? If so, what is it?
  • Is there anything else you do before lunch?
  • What do you have for lunch, and where do you have your lunch? Do you eat alone? Do you eat with friends, colleagues, or potential clients? Do you go home and have lunch with your family?
  • What do you do immediately after lunch? Do you follow a short after-lunch routine to make sure your day is on track and that you’re making the best use of your time, energy, and other resources?
  • What tasks do you work on in the afternoon? Where do you work on these tasks?
  • Do you have an afternoon snack? If so, what is it?
  • What else do you do in the afternoon?
  • At what time do you end your workday?
  • How do you end your workday? Do you organize your desk, tie up loose ends, and disconnect?
  • How do you spend your evenings?
  • What do you have for dinner, and where do you have your dinner? Who do you have dinner with?
  • What do you do after dinner? Who do you spend that time with?
  • What bedtime routine do you follow to wrap up your day on a positive note, set yourself up for success the next day, and get ready for a restful night’s sleep?
  • At what time do you go to sleep?
  • What’s the last thing you think about before you drift off to sleep?

Keep in mind that even if you plan your day it’s highly unlikely that everything will go exactly as planned. However, your odds of having a good day will be much higher with a perfect day plan than if you just let things happen and allow other people to run your day.

Review Your Results

After a week of planning your perfect day, go over how things are going. Review how successful you’re being in sticking to your perfect day plan by asking yourself questions like the ones you’ll find below:

  • Are your days going as planned?
  • If not, why not? Who or what keeps getting in the way?
  • What do you need to do so that you can better adhere to your perfect day plan?

Once you’ve answered these questions make any necessary adjustments to help you improve your ability to stick to your perfect day plan.


How you spend your days will determine what your life will be like.  Live your best life by planning your perfect day. Then, make sure that you get to work on following your plan.


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goal achievement

Follow these ten steps for guaranteed goal achievement.

At the beginning of the year I encouraged my readers to set the resolution of reading Leo Tolstoy’s magnum opus, “War and Peace”. It’s one of the goals that I set for myself this year, and I’m doing very well with it. I sat down to analyze the process that I’m using to work on this goal, and I came up with a ten-step process which can be applied to any goal.

I explain the ten-step process below in case anyone out there needs some help keeping up with their goals and resolutions. I’m also going to use this analysis to modify my approach for a couple of other goals that aren’t coming along so well.

So, without further ado, below you’ll find ten steps for guaranteed goal achievement.

1. Choose a Goal That Motivates You.

onehouradayformula banner longOne of the key elements of successful goal achievement is motivation. When you set a goal, make sure that it’s important to you, and that it has value. That is, the goal must have clearly defined benefits. In addition, the goal should be relevant to your life’s bigger picture. When you set a goal make sure that you’re highly motivated to achieve that goal by doing the following:

  • Ask yourself if you feel pushed to set the goal based on the expectations of others, or if it’s something that you feel pulled to do based on your own needs, wants, and aspirations. Obviously, you want to make sure that your goal falls into the second group.
  • Ask yourself the following: “From 1 to 10, how badly do I want this goal?”
  • If you had to explain to a friend why you’re working on this particular goal, what would you say?
  • Write down all of the benefits that you expect to receive if you achieve your goal.

Lastly, ask yourself how your goal fits into your life’s bigger picture. As an illustration, reading “War and Peace” fits into my medium-range goal of reading the most important books of Russian literature. That, in turn, fits into my long-term goal of reading the 365 most important books ever written.

Once you’re sure that you’re very motivated to pursue the goal that you’ve set for yourself, move on to the second step of the process.

2. Make It Specific.

I’m sure you’ve heard the following a million times: vague goals produce vague results. If you want positive, unambiguous results, your goals have to be specific. Below you’ll see how the goal of “Read ‘War and Peace'” goes from being extremely vague, to being incredibly precise and specific:

  • I want to improve myself.
  • I want to read more.
  • I’m going to read the classics.
  • I’m going to read the classics on my list of “365 Classics to Read Before I Die”.
  • I’m going to read the Russian Classics on my list of “365 Classics to Read Before I Die”.
  • I’m going to read Leo Tolstoy’s two greatest works: “War and Peace” and “Anna Karenina”.
  • I’m going to read “War and Peace”.
  • I’m going to read the Maude translation of “War and Peace”.
  • I’m going to read the Maude translation of “War and Peace” found here.
  • I’m going to read the copy of “War and Peace” I’m holding in my hand (after I had purchased and received the copy that I wanted from Amazon).

Look at your goal and ask yourself where it would fit in the above continuum in terms of specificity. Keep asking yourself, “How can I make this more specific?” until you can practically hold the goal in your hand.

