Masks of Fear

If wearing a mask makes you feel short of breath or light-headed, it’s NOT because it’s “reducing your oxygen” or because it’s “trapping the CO2”. (Masks don’t actually do those things.)

The symptoms are most probably due to a *panic attack * being brought on by having something over your face. This is actually quite common.

It may be aggravated by the many fears about the virus that some people are repressing in order to maintain rapport with their tribal / political group.

The symptoms may also be aggravated by hyperventilating that is sometimes part of a panic attack.

The remedy for hyperventilation – and the symptoms from it – is breathing into a paper bag – something that *actually* traps the CO2 (the mask doesn’t) to restore the proper level of CO2 in the blood: (

It is common for people with phobic or panic responses to attempt to rationalize them in various ways – which will over time make them even more difficult to deal with, and may in some cases generalize the stimulus that can trigger them (make them more common / frequent – and maybe not require a mask to trigger them).

If seeing others wearing masks (a thing that actually protects you) is “triggering” for you, you may be having a phobic response to people in masks. This may be related to another phobia that is far more common than most people realize: coulrophobia, or the fear of clowns (

It may be related to the fact that we’ve been bombarded with scary news about “terrorists” for the past 20 years. It may even be related to the amount of information we’re used to gathering instantly and unconsciously about the people around us – that their faces are friendly and welcoming – or at least not angry and threatening. Suddenly being unable to tell whether the people around you are hostile might trigger a fearful response.

When such things happen, people don’t always realize they’re having a panic attack or phobic response. And, experiencing this doesn’t mean a person is “crazy”, “broken”, or “weak”. Even though these emotional hiccups are quite common, people are often embarrassed by them – which is one of the reasons they live and suffer in denial rather than just seeking help for them.

Panic attacks and phobia-like responses are not usually dangerous to the people who suffer them. However, when they interfere with medically necessary safety precautions from deadly disease, they can contribute to both personal and public health problems.

If wearing a mask – or seeing people in masks – feels triggering, or leads to light-headedness, dizziness, or hyperventilating, contact a professional for some assistance to resolve what is likely a simple issue, but in these times one that might lead to really serious outcomes – for you or for someone you care about.

A quick-fix you might try for yourself is picking a mask that represents a group or team you support – from a sporting team, to a political organization, a flag – or even a superhero costume. While this might seem silly or simple it actually works wonders sometimes. And, it costs very little to just try it.

If you aren’t experiencing these kinds of problems, try to be understanding of others who are triggered into fear (which is naturally followed by protective anger) at being asked to wear a mask or at seeing others in masks. Realize that they may not be aware of the specific thing that’s triggering them. Try to be understanding that denial of the realities of the pandemic might be their way of trying to avoid or to rationalize the non-rational but very real fear they’re experiencing.

Give them space, speak in a calm and reassuring, rather than angry or demanding tone. Don’t shame them for being stupid – that’s likely to worsen their response. If there is sufficient social distance, consider showing them your (calm and reassuring) face.

If you or someone you know is experiencing intense fearful or angry responses to wearing masks or seeing people wearing them, consider getting some professional assistance for relief, comfort, and safety.

Posted in Anger Management, Coping with Sadness, Dealing with Fear, Get Rid of Anxiety, How to Stop Worrying | Leave a comment

Stop it and Get a Life

Stop it. Please.

I’m writing to ask you to STOP IT. Please.

You know who you are, posting announcements from Facebook applications with titles like:

  • “Which fairy are you?”
  • “Which day of the week are you?”
  • “Which beer are you?”

For a moment, step away from the keyboard. Walk into the bathroom wherever you are, and look into the mirror, deep into your own eyes. Notice their shape, their color, the beautiful details in the iris.

Imagine looking back across time – into the eyes of some distant ancestor.

If your eyes are blue, then you share a common ancestor to ALL other blue-eyed persons, scientists say. And, within the past 6 to 10 thousand years or so. And, that person probably lived in Northern Europe.

Contemplate who THEY were – and how you’re connected to them – and to EVERY other blue-eyed person on this planet.

