No matter how hard we try, we each have a limited amount of willpower. Once our willpower is depleted, our subconscious desires and vices take over. The good thing is that after a period of rest, our willpower regenerates and the cycle continues. The secret to stepping out of something difficult is to focus on that which is most difficult when your willpower reserves are full.
This final lesson is about how to ‘will yourself’ out of loneliness. This may sound like we are simplifying things a bit, but the only way to get something done that doesn't occur naturally is to will yourself to do it!
With limited willpower at your disposal, (and likely more than you think you have) there is really only one way out! You need a plan. For good reason, there are many versions of the adage, "Fail to plan = plan to fail.”
Below we have summarized a range of approaches to managing willpower that have worked for successful people before us, with the belief that, in order to get what successful people have gotten, we need to do what successful people have done!
Jerry Seinfeld, Theodore Roosevelt and Ben Franklin each had a way of approaching their goals that we feel are both applicable and interesting for the task of stepping out of loneliness. In the assignment outlined below, you will be asked to chose one of these approaches as you revisit the three most difficult tasks you faced in this course. You will be asked in the assignment to moodify about your intentions so that we can help to support you in your intentions.
See you on the inside.
OPTION #1: Jerry Seinfeld uses what is now referred to as the “Chain Method". It is named for chain of Xs he marked on a calendar after successfully writing for his pre-determined amount of time each day. This approach requires that you commit to working towards your goal for a fixed amount of time, per day, without any interruptions for as many days in a row as possible. There needn’t be any specific task specified on each day, but the amount of time, and the time of day should be the same each day. On each successful day you will mark a large X on a calendar that you can see on your wall. The challenge that will help you to tap into deeper willpower reserves is to to keep the chain of Xs going for as long as possible. If your chain has a hard time getting started, you should reduce your expectations until you can be successful for 10 days in a row. Once established for 10 days in a row, you can experiment with making your daily commitment more challenging by perhaps making each session longer, or requiring that you commit to two sessions a day. Remember each session should be a period of time where you commit 100% of your energy without any interruptions, whether self-inflicted or by others. Good luck.
OPTION #2: Teddy Roosevelt broke down every big goal goal into very specific tasks that took less than a day to complete. With a list of tasks in hand, he’d pick one at a time and assign a time and date to complete that task. The amount of time per task can vary. The time of day can vary. The number of days a a week can vary. The only requirement of this approach is that you state the specific amount of time that you are allocating to each task and then you stick to it, and stop working when the time is up. At first this will require a bit of trial and error based on the reality of how quickly you work versus how quickly you tell yourself you are working. With this method, moodifying your intentions before and moodifying your results after -- good, bad or ugly -- will be pivotal in your progress towards stepping out of loneliness.
OPTION #3: Ben Franklin held himself to virtues rather than to tasks, per se. He held himself to 13 self-prescribed virtues by reflecting daily upon occasions of each virtue in the form of a mark on his weekly score card. (shown below) Each week he would pay special attention to one particular virtue of the 13 so that he could become more mindful of the nuanced challenges it presented. For Step Out Of Loneliness this approach will be applied as follows: For each of the three tasks, identify two or three behaviors that will lead to progress towards each of your three most challenging tasks. For example, if you are struggling to identify the “gift” from Daniel Pink’s “Purpose on a Napkin”, one of the behaviors that may help you here is “reflection” or taking time to debrief in situations where you were appreciated (or not). It may also involve “reading” about other people’s gifts and challenging yourself you see you gifts through the example of their story. On your Ben Franklin chart, you would add those two ‘behaviors’ for that task and commit to tracking their occurrence until the task of discovering your “gift” was sufficiently complete in your mind. Your table should contain at least 6 ‘behaviors’ but could have upwards of 12 that link back to the three main tasks.
Ben Franklin's virtues were as follows:
Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself;
avoid trifling conversation.
Order. Let all your things have their places;
let each part of your business have its time.
Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought;
perform without fail what you resolve.
Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself;
i.e., waste nothing.
Industry. Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful;
cut off all unnecessary actions.
Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly,
and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries,
or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
Moderation. Avoid extremes;
forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.
Tranquillity. Be not disturbed at trifles,
or at accidents common or unavoidable.
Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation.
Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
NOTE: We also recognize the enormous power people’s spiritual practice as a source of strength to manage willpower and desire and encourage people to tap into that strength if it is part of your regular practice.
ASSIGNMENT: Review all of the course material to date. Lay out all of the worksheets, and pull up all of your notes.
We are aware that we have asked you to examine some very challenging issues and goals in your life. We also understand that it’s not always possible to get all of the work done in the time that it seems as though we’ve given. Today’s assignment is to return to each module and pick just 3 of the most difficult tasks in the course and make a specific plan to get them done in a defined period of time and to ask all of us to hold you accountable!
Once you have decided on the 3 tasks, and the specific plan your assignment is to log on to MyCounterpane and commit to that plan by video moodifying using this script (roughly):
“My name is___________ and as my final assignment in the Step Out of Loneliness course I have chosen to take on these three challenges:
I have chosen to address the first challenge using
the (circle one) Seinfeld / Roosevelt / Franklin approach.
I have committed _______ (circle one) hours / days / weeks to completing the entire goal.
Seinfeld: I will work each day for ______ minutes between the hours of ______ and ______.
Roosevelt: I have identified _________ tasks within this goal and have committed ______ hours /days to complete each task for a total of ________ hours / days.
Franklin: The three tasks that I will be working on are as follows ________ , __________, ___________. Within each task have identified the following behaviors that I will track in pursuit of that task_______,_______,________, _________, _______, _________,
I will start with ___________ and prioritize each behavior one week at a time for the next _____ months or until I feel that I have spent sufficient time and energy to consider those behaviors part of my daily habit and/or those tasks complete.