3. Set a Deadline.

Deadlines are one of life’s great motivators. They’re vital for getting things done. My deadline for reading “War and Peace” is December 31st 2017. Whatever goal you’re working on, make sure it has a deadline.

If you need some additional inspiration, focus on the first four words of deadline: “dead”. Pretend that if you don’t achieve your goal by the deadline, you’ll be shot dead.

4. Set Up Milestones.

A milestone is a transition from one phase to another. When a goal is far-off in the distance, milestones act as signposts that allow you to track your progress and make sure that you’re on the right path. They also give you goals with shorter time-frames to shoot for, a reason to celebrate each time you achieve a milestone, and the motivation to keep going.

The version of “War and Peace” that I’m reading is divided into four books. Therefore, I’m using each book as a milestone. I already read Book One. Since I read Book One within the time period that I had allotted for reading it, I know that I’m on track toward the achievement of my goal.

5. Reward Yourself.

Rewards are a great incentive for getting yourself to work on your goals. Ideally, the process of achieving your goal will be the reward in of itself. In my case, I love to read. However, I also incorporate additional “fun” elements into my reading time.

Most days I’ll read at a club that I belong to — I sit next to the pool, put my feet on the grass, and have a capuccino and a papaya shake as I read.  Enjoying the process that will allow me to achieve my goal makes it much more likely that I’ll keep going until I cross the finish line at the end of the year.

In addition, I’m going to give myself a book-related reward each time I reach a milestone. When I finished reading Book One I got myself a tin of book darts which I’m using as book marks. Future rewards will include a book lover’s mug, a cushion with a literary quote on it, and a t-shirt that says:

“Yes, I’ve read War and Peace”.

6. Break the Goal Down Into Small, Achievable Steps.

One of the main reasons that people procrastinate on their goals is that they’re not sure how to proceed. In order to work toward the achievement of a goal, you have to know exactly what to do. That is, you have to break the goal down into small, achievable steps.

In the case of my goal of reading “War and Peace”, I broke it down as follows: Read one chapter of “War and Peace”—each of which is approximately 4 pages long—every day.

Any goal can be broken down into small steps. If you’re not sure how to proceed, do some research and develop a plan. Look at the following:

  • If your goal is to write a novel, write a page every day.
  • If your goal is to run a 5K, find a plan like Couch to 5k and follow along.
  • If your goal is to learn French, purchase a program with a good reputation–such as Assimil–and complete one lesson each day.
  • If your goal is to learn to code, choose a language to learn–such as C, Ruby, or Python–, find a great online course that teaches that language, and complete a lesson a day.

Once you’ve broken down your goal, set a performance goal. In other words, write it as a task. Here’s my daily performance goal or task: “Read today’s chapter of ‘War and Peace'”.

7. Schedule It.

Once you know exactly what you’re going to do each day, you have to decide when you’re going to do it. In other words, you have to schedule it. I read my chapter of “War and Peace” every day after lunch. As soon as I’m done with lunch I wash my hands, grab the book, and start reading.

Make sure that during your scheduled time you work on your goal without any distractions. When I’m going to read I sit away from my laptop, and I turn off my cell phone. That way I’m not tempted to check my email, go on Twitter, answer calls, and so on. My reading time is 100% for reading.

8. Measure Your Progress.

There are studies that show that making progress toward your goals improves well-being and increases levels of happiness. By measuring your progress as you work toward the achievement of your goals you’ll be making sure that you stay on track and you’ll be increasing your self-satisfaction.

I created and printed out a calendar that shows all of the days of the year on one page. Every day I write down on the calendar the number of the chapter of “War and Peace” that I read that day. That way I can easily see at a glance how I’m progressing on my goal.

9. If You Fall Off the Wagon, Get Back On.

It’s almost a certainty that while you’re pursuing your goal you’ll fall off the wagon (at least once). In my case, I was almost mugged in mid-January. I managed to fight off the mugger and run away, but I lost my copy of “War and Peace” in the struggle.

Since I live in Panama, I had to order another copy of the book from Amazon, and it took a couple of weeks for the new book to arrive. Therefore, I fell a couple of weeks behind on my reading. When the new book arrived I started reading two or three chapters a day until I caught up. On March 8th I finally caught up, and then I went back to reading one chapter a day.

If you do fall behind on your progress toward the achievement of your goal, get back to work as soon as you can. Then, do whatever you can to catch up. Make sure that you don’t let setbacks derail you from your objective of achieving your goal.

10. Find a Way to Hold Yourself Accountable.

Accountability is making a public commitment, and then accepting responsibility for doing what is necessary in order to achieve that obligation.

As I indicated at the top of this blog post, during the first week of January of this year I announced on this blog that I was going to read “War and Peace” this year. In addition, I am now honestly reporting that I am up-to date on that commitment.