Then, regardless of your eye color, begin to imagine that WHO YOU ARE as the *SUCCESSFUL* progeny of thousands of generations of human beings that walked this planet for thousands of years.

Imagine that you notice yourself carrying the genetics of the SURVIVING members of your ancestors’ families – through wars, treachery, plagues, fire, droughts, floods, earthquakes, cyclones, ice ages, pestilence, famine – and every other natural and man-made disaster and challenge, recorded or forgotten.

The blood of the survivors and the successful – and the just plain lucky – runs in your veins. When you look into your own eyes, you look deep into that legacy.

If that legacy were to look back – the warriors, and captains, and sailors, and fishermen, and farmers, and miners, and travelers, and mothers, and hunter-gatherers, all.

They may collectively say to you:

“Stop it, please”. Stop seeking an identity in a meaningless “application” on Facebook.

Perhaps they’d offer something like:

“HERE’S YOUR IDENTITY. Right HERE. Look long. Look hard. Look often. “Imagine it” they could say “YOU – the product of thousands of generations of SUCCESS – just by being alive – JUST by drawing your breath this moment – YOU ARE US. We thrill to know that you are here. And, we want you to experience a REAL identity, rooted in your character and grown throurh your actions.”

“LIVE a life WORTHY of that history – and while you remember this undeniable connection EVERY REMAINING DAY OF YOUR LIFE – before you join us all in the dusts of time…”

I wonder how people would feel about their “identity” if they did this once in a while – or maybe even just ONCE…

I wonder if people would notice that those who thought them interesting enough to “friend” them in the first place were imagining they’d post something that’s actually ABOUT them – and not some idiotic “applications” random stamp about them.

And, I genuinely wonder how interesting their REAL posting that’s actually about them will be …

Posted in Dealing with Shame, Get Rid of Anxiety, How to Be Happier, How to Stop Worrying, Self Esteem, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Victim Status – according to Brodsky

I write a good bit about victim status, seeking it, the utility of it – and the price. I just came across this fragment of a commencement speech by Joseph Brodsky, from 1988, where he speaks eloquently and directly about the subject.

Hope you like.

At all costs try to avoid granting yourself the status of the victim. Of all the parts of your body, be most vigilant over your index finger, for it is blame-thirsty. A pointed finger is a victim’s logo — the opposite of the V-sign and a synonym for surrender.

No matter how abominable your condition may be, try not to blame anything or anybody: history, the state, superiors, race, parents, the phase of the moon, childhood, toilet training, etc. The menu is vast and tedious, and this vastness and tedium alone should be offensive enough to set one’s intelligence against choosing from it.

The moment that you place blame somewhere, you undermine your resolve to change anything; it could be argued even that that blame-thirsty finger oscillates as wildly as it does because the resolve was never great enough in the first place.

After all, a victim status is not without its sweetness. It commands compassion, confers distinction, and whole nations and continents bask in the murk of mental discounts advertised as the victim’s conscience. There is an entire victim-culture, ranging from private counselors to international loans. The professed goal of this network notwithstanding, its net result is that of lowering one’s expectations from the threshold, so that a measly advantage could be perceived or billed as a major breakthrough.

Of course, this is therapeutic and, given the scarcity of the world’s resources, perhaps even hygienic, so for want of a better identity, one may embrace it — but try to resist it. However abundant and irrefutable is the evidence that you are on the losing side, negate it as long as you have your wits about you, as long as your lips can utter “No.”

On the whole, try to respect life not only for its amenities but for its hardships, too. They are a part of the game, and what’s good about a hardship is that it is not a deception. Whenever you are in trouble, in some scrape, on the verge of despair or in despair, remember: that’s life speaking to you in the only language it knows well.

In other words, try to be a little masochistic: without a touch of masochism, the meaning of life is not complete. If this is of any help, try to remember that human dignity is an absolute, not a piecemeal notion, that it is inconsistent with special pleading, that it derives its poise from denying the obvious.

Should you find this argument a bit on the heady side, think at least that by considering yourself a victim you but enlarge the vacuum of irresponsibility that demons or demagogues love so much to fill, since a paralyzed will is no dainty for angels.

Posted in Anger Management, Bully Blog, Coping with Sadness, Cultivating Character, Dealing with Fear, Dealing with Shame, Get Rid of Anxiety, How to Be Happier, Relationships, Self Esteem, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Clean Off the Guilt

Nobody is eager to do the job of cleaning a stinking mess off their shoe, but the alternative is to walk around smelling like that – and tracking it everywhere you go. And, whether you’re spending time “isolated together” with someone or isolated alone, the isolation can seem to intensify the issue.

COVID-19 is bringing many changes to many people – and to relationships.

In some cases, it’s requiring people to be isolated – and in some cases, to be “isolated together” – for extended periods of time.

These conditions lead people to “think about things” – often to dwell on things – including things they may not feel great about. And, the “not great” things might include guilt.

Guilt is an interesting emotion in that feeling guilty about something can lead a person to doing other things they wind up feeling guilty (or ashamed) for – and that can become a self-amplifying spiral of behavior that’s really troublesome.

Knowing about these sorts of things doesn’t make a person immune to the problems. In fact, it can create a blindness to the power of the cycle, or to the destruction it’s doing.

A person might find themselves saying to themselves “I know, I know, blah, blah, blah … thereby maintaining the problem condition – because doing the things that would let them fully escape the guilt and just move forward with freedom seem seem impossibly difficult.

Emotional things are like that – especially in American culture, and especially for men.

Again, cleaning the shoe is pretty gross – except in comparison to walking around like that. And, allowing guilt to cling to you – and to get on your relationships endeavors – really is worse than just cleaning it off.

In consideration of the current situation, I have recently re-released a couple of my videos about a fast easy way to clean the guilt off yourself – and to do that in privacy, and probably without needing to have awkward conversations. In consideration of the current situation, I’ve also discounted the price by $20.

If you’ve been feeling bad about something and want to be free – through a simple process you can do in privacy in the next 30 to 60 minutes – check it out. If you know someone else who is suffering, consider sharing the link with them.

Whatever you do, be well and happy.

Posted in Dealing with Shame, High Performance, How to Be Happier, How to Get Some Sleep, Relationships, Self Esteem | Leave a comment

Landmarks of the Self

People construct and experience their identity – their place in the world – largely based on their interactions with others. Disruption of one’s social interactions can lead people to lose sight of the landmarks they have chosen to navigate their identity – to literally lose their sense of self.

This loss can lead to intolerable anxiety and despair.

How important (to our understanding of our identity) is it for us to proxy our personal hygiene and grooming to someone from a different socio/ethno/economic class?

In Motivational Literacy(TM), we observe a relationship:

Dependency = Denial + Defending

The amount by which one denies dependency and defends doing or using something, they are dependent upon it. (Think of various addictions…)

In this context, we would say the extent to which one denies that they need someone else to frost their bangs or groom their toenails – while also having anxiety because they can’t experience it this week – they are functionally dependent. Likewise, the extent to which they defend the urgency of their seeking it, they’re experiencing stress based on dependence.

These things might reveal a person’s self-definition – their experience of unique identity and place in the world – is to some extent based on those kinds of interactions. Character implications aside, it might be useful to consider the ecology of having one’s landmarks of self-ness so externalized and so provably fragile and out of one’s own control. A person might find themselves wanting to adjust things…

All approaches to the mechanics of such adjustments begin the kind of quiet personal thinking that pandemic countermeasures “lock-down” might … we can choose to see it as “imposing” or “facilitating”, whichever seems most useful. Whichever the case, we cannot build new landmarks for the navigation of the self while still pining for or grieving for the old ones.

We might re-design some of the ways we’ve build our personal navigational systems (or allowed them to be built for us). We might use the time and circumstances we’ve come into for that purpose. And, through that wind up with the kind of personal renaissance that some people create after surviving a near-death experience and recovery, or after they’ve resolved a “mid life crisis”.

Right now, we get to be like Jonah.