A great strategy for keeping yourself accountable is to work on your goal with others.  I’m following along with Brian E. Denton who is writing a brief reflection of each chapter of “War and Peace” every day of this year on Medium.

Most days I leave a comment on Brian’s posts, and a lot of the time Brian responds to my comments. I also read comments left by others who are also working on this goal. This makes me feel like I’m part of a community that’s reading “War and Peace”, which helps me with my accountability.

On the subject of accountability, I wrote on this blog that Iwould finish an eBook on how to learn faster by December 31st of 2016. I did write the eBook, but I’m now applying the process that I developed in said eBook to learn new skills so that I can offer proof that it does, indeed, work.


Today it’s March 12th and I’m happy to say that I’m on track with my goal of reading “War and Peace” this year. If you need some help achieving your goals, use the ten step process explained above. Live your best life by getting really good at goal achievement.


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things money can’t buy

Money can buy lots of things, but there are some things money can’t buy.

Benjamin Franklin once said the following: “Money has never made man happy, nor will it; there is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more of it one has the more one wants.” Studies show that he was right, to a certain extent.

To be happy we need to have enough money to cover our basic needs. Worrying about having enough money to put food on the table, or being able to pay medical bills in case a family member falls ill, is highly stressful, and can negatively affect happiness levels.

In addition, a rising salary can impact our wellbeing, up to a certain amount (about $75,000). After that amount, having more money has less and less of an impact on happiness.

But the bottom line is that money can’t but it all. In fact, there are many things which are vital to our happiness and well-being that simply can’t be bought. Below you’ll find 25 things money can’t buy.

25 Things Money Can’t Buy

onehouradayformula banner long1. Money can buy medicine, but it can’t buy health.

2. Money can buy a bigger house, but it can’t buy a home.

3. Money can buy acquaintances who will be happy to partake of your largess, but not friends who will stick by you through thick and thin.

4. Money can buy adulation but not respect.

5. Money can buy companionship (and sex), but not love.

6. Money can buy a position, but not the satisfaction of knowing that your hard work payed off, and that you’ve earned every promotion you’ve gotten.

7. Money can buy books, but it can’t buy knowledge, wisdom, and experience.

8. Money can buy a life of leisure, but it can’t buy purpose, passion, or meaning.

9. Money can buy the latest gadgets and the coolest toys for your children, but it can’t buy well-adjusted kids.

10. Money can buy someone’s services, but it can’t buy their loyalty.

11. Money can buy thrills and distractions, but it can’t buy serenity and inner peace.

12. Money can buy the trappings of high society, but it can’t buy character, integrity, morals, or class.

13. Money can buy flattery, but not self-esteem.

14. Money can buy the appearance of a happy life, but it can’t buy true happiness.

15. Money can buy material goods, but it can’t buy appreciation for the simple things.

16. Money can buy extravagant vacations to exotic places, but it can’t buy a close-knit family.

17. Money can buy designer clothes and make-up, but it can’t buy inner beauty.

18. Money can buy gifts for your significant other, but it can’t buy the intimacy that comes from getting to know someone really well, and being with someone who truly listens to you and understands you.

19. Money can buy jewelry, but it can’t buy self-love.

20. Money can buy solutions to problems, but money can’t buy the confidence that comes from mastering a new skill, or overcoming a challenge.

21. Money can buy tickets to expensive charity events, but it can’t buy the feeling that you get when you go out of your way to lend someone a helping hand, or make someone’s day a little brighter.

22. Money can buy expensive watches, but it can’t buy time.

23. Money can buy fancy $100-per-place-setting china, as well as etiquette lessons so you know which fork to use when, but it can’t buy manners, civility, and decency.

24. Money can buy experiences, but it can’t buy the mindfulness that is necessary so that you can be present, and enjoy whatever it is that you’re doing in the moment.

25. Money can buy big television sets and fast cars, but it can’t buy the well-being that comes from being able to manage and control your emotions.


George Lorimer once said the following:

“It is good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it’s good too, to check up once in a while and make sure you haven’t lost the things money can’t buy.”

Live your best life by making sure that in your efforts to make more money, you’re not losing sight of those precious things that money can’t buy.


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reframe your life stories

The stories you tell yourself create your life.

We all tell ourselves stories. The stories that we tell ourselves establish our self-identity, and the “kind of person” that we are.  They also give our lives meaning, help us to make sense of the world, and guide our actions.

One of the stories that I tell myself took place during Christmastime here in Panama some years ago, and it goes like this:

onehouradayformula banner longIt was three days before Christmas and “La Arrocha”—a popular pharmacy with a large toy section—had set up a gift-wrapping station right outside the store. There was a frenzy of activity as shoppers selected the gift-wrapping paper and bows that they wanted and the clerks wrapped dolls, Lego sets, snow cone machines, and so on.

I had bought some toys for my young relatives, and I was standing in line waiting for them to be wrapped. As all this was going on, there was a little beggar girl walking around excitedly watching everything that was going on. She would stare at the toys and the colorful paper they were being wrapped in, with a big smile on her face.

People were stepping around her and acting like she wasn’t there. Judging by her tattered clothing and unkempt appearance, it was abundantly clear that the little girl wasn’t getting anything for Christmas. At that moment, I thought to myself: “Every child should get a toy for Christmas”.

When my gifts had been wrapped, I walked over to the corner the girl had moved to. I handed her one of the gifts I had bought–a Barbie–and I wished her a Merry Christmas.

This story tells me that I’m kind. And when something happens that reminds me of the story, I feel good about myself. However, there are other stories that I tell myself where I don’t come out looking so good. In fact, some of my stories make me feel unhappy, uncomfortable, and even ashamed.

The stories that we tell ourselves can be limiting— such as, “I’m not a math person”–, and they can even be destructive. There are a lot of people who tell themselves stories that make them think: “I’ll never amount to anything”; “I’m a loser”; or “I ruin everything I touch”.

We need to start paying attention to the stories that we tell ourselves and to others. The key is to remember that we’re the storytellers–the narrators–and we can spin our stories in any direction we want. That is, we can reframe our stories so that they serve and support us.

After all, it’s not the objective world that influences us, but how we represent and interpret the world. In other words, what really matters is not what happens to us, but the stories that we tell ourselves about what took place.

Below you’ll find 4 ways to reframe your life stories so that you can start creating a better life for yourself.

1. Write Through a Challenging Problem

Dr. James Pennebaker– a research psychologist at the University of Texas –is the author of Writing to Heal: A Guided Journal for Recovering from Trauma & Emotional Upheaval. In his book he describes the method he developed over many years  which consists of using writing exercises to help people deal with difficult events in their lives.

To try Pennebaker’s method, do the following:

  • Think of something that happened to you more than eighteen months ago, that you just can’t seem to shake off.
  • Set aside 15 to 20 minutes at the end of the day to write about that specific problem. As you write, don’t pause or second-guess yourself—just write without stopping. Write only for yourself. Be completely open with yourself to get the full benefit of this exercise.
  • Do this for four days in a row. (You should write about the issue that’s bothering you for at least four days, but you can go on for longer if you wish.)

When people try this exercise what they write at first is often jumbled and disorganized. But then the story starts to take shape, and they’re able to make sense of the event and give it meaning. Ask yourself what you learned from the experience, and what you lost and gained. Also, examine how these events from your past will guide your thoughts and actions in the future.

Studies show that people who engage in expressive writing generally report feeling happier and less negative than before applying the writing exercise.

Please keep the “Flip Out Rule” in mind. If you feel that a topic is simply too painful for you to write about, and that you’ll “flip out” if you do, then don’t write about it. Write about something else and see if you can write about the painful topic at some future date.

Reframe your life stories by writing through challenging problems.

2. Write About the Present Chapter of Your Life

Kim Schneiderman is a psychotherapist, columnist and workshop facilitator in New York City. She’s also the author of “Step Out of Your Story: Writing Exercises to Reframe and Transform Your Life”. She argues that there are many ways to tell the same story, and we should always try to find the best version of the story–one that makes us feel hopeful.

Here’s a quote from her book:

“Stuck in the same old story, many of us remain so entrenched in tales of victimization and martyrdom that we can scarcely imagine an alternate, positive or redemptive reading of the text of our lives. Perhaps because we have been taught to view life through one particular lens, we simply don’t see other, more inspiring versions of our tale that could liberate us.”

Think of a challenge you’re currently facing and write a story about it.  Schneiderman recommends that you write in the third person. That is, instead of using the pronouns “I” or “me”, use “he” or “she” and use your name.

Start off by defining your protagonist (you, of course). Write 5 to 7 sentences about yourself and answer questions such as the following:

  • What are the basic facts about the protagonist? Age? Gender? Marital Status? Current Residence? Job?
  • What was his or her childhood like? How has the protagonist been impacted by their childhood?
  • What are some of the protagonist’s strengths? What are some of the protagonist’s weaknesses?

Now think of a difficult situation that you’re currently facing. What do you want? What is the outcome that you’re after? What have you done so far to try to achieve that outcome?

Then, identify the antagonist (the villain). Every story has an antagonist, or an opposing force that’s creating conflict in the life of the protagonist or getting in their way. It can be a person, circumstance, or event; it can even be an aspect of the protagonist’s personality. Here are some examples:

  • A person – a boss who steals credit for your work, a lover who cheated on you, or a mother who’s constantly putting you down.
  • An illness, whether physical or mental.
  • Nature—a storm, an earthquake, or a struggle in the wild.
  • An adverse situation, such as a period of unemployment.
  • The culture – society demanding that certain people behave in certain ways.
  • Something within you that holds you back –for example, your tendency to procrastinate, give in to fear, or your indecision.