What will you become through the experience?

Posted in Anger Management, Coping with Sadness, Cultivating Character, Dealing with Fear, Frustration, Get Rid of Anxiety, How to Be Happier, How to Stop Worrying, Self Esteem, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Motivational Minute: Utilization Principle

This is March 20, 2020, and stress over the COVID-19 virus is beginning to crescendo for many people. They’re trying to concentrate, to do work from home or create something – or to home-school their kids – and the constant press conferences and counts, and communications about the virus – or about dealing with the changes it’s bringing – can really make that difficult.

If you’re like most people, you might have one of two responses. You might try to “discipline” yourself – to grit your teeth and force yourself to concentrate; sit still; and “get something done”. Or, you might try escaping or distracting yourself from an unpleasant emotion like anxiety, fear, panic, or just boredom – maybe through some activity that’s not great for you.

Another option is to use an emotion like anxiety to drive an activity you need – or even want to do anyway, but maybe just wasn’t scheduled for right that minute. It’s a powerful technique to harness USE an emotional state that presents itself, while it’s right there. Use it all up – and then come back to the original plan. Parents who have ever intentionally let their kids wear themselves out so they’ll go to bed know what I’m talking about…

We don’t want to do this ALL the time, because we do want to build the ability to conjure the best emotional state for a given task. On a given day, it can be fun to “let the dogs hunt” – and today was one of those for me. Here’s a short video from the “upstairs office” – and it includes some information useful for parents trying to home-school during the crazy we have right now. Hope you enjoy.

Posted in Dealing with Fear, High Performance, How to Be Happier, How to Stop Worrying | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Motivational Minute: Utilization Principle

Why Teachers Become Bullies

Last time, I talked about additive strategies and subtractive strategies, and how insecurity in social currency invites people to take “the low road” to preserving or gaining status.

This time, I’m going to provide an example of how that “low road” strategy appears in unexpected places – like teachers. Here’s an article about a high-schooler who recorded a substitute teacher joining the class to humiliate and bully him.

And, here’s the video the kid took:

And, we may find the video shocking, and we may want to explain this by saying the substitute teacher must be an awful person, and that may comfort us by letting us pretend this isn’t lots more common than we want to think.

Here’s the real problem:

Teachers are in the social and economic strata of “public employee”. And, they’re often criticized because “they get the whole summer off”, get benefits, etc.

Look at social media commentary about teachers’ pay and working terms. Everyone from the middle class on down uses teachers as a subtractive strategy target.

If you have anyone working inside public education, and you ask them, you’ll discover that most school systems run at the management-level the same way the classrooms run at student-level – in a very socially despotic manner.

Dictates are given, often arbitrary ones – or ones that directly conflict with mission statements. Punishments for the most trivial deviations are often also arbitrary. Teachers are stripped of intrinsic motivation – the first component of which is AUTONOMY.

And, nobody is lower on that scale than the substitute teacher.

This is true also of the perceptions of students. The substitute isn’t skilled enough, established enough, or socially connected enough to “get a real job”.

A perceived poverty of social status is the ground from which social despotism sprouts.

And, maintaining order on the overall classroom – and having ANY level of rapport with a bunch of otherwise unruly kids – offers an easy pathway to the substitute who is already socially bankrupt.

I’m not making excuses for the teacher. I’m just observing the actual forces working on the human beings in the situation. And, I’m also observing that the “adult” just proved an easy pathway to getting by. Facing consequences later won’t change what the kids will take from the event, behaviorally. Because in-the-moment, the strategy was successful. The only “problem” was getting caught – another object lesson they learn from … the captains of American industry and our money-skewed “justice” system.

What You Can Do:

Recognize that people are human – and nobody more so than teenagers. They will do what works in-the-moment – and especially what is modeled for them by adults. No amount of lecturing is going to change what they learn works IN THE REAL WORLD – meaning their world, and in the immediate – not some theory-based future. This is why “consequences” are not nearly as effective as prevention!