Next, identify the supporting characters. A protagonist always has people who are helping them to overcome the challenge that they’re facing. These supporting characters can be friends, family members, mentors, and so on.

Finally, think of how the conflict may be resolved. Also, ask yourself how the situation that you’re currently facing can help you to learn and grow. Then, get to work on creating the ending that you want for your story.

If you’re currently telling yourself a story in which you’re a victim, reframe the story. Remind yourself of the following:

  • You’re the protagonist of your story–the hero.
  • You’re facing an adversary, which is creating conflict in your life.
  • You’re working on defeating your adversary in order to resolve the conflict and get the result that you’re after.

And remember, until you get what you’re after, the story isn’t over.

3. Change an Unempowering Story to An Empowering One

Michael Hyatt—a popular blogger and author–explains that at the age of 29 he became vice-president of marketing for a large publishing house. It was a huge step up, especially for someone so young, and he felt that he was in over his head. Michael was convinced that the powers-that-be would soon discover that they had made a mistake by promoting him.

Whenever he had to attend a meeting, Michael would sweat profusely and his hands would get ice cold. He would do everything he could to try and hide these symptoms of his nervousness. This included doing things like the following:

  • Wearing two shirts to meetings, hoping that the first shirt would soak up the sweat.
  • Washing his hands with warm water right before entering meetings so people who shook hands with him wouldn’t notice how cold his hands were.

However, Michael soon realized that the root of his problem lay in the story he had come up with. By telling himself that he was a fake and that he would soon be found out, he was stressing himself to the point that his body was giving him away. That’s when he decided to change his story.

Michael started telling himself that his youth gave him an advantage since he was energetic and had fresh, novel ideas. In addition, he was a fast learner and a hard worker, and any mistakes he made he would simply learn from and correct along the way.

Once he started to tell himself an empowering story, instead of a disempowering one, Michael was able to relax in his new position. His bodily symptoms stopped, and he ended up doing a great job.

Ask yourself the following:

  • What disempowering stories are you telling yourself?
  • How can you turn those disempowering stories into empowering ones?

Reframe your life stories by changing disempowering stories into empowering ones.

4. Create New Stories

Your mind is always observing you. If you want your mind to start telling positive stories about you, go out and do something positive. Look at the following:

  • Do you want your mind to tell stories about what a good person you are? Go out and help someone.
  • Do you want your mind to tell stories of grit and perseverance about you? Think of a goal that you gave up because things got tough and take it up again. Stay with it until you succeed.
  • Do you want your mind to tell stories that make you sound daring and adventurous? Go on an adventure.

Always be on the lookout for opportunities to create positive stories about yourself and your life.


Reframe your life stories with the four techniques explained above. Live your best life by telling yourself better stories.


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personality chart

A personality chart can help you become the person you want to be.

A few days ago I discovered a TV show called Westworld. Westworld is a theme park populated by incredibly life-like androids—called “hosts” –who play the typical characters that existed in the American Wild West:

  • Cowboys;
  • Ranchers;
  • Saloon keepers;
  • Bandits;
  • Lawmen;
  • Prostitutes; and so on.

Humans visit this world in order to live out their cowboy fantasies (with the androids catering to their every whim).

onehouradayformula banner longGradually, the androids become more and more self-aware. Maeve Millay, a brothel madam, is one of the first hosts to realize the true nature of her reality: she’s an android who’s being controlled by humans and being used for their entertainment.  In Episode 5 of the first season, Maeve surprises one of the technicians—Felix– by “waking up” while he’s repairing her after her latest “death”. In the next episode, Felix explains to Mauve how the hosts are created, codified, and maintained.

He also explains to her how they’re given personalities to match the character that they’ll be playing in the theme park. Maeve is shown a chart with 20 different personality traits on it, with a rating from 0 to 20 for each one.

Here are the 20 personality traits on the chart:

  • Bulk Apperception
  • Candor
  • Vivacity
  • Coordination
  • Meekness
  • Humility
  • Cruelty
  • Self-Preservation
  • Patience
  • Decisiveness
  • Imagination
  • Curiosity
  • Aggression
  • Loyalty
  • Empathy
  • Tenacity
  • Courage
  • Sensuality
  • Charm
  • Humor

Here’s what Maeve’s personality chart looks like:

personality chart

And here’s Felix’s explanation of the chart:

“It’s your personality on a 20-point scale. Like, ‘coordination’: if you’ve got a 5 that means you’re clumsy as hell. But if you got a 15 that means you’re an athlete.”

Maeve is unhappy with the rating she’s been given on some of the traits on her personality chart, and she asks that they be changed.  That is, she asks for, and receives, a personality upgrade.

I was thinking about this idea of a personality chart, and how it could be applied to self-improvement (because that’s what happens when you’re a self-improvement blogger). It occurred to me that a personality chart could be a great personal development tool.

Below you’ll discover how to create your own personality chart, and how to use it to become the person you want to be—that is, to give yourself a personality upgrade.

How Is Personality Determined?

If the hosts’ personalities on Westworld are determined by their programmers, what is a human being’s personality dependent on? An individual’s personality depends on their brain structure; patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors; and their levels of different hormones and neurotransmitters. These are  influenced by four factors:

  • Heredity;
  • Physical environment;
  • Culture; and
  • Particular experiences.

That is, an individual’s personality is based on their genes interacting with their environment.

Can A Person Change Their Personality?

If the programmers on Westworld want to change a host’s personality, all they have to do is change the rating for the personality trait that they want to modify. So, for example, if one of the hosts isn’t interacting well with the visitors to the theme park, the programmers can choose to give that host more charm, humor, or sensuality.

But can a person change his/her personality? I would say “yes” from personal experience. In addition, there are scientific studies that back me up.

A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that when study participants changed their daily behavior to match the personality changes that they wanted to make, they were able to make significant personality changes over the course of the 16-week study.

In another study–from the University of Manchester and the London School of Economics–the lead researcher, Chris Boyce, had the following to say:

“We found that our personalities can and do change over time — something that was considered improbable until now — and that these personality changes are strongly related to changes in our wellbeing. Our research suggests that focusing on who we are and how we relate to the world around us has the potential to unlock vast improvements in our wellbeing.”

How to Create Your Personality Chart

Creating a personality chart is a three-step process. The three steps are explained below.

Step One. Determine the Personality Traits to Measure.

The first step in creating your personality chart is to determine the personality traits that you’re going to measure. I suggest that you measure the following 20 personality traits:

  1. Charisma – the ability to attract, charm, and influence those around you.
  2. Perseverance—the ability to keep going despite setbacks and obstacles.
  3. Confidence – belief in your ability to deal effectively with the world.
  4. Compassion – sympathy for the suffering of others (or yourself) and wanting to alleviate that suffering.
  5. Courage – acting despite fear.
  6. Humor – the ability to be amused, and be amusing to others.
  7. Agreeableness – being kind, approachable, and easy to get along with.
  8. Resilience – the ability to bounce back from adversity.
  9. Extraversion – being high energy and sociable.
  10. Aggression – being forceful and assertive.
  11. Decisiveness – the ability to make decisions quickly and effectively.
  12. Integrity – being honest and having strong moral principles.
  13. Self-Discipline – the ability to stay focused and do what needs to be done.
  14. Patience – the ability to tolerate delay, difficulty, or annoyance.
  15. Curiosity – having a strong desire to learn new things and being open to new experiences.
  16. Ambition – having a strong desire to achieve.
  17. Optimism – having the disposition to look at the more favorable side of events, and having the expectation that things will work out well.
  18. Leadership – the ability to inspire, motivate, and lead other people.
  19. Conscientiousness – being responsible, having high impulse control, and being dependable.
  20. Neuroticism – being emotionally unstable and anxious, and having a tendency to overreact.

Step Two. Rate Yourself on Each Personality Trait.

The second step is to rate yourself on each personality trait on a scale from 1 to 20. There are three different approaches you can use for this.

  1. Rate yourself subjectively. Just ask yourself: “How would I rate myself on each of these personality traits?”
  2. Ask someone you know well to rate you. You can also ask several people for their input and write down the average rating that you receive from them for each of the personality traits.
  3. Find a test you can use to rate yourself on each of the 20 character traits. For example, here’s a test for rating how confident you are.

Step Three. Create Your Chart.

The third step is to create your chart. Do the following:

  • Draw a circle and divide it into 20 segments.
  • Label each segment so that each one represents one of the 20 personality traits you’re measuring.
  • Then, label each spoke of the wheel from 1 to 20, where 1 is closest to the center of the circle, and 20 is the outer edge of the circle.
  • For each personality trait, place an “x” on your score or rating for that trait. Lastly, connect all your marks.

And, there you have it: you’ve created a personality chart.

How to Change Your Personality

Once you’ve created your personality chart you can analize it and determine what changes you would like to make. As an illustration, you may decide that you need to be more resilient and courageous, and that you need to be less aggressive.

Then, create your game plan. For example, as I explain in my post on 19 Ways to Be More Conscientious, if you want to be more conscientious you should take action such as the following:

  • Specify a day, time, and place each month for paying bills.
  • Create a budget and start monitoring your spending.
  • Clean up after yourself.
  • Start planning your day the evening before.
  • Every Sunday plan your weekly menus, go grocery shopping, and do some prep work so that you can cook and eat healthy meals all week.
  • Don’t take on more commitments than you can handle.
  • Finish what you start.