Recognize that culture is controlled from the top-down – by example and modeling – what we used to call LEADING. If there’s a “bullying problem” at some level, it is a symptom of something happening at least one level higher. This is due to the “subtractive strategy” cascading downward from one level of “no appeal” to the next one down.

Foster environments that accept appeals and input from “below” – and that promote autonomy on every level. When you notice the parade of “security” talk excuses for erasing autonomy, remember someone who has made no mistakes has also learned no lessons. Judgment can only develop where mistakes are possible – and accepted as part of learning.

Model this by admitting and growing from your own mistakes – and by being tolerant of others’ learning processes.

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Malls Model Authoritarianism

Capitalism and Social Metrics:

On a recent paragliding trip to Mexico, I watched the social interactions of boys who follow pilots to help carry and pack-up equipment. In terms of an after school job, they have it better than I ever did: The pilots land in their back yard, and pay them between $1.50 and $3 for about 10 minutes of easy work. They don’t have to keep, maintain, or clean anything, and the money literally drops-in from the sky. Beats the hell out of mowing yards, I tell you…

On a long glide, I landed in an out-of-the-way place, in a weedy, muddy area. And, before I could gather my gear, four boys appeared to help. I’ll guess the oldest at 12 and youngest at maybe 8.

The obvious leader gestured to himself and proudly said “professional” (one of his few English words). He then demonstrated a professional level of skill at folding a paraglider.

He had one main helper, but three others were also very helpful, including one who mopped some mud from my wing using the bandana I loaned him.

I handed out some candy to the group, and then asked the leader “qantas?” – (one of my few Spanish words) – how much he’d like to be paid. He confidently said “viente!” – or 20 Pesos. Although more than the going rate of 15, it was fair considering the 150 yards of head-high (to me) weeds he’d helped carry my gear through. I paid he and his main helper 20 pesos each.

So far, a fun but unremarkable story…


Here’s where it gets interesting:

I looked around at the other three, younger kids who had worked very hard trying to help and who were now looking at me expectantly for something more than a hard candy.

Respecting the leader’s authority, I looked at him and asked “how about them?”

Confidently, without hesitation, and in all seriousness, he answered “nothing”.

Let that sink in…

He’s the 12-year-old “professional”, and doesn’t want the lower-skilled youngsters getting *anything* for having done their best to help – and learn.

They were obviously disappointed. So, I negotiated on their behalf – downward from 10 pesos. Even half-scale it seemed wouldn’t fully acknowledge the superior status of the leader. However, 5 pesos was OK. He felt that sufficient difference to keep the social order clear. I paid the youngsters 5 pesos each.

There are three points, here:

  1. Social status is something we understand intuitively.
  2. Status is perceived RELATIVE to others.
  3. Social status is more easily maintained through subtraction than through addition.

If you want to see this principle in action on larger scales, and in “adults”, log on to your favorite social media. You’ll easily find memes and comments comparing the freedoms or perks of one group to another:

“I had to take a drug test for my job, so welfare recipients should have to take one.”

Someone feels this is “unfair” (doesn’t acknowledge their status). They’re asking for an adjustment to achieve balance the situation – and in the relevant commodity of AUTONOMY.

In the comments following “drug test for welfare” memes, you’ll always find something like this:

“They can sit around and watch television all day while I’m working”.

That’s a very specific reference to “unfairness” in autonomy.

And, here’s where THAT gets interesting:

Like the children in Mexico, these people aren’t managing status by asking more for themselves, but by demanding less for others.

Those insecure of their status seldom ask their social/economic superiors for more. Instead, they demand the scales be balanced by taking freedoms from others.

In the “drug testing for welfare” example, blue collar workers won’t try to escape the yoke of sexually degrading humiliation by their superiors. Instead, they seek “fairness” through the forced degradation of others.

Those “others” are consistently selected from the social/economic subordinates of the people whose status is insecure.

This is just competition over a social commodity – in the most efficient way possible.

Just like the children in Mexico, the easy path is asking a more powerful authority to enforce the relative status. The leap from Mexican children demanding lower pay for their subordinates – to American blue-collar workers demanding “equality through degradation” of welfare recipients is only in scale.