I’ve also written about concrete steps you can take to be more resilient, more charismatic (and interesting), and more optimistic. For the other character traits, conduct your own online research, find a good book on Amazon, or find a self-development course that will help you to craft a game plan on how to proceed.

Three months after you’ve started taking action to modify your personality traits, create another personality chart. How have things changed? Has your score improved for the personality traits you want to change? If not, take corrective action. If so, keep going until you’ve gotten the results that you’re after.


I consider myself to be a great example of someone who has changed their personality through conscious effort. I’m much more outgoing, resilient, perseverant, positive, and confident than I used to be.

In addition, I’m currently working on being more patient and conscientious. Live your best life by creating a personality chart and using it as a self-improvement tool.

And, in case you’re wondering whether you should start watching “Westworld”, I highly recommend it (I usually don’t like sci-fi shows, but this one is terrific). Here’s a trailer:


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no regrets

We all have regrets—things we wish we’d done, or not done.

Regret is the disappointment or sorrow that we feel when we ruminate over the belief that our life today would be better or happier if we had done something differently in the past.  We can feel regret over many different things, including the following:

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  • Education opportunities that we failed to take advantage of.
  • Financial decisions we’ve made.
  • Risks we failed to take.
  • People we’ve hurt.
  • Spending too much time at the office.
  • Not going after what we really wanted because of the opinion of others.
  • Making the wrong friends.
  • Trying too hard to please others.
  • Not making happiness a priority, or failing to understand what truly makes us happy.
  • The time wasted worrying about things that never happened.

The list goes on and on. When regret turns into fruitless rumination it can have a negative effect on both the mind and the body. Obsessing over regrets can lead to depression and stress-related diseases, it can lower your self-esteem, and it can prevent you from engaging with life in a positive and productive way.

The good news is that there are ways to deal with regret so that it stops having a negative effect on your life. Below you’ll find 10 ways to live a life of no regrets.

1. Learn From Your Regrets.

A while back I wrote about worry, and how it’s often a sign that there’s something that needs your attention. In much the same way, regret is a sign. It can be a sign of any of the following:

  • There’s something wrong with your decision-making process. If making a wrong decision led you to a situation you now regret, you need to analyze your decision-making process, pin-point what went wrong, and then correct the process so that you don’t make a similar mistake again in the future.
  • You’re not trying hard enough.
  • You’re on the wrong path. Maybe you studied accounting, when what you really wanted was to go to art school. If you constantly find yourself regretting that you didn’t go to art school, this is a sign that you’re on the wrong path and you need to self-correct.
  • You need to forgive someone, or you need to forgive yourself.
  • You need to apologize to someone and, if possible, make amends.
  • You need to do some work on yourself. Maybe you need more confidence, or humility. Or perhaps you need to learn patience. It could be that you’re undisciplined. Perhaps you need more courage.

Think about the event or situation that you regret, and what caused it. Then, ask yourself what you did, or failed to do, that led to the event or situation. Lastly, ask yourself what needs to be done to remedy the situation, lessen its impact, or make sure that it doesn’t happen again.  Live a life of no regrets bylearning from your regrets.

2. Accept That Some Things Are Out of Your Control.

The point above addresses the aspects of situations that you regret which were under your control. However, not everything is within your control.

When I was studying at Georgetown I took a class on Greek mythology. The professor showed us how, at first, the Greeks believed that everything that took place was decided by the gods. That is, people had almost no control over what happened to them. Some people were simply blessed by the gods, and some weren’t.

Gradually, the Greeks came to realize that a lot of what happened to them in life wasn’t preordained. Instead, it was up to them to decide what they wanted, and then make it happen. The fate of the heroes they wrote about became less dependent on the will of the gods and the vicissitudes of fortune, and more dependent on their own free will.

Nonetheless, the gods continued to lurk behind the shadows, helping this or that person out on some occasions, and knocking people down on others. The reality is that this is what life is like. A lot of things are within your control, but a lot of things aren’t.

When things don’t go as you as planned, some of it will be due to your own actions or inactions. But almost invariably, some of it will be due to bad luck. And that’s just the way it is; so, accept it and move on. After all, the gods are a fickle lot.

3. Show Yourself Some Self-Compassion.

My last blog post was on self-compassion, and how having compassion for yourself makes you happier and more successful. In addition, self-compassion can help you to grow from your regrets, rather than wallow in them. Researchers at UC Berkeley recruited 400 adults and divided them into three groups, as follows:

  • The first group was told to identify their biggest regret, and then to write about it from a perspective or self-compassion and understanding.
  • The second group was told to write about their biggest regret from a perspective of self-esteem.
  • The third group was told to write about a hobby that they enjoyed.

In questionnaires administered afterward, participants in the first group—those who had taken a self-compassionate perspective toward their regret–reported a higher willingness than participants in the other two groups to work on self-improvement. In addition, they were more committed to learning from their mistake and not repeating it in the future.

Self-compassion plays an important role in a life of no regrets.

4. Stop Playing “What-If”.

Regret, if left unchecked, can be a source of relentless self-induced suffering. One of the ways in which people self-flagellate with thoughts of regret is by constantly playing the “what-if” game.  It goes something like the following:

  • What if I had turned left instead of right?
  • What if I had said this instead of that?
  • What if I had been more daring?
  • What if I had stood up for myself?
  • What if I had shown more self-control?

Playing “what-if” is completely useless. Think of humpty dumpty. Once he fell off that wall, there was no putting him back together again. After all, you can’t unbreak a broken egg.  Playing “what-if” will just make you feel bad, and it’s a huge waste of time.

When I find myself thinking about something I regret, and I start playing “what-if”, I recite the well-known nursery rhyme to myself:

no regrets

That interrupts my train of thought so I can stop playing “what-if”. Then, I get busy doing something more productive. Make the following your motto: “I’m too busy to play the ‘what-if’ game and dwell on regrets.”

5. Modify Your Dream.

Let’s assume you’ve had a dream for a long time, but you either failed to pursue it, or you tried and failed. If it’s the first situation, you can take the plunge now. If it’s the second, you can try again. However, sometimes you won’t have either of these options anymore because what you wanted to do or experience is no longer within reach.

For example, it may have been a once in a lifetime opportunity, or you may no longer be healthy or young enough to pursue the opportunity. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that all is lost.

Even if your dream is no longer attainable as you had originally envisioned it, you can still pursue a modified version of it. Here are some examples:

  • You may no longer be able to become a world-class tennis player, but you can still play tennis regularly, participate in local competitions, and teach your kids to play.
  • You may realize that you won’t be able to visit the top 100 landmarks on your travel bucket list, but you can visit the top 5 and make those trips truly memorable.
  • You may conclude that you’ll never be promoted to the position you wanted, but you can start your own business and make yourself the boss.
  • It may too late for you to achieve fame and fortune in the way you had initially intended, but you can look for another way.

If your dream is no longer achievable in its original form, instead of living in regret, look for ways to modify the dream, make it smaller, or find a way to achieve a similar end result through different means.

6. What If You Knew You Would Die in Five Years?

Imagine that you were told you were going to die in a week. What would you most regret not having done? Now imagine that you were told that the one-week prognosis was a mistake. Instead of dying in one week, you’re going to die in five years. What would you start doing differently?

7. Tell Your Loved Ones That You Love Them.

One of the things that people most regret is failing to tell the people that they care for that they love them. This morning my sister called to tell me that her husband’s brother had died. He was in his mid-forties and he died out of the blue of natural causes. The truth is that people can die at any moment.

My grandmother turns 94 this month. I’m already making plans to take her out for lunch for her birthday, and I’m going to make sure that I let her know how much I love her.

8. Turn Failures and Mistakes Into Stepping Stones.

Moving forward, treat any failures or mistakes as stepping stones instead of building new regrets. I recently wrote about applying design thinking to your life. One of the steps of design thinking is to create prototypes—or experiments—and trying them out in the real world to see how they do.

If a prototype fails, that’s OK. Now you have more information you can use to build your next prototype. Keep telling yourself: “Alright. That prototype failed. What shall I try next?” Move forward in this way until you’ve come up with a prototype that gets you what you want.

In order to live a life of no regrets, turn your failures and mistakes into prototytpes, or stepping stones.

9. Practice Mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the cure for almost anything, and that includes regret. After all, regret involves thinking about the past, and mindfulness brings your attention back to the present. When you find yourself thinking about the past and feeling regret, say the following:

  • If I’m living in the past I won’t be able to fully appreciate what I have in the present.
  • I release my regrets and bring my attention back to the present moment.
  • The present moment is all there is.
  • This moment is exactly as it should be.

10. Go Back To The Drawing Board.

In point 5 above we discussed what to do in case your dream is no longer available to you in its original form. However, instead of modifying your dream, you can choose to scrap it altogether. Come up with an entirely new dream.

There’s a theory that states that there are many different parallel universes. And there’s a version of you living in each of these universes, each one leading a different life (because each version of you has made different choices along the way). You can choose to think that right now there’s a version of you that’s living the original dream life you had envisioned.

Nonetheless, the version of you that’s living in this universe right now can choose to go down a different path. Sit down and draft a completely different life plan for yourself. Then, get to work on that life plan.


Regret can suck all the joy out life. Live your best life by living a life of no regrets. Start with the 10 tips and strategies explained above.


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