The structure is identical. And, as far as I can tell, it is evolutionary, running across time, culture, and even species.

From these studies and observations, we get two terms in Motivational Literacy™:

  1. Subtractive Strategy: trying to balance a perceived social inequality by asking authority to take from them.
  2. Additive Strategy: trying to improve social strategy by increasing contribution or appealing to authority for a promotion.

The less secure a person is in their position or relationship, the more likely they are to use or depend on subtractive strategy. This is an intuitive response to the fact that additive strategies take more time and more resources, while subtractive ones are relatively quick, and don’t require anything but stirring-up some prejudice.

And, that’s a problem because it creates a feed-forward loop – with each class continually accepting the step down so long as they can push on someone beneath them to maintain their relative position. Competition to stay out of last place becomes ever more urgent – and brutal. And, at some point, the natural (biology-based) response  to pressure from above will navigate to either surrender or anger – resulting in exactly what we’re seeing in American society right now – depression and suicide – as well as acting-out and violence.


What’s this got to do with teenagers at the mall?

The title of this post refers to this article about corporations continuing to model – and propagate – social despotism in America. And, how that’s bad for our “culture of bullying”.

Conditions that make any commodity more scarce will create more competition for that commodity.

Autonomy is a social commodity: We perceive people with more freedom of choice to be more fortunate, and we pursue and protect our own freedoms of choice and personal agency with fervor. Freedom is a cornerstone of the philosophy in the founding of our Republic.

Like any other commodity, people perceive autonomy in relative terms – who has more, or how much someone has relative to ourselves.

Autonomy is a social commodity that CAN NOT be removed from our psyche.

Reductions in supply of a commodity will manufacture greater competition for it.

That means an increase in the need to demonstrate who has more – and the intensity of that need will be reflected in the means used to do that.

Give them less freedom – and force them into venues away from lights, cameras, adults, and … help.

This is the opposite of what our society should be doing.


Get the principles from the above, and be on the lookout for how they’re playing – from social media to your own backyard.

Realize that “good” pro-social behavior does not develop from despotic examples and stifling of social commodities.

To get “good” pro-social behavior from young people, we must model security in our own social status – and refrain from “balancing the social books” through subtraction. Instead, we must demonstrate any balancing we feel necessary through addition – negotiation for our own elevation. Sure, it’s more work, but aren’t “work ethic” and “self-improvement” part of the ideals we identify as “good”?

Provide MORE pathways and opportunities for achievement and self-expression. Take notice when these things are being stifled at any level, from public schools’ removal of elective courses to the closing of otherwise-public venues to people on the basis of ageism.

Model MORE and unique pathways to achievement and expression. Demonstrate creative pathways to help young people escape the cattle-chutes of industrialized and fearful society. Demonstrate that a person may experience autonomy and expression on other ways and other venues so they may follow that example.

Know that without opportunities and models for autonomy and express, many youth will sink into the depression of learned helplessness. I think suicide statistics reflect this. Know that many may turn to substance-based escapism. And, others may use aggression and violence in a desperate attempt to “balance” their place in the world. When we see those things happen, you will not be among those surprised and puzzled. And, you will be taking useful action to improve the situation.


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21 ways to New Year’s Resolution Success


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Here are 21 tips for making New Years Resolutions easier and more successful. May they help you realize all your ambitions and dreams in 2015!

  1. Forget deadlines or acquisition of goals. They aren’t products you could purchase from Walmart. Instead, stay focused on the activities that move you toward your outcome.
  2. Maintain consistency, no matter how the clock ticks or what setbacks you encounter. Stay dedicated like dripping water – which can cut a channel through a mountain.
  3. Let yourself to feel good about the activity or process and adventure of becoming  the person you want to be.
  4. Let your resolution to become part of a lifestyle that involves new friends and new fun activities and new locations.
  5. Associate with people who are successful at happily achieving and maintaining the same kind of goal you have.
  6. Adopt the beliefs, attitudes, and habits of successful people. Don’t commiserate, believe, or complain in the way unsuccessful people do. Instead if spending lest time with people who “share your struggle” but never succeed, cultivate friends who have succeeded where you want to – and spend as much time as possible around them.
  7. Make a specific and scheduled plan for taking manageable, bite-sized actions on a consistent basis.
  8. Schedule and prioritize those consistent bite-sized actions on your calendar.
  9. Write the personal deeply-held values that relate to your goal – and your bite-sized actions next to them on the calendar where you’ve prioritized those actions within your schedule.
  10. Feel good about keeping those values-affirming appointments.
    Reward yourself in ways that empower (not sabotage) your goals.
  11. Congratulate yourself and memorialize in writing the progress you create.
  12. Imagine and design goals where final decisions are in your control.
  13. Focus on those parts of your progress that you most control.
  14. Take consistent meaningful action. Whenever you notice something that “has to be done first”, challenge that truthfulness of that – and re-focus on keeping your consistency. Remember that consistency is a goal in itself.
  15. Make all your resolutions a reasonably achievable size.
  16. Measure progress toward a goal. Forget how much is left and focus on progress.
  17. Forget the goal itself – and how dramatic your struggle is. Instead, stay focused on the process of your transformation.
  18. Think consciously about how much attention some people get by failing. Resolve to win by winning.
  19. Make new friends by winning your goal. Whenever we take-on something new, we begin as “the newbie”. With each benchmark we achieve, we qualify ourselves to a new level “in the club” of people who have already walked that path. Remember to reach out and join the “circle of winners”.
  20. Feel both worthy and deserving. Because you are here, you are worthy of your own best effort, and your own best effort makes you worthy of progress, and progress maintained will carry you to success. Feel worthy as you step forward.
  21. UNDERSTAND and believe that successful resolutions are about the outcomes of consistent practices or lifestyles.

Please share your resolutions and personal strategies for success below. If you have comments, questions, or suggestions for the success of others, please share them below. I will do my best to answer every one!


Posted in Cultivating Character, Dealing with Fear, Decision-Making, Get Rid of Anxiety, High Performance, Procrastination, Self Esteem, Stopping a Bad Habit | Comments Off on 21 ways to New Year’s Resolution Success

How to Fail at New Years Resolutions

Quality failure requires proper planning. Here are five stealth methods for failing your New Year’s resolutions – because success would be lonely.

Most people think a “lack of willpower” is enough to guarantee failure – and that’s one excuse, but that’s the wrong answer because your friends and significant other know it’s a flaccid, pitiful, unoriginal – and totally obvious excuse.

resolution failMost people aren’t broken or “lacking willpower”. So, a quality New Year’s Resolution failure needs a truly bad strategy – not just bad genes or lame excuses.

Your strategy has to have decent stealth features, or it’ll be too obvious, and people will laugh at you for even saying it.

Here are FIVE strategic ways to guarantee a quality New Year’s Resolution FAIL:



  1. “I will lose 20 pounds by the end of February.”
  2. “I will spend more time with my family.”
  3. “I will get Nancy to marry me.”
  4. “I will make a million dollars.”
  5. “I will weigh 125 pounds.”

These are typical resolutions. They are all stated in positive terms – which makes them ideal stealth-failure resolutions!

Check Them Out:


1. “I will lose 20 pounds by the end of February.”

This goal is positive, and healthy, and that “end of February” deadline is the perfect kind of overly-specific booby-trap to trigger stress-eating – or just plain stressing – which causes the body to retain weight.

People who want to stay fat (or even gain weight) should try to do stress-eating. And, they need to avoid being active and getting outside. Going outside burns calories. It also exposes a person to sunshine – which helps their body synthesize serotonin. And, that totally ruins the seasonal affective depression that helps them binge on carbohydrates like pretzels, chips, and pasta.

Physical activity relieves stress – which interferes with stress eating and the hormone levels you want to maintain to insure you maintain or gain more fat.

January is the best time of year to make excuses for staying inside and inactive. It’s cold, it’s snowing, it’s miserable, you get a cold, it’s flu season, you have to brush off the windshield, it gets dark early. And, if any of those fail, you can always misplace your gloves.

The more non-perfect performance days that tick off through January, the more weight you have to lose PER DAY to avoid failure.

At some point, even your significant other will forgive you for just surrendering – taking the couch-lounging path that ultimately gives you 11 months and 4 days of peace until you have to do it again. (If you don’t count your significant other totally checking out the hot-bodied so-and-so at the lake.)

If you really want to fail your New Year’s Resolution, make sure you put your goal on a deadline.

2. “I will spend more time with my family.”

This goal is positive, and a good idea, and just non-specific enough:  There’s no method – and no metrics (tracking system). You can totally make easy excuses any time it comes up. No real action will happen, and by the time anyone notices – around the time you have that big fight in July or so – you’ll have “already failed” – and you can put it off again until next Christmas!

When you want to make a totally fail-destined resolution, making it seem positive, while structurally vague and without any way to track progress – is certain to be helpful. And, by that, I mean to insure failure.

3. “I will get Nancy to marry me.”

There’s that good positive-sounding facade – behind it hiding one of the best resolution fail tricks in the book: You aren’t really in control of it. You can make a big production, and spend money and take a trip and hire a sky-writer. You can do all that with utter security that most jewelers will take the ring back when she says “no”. And, the refund will probably let you pay off the proposal vacation you maxed-out your credit card for.

One of the best ways to insure a resolution fail – and to build-in an escape from accountability – or even create a pity-wringing victim status – is to make sure someone else is in control of the main choice(s) or actions that produce the outcome.

Consistently focus on any part you don’t fully control– especially trivial ones. Do this especially if that part isn’t actually necessary. Find ways to say that others are in control of various trivial, but essential prerequisites to you taking meaningful action.

4. “I will make a million dollars.”

By now, you recognize the “positivity paint” on this baby, and you may already be noticing that a ridiculously-gigantic and very specific goal is just the thing to insure a quality resolution fail. The “lose 20 pounds by February” resolution used time pressure to help guarantee failure. This one does the same thing, just using gigantic size instead of a short time-frame.

No matter the degree of progress, make sure you never measure progress, and always focus on how huge the rest of the resolution is.

And, the result is the same: You get out of the effort much earlier by surrendering to how much harder it seems to make a $999,000 in only seven months.

When you want to fail a resolution, don’t make it big, or even challenging; make it ridiculously huge. Nobody will blame you for surrendering. And, in the meantime, everyone will say how “ambitious” you are.

5. “I will weigh XXX pounds.”

Positive. Controllable. Right-sized to your starting weight. How are you going to fail that one?

This is the stealthiest of the fails: The outcome-obsessed fail. This one requires some greed, but most people can supply that. You have to stay focused on the outcome – like Gollum with the ring.

You have to crave and obsess and struggle with it all the time. And, it’s best if you dramatize that with your family and friends – being so brave and “strong” whenever anyone is watching. Max-out that willpower in the most dramatic possible ways.

That allows you the flexibility to rationalize and justify and excuse and deny the “cheating” and binging you’ll do when nobody is around.

It’s OK: You totally deserve all those treats and rewards for the incredible shirt-popping will-power you’re profiling.

Nobody will blame you when you boomerang around Valentine’s day, gaining back nine of the five pounds you lost before then. They’ll believe the “big boned” thing – at least when you’re in the room.

Keep in mind that nobody likes a successful New Year’s Resolution winner-bully – and everyone loves the story of a dramatic failure.

Remember, your friends will feel bad if you outdo them. Remember that victory laps are short-lived and elitist, while martyrdom and pining for unrequited success offers an endless source of conversation and attention. If you were to succeed, you would have to invent an entirely new line of conversation and basis for connecting to your friends.

Please share your own New Year’s Resolutions. Share your plans, and I’ll give you some free tips on how to insure the outcome you really want!

Posted in Cultivating Character, Decision-Making, High Performance, How to Be Happier, Procrastination, Self Esteem | 1 Comment