Track your progress(DW #830)

Do you wear a Fitbit? Or use a food journal?


If you do, you already know that tracking what you are trying to change or improve is a powerful way to set yourself up for success.


Well, hundreds of years before the invention of fitness- tracking devices, Ben Franklin came up with a self-improvement experiment that let him track his mind hacking progress in a measurable, scientific way.


As described in his autobiography, Franklin gave his experiment the lofty title of the ‘Moral Perfection Project.’ He began by laying out a set of thirteen virtues that he wished to develop in himself and then he found a way to track his progress on a daily basis with this method:


He writes in his autobiography:


  • "I made a little book, in which I allotted a page for each of the virtues."
  • "I ruled each page with red ink, so as to have seven columns, one for each day of the week, marking each column with a letter for the day."
  • "I crossed these columns with...
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Make it actionable through clarity(DW #829)

When setting goals for self-development, it is important to make them action oriented.


For example: "take a 5 minute time out when you notice your head beginning to throb" is clear and actionable as opposed to "try to be calm".


This is what Ben Franklin also did in his journals. For example, instead of just setting the goal of achieving "sincerity," Franklin further defined it with a sentence—"Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly".


Think of something you are working on right now. Is it clear? Will you be able to tell if you have achieved it on any given day?
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Focus on one goal at a time(DW #828)

Remember what we said about being a "metaphysical glutton" and trying to change everything at once?

It seems that Benjamin Franklin realized the wisdom of focusing on one thing at a time in his quest to attain moral perfection.

His process was extremely structured and organized.

 Each week, he would focus on one of the thirteen virtues to practice. He would write the virtue on top of his diary page as inspiration and would give himself a passing or failing score every single day.

 Once the thirteen weeks were up, he would repeat the entire process again. In this way, he focused on a particular virtue four times during each year in rotation.

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Know what you are aiming(DW #827)

This week, we are exploring Ben Franklin’s program for self growth.


The first thing that he did was he made a list of virtues that he wanted to grow within himself.


While the words that he used may be a slightly outdated, the virtues themselves are mostly timeless and we could benefit from adopting many of them in our lives.


Here is Franklin’s list of 13 virtues:


·      Temperance: moderating eating and drinking


·      Silence: speaking only when it benefits others or yourself


·      Order: letting everything have its place


·      Resolution: resolving to do what you should; doing without fail what you resolve


·      Frugality: being careful with money and resources; wasting nothing


·      Industry: working hard but...
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Benjamin Franklin’s Project(DW #826)

Some years ago, I came across something which has continued to fascinate and inspire me: Benjamin Franklin’s Moral Perfection Project


Benjamin Franklin, as you may know, started from humble beginnings and rose to become a successful printer, writer, musician, inventor, and, of course, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America.


While we may be aware of Franklin’s life accomplishments, what I find really inspiring is the processes he followed that led to his many accomplishments.


Franklin had a rocky start in life: by his early 20s, he had already failed in twice in business ventures. His personal life was also in trouble and he was raising a son born outside his marriage.


Personally and professionally, Franklin felt unsatisfied and decided to take charge and change the course of his life.


It seems that he realised that while he may not be able to control his life circumstances, he could control how he...
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Silly small steps(DW #825)

One of my teachers/mentors like to hammer in this point: when we planning a new habit or a change in behaviour, we need to make it EASY TO WIN.
When we are designing our new behaviours (yes DESIGNING – acting on purpose and with intention), we need to plan for days when we have the LEAST motivation.
This is not how most of us plan for change though.
We plan on change and new habits when we are the height of inspiration and motivation. And think we can take on the world.
WE ARE SO INSPIRED! We commit to huge goals – meditating for an hour, walking 10,000 steps, never eating sugar again etc., etc., etc.
And then real life hits. We have a sleepless night. The kids are being …. Children! We are tired and cranky and the last thing on our minds and within our energetic bandwidth is to work on self-improvement.
And when we fail to meet our goals, we think there is a big problem with us.
In his EXCELLENT book, Tiny...
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You and your chisel(DW #824)

Yesterday we spoke about how Michelangelo used his chisel to expose the latent beauty in a block of marble. And how we can also chip away at the barriers which stand between ourselves and the best versions of ourselves.
Interestingly, the English word character comes from the Greek word that means "chisel" or  more accurately, "the mark left by a chisel."
How cool is that!
Ourcharacteris formed by achisel. Just as the chisel is a small instrument, which can chip away at that block of marble in tiny tiny movements, our character is formed by the small choices that we make in the moments of our lives.
At any given time, we are chipping away at positive choices and harming our character OR we are chipping away at poor choices and creating a character worthy of ourselves.
Character is formed by the small choices that we make moment by moment by moment. Our choices add up over time to form and reveal our character.
So, let us ask...
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Learning from Michelangelo(DW #823)

opinion self development Oct 21, 2020
Have you heard the story of how the Italian artist and sculptor Michelangelo worked?
Legend has it that when he saw a block of marble, Michelangelo couldseethe latent statue within that block of marble.
"All" that he had to do, he said, was to remove the bits that did not belong in the finished piece of work.  In other words, he would patiently work with his chisel to chip away at that which did not belong in the statue.
Amazing right? But how does this apply to our lives?

All of us have within ourselves, a masterpiece. A best version of ourselves. Some great and hidden potential.
Our job, like that of Michelangelo, is to remove the that which is hiding the best version of ourselves.
So, what little habits do we need to chip away at to reveal the most beautiful version of you hidden within that marble?
And, importantly, which one little habit can you let go oftodayto reveal...
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Don’t be a metaphysical glutton(DW #822)

If you are anything like me, you get very inspired with books and lectures on self-growth, and love to keep making positive changes in your lives.
If you come across some wisdom that applies to your life, you are eager to implement it.
So far, so good. Small but continuous positive growth is what it is all about.
A word of caution, though.
It is a good idea to focus on one area of your life at one time. Pick something to work on and install that before tackling something else.
It is a recipe for crashing and burning if you try to address every area of your life all at once (don’t ask me how I know this!)

I love how American philosopher and writer Ken Wilber (often referred to as the "Einstein of consciousness studies") puts it: Don’t be a metaphysical glutton.

In other words: Don’t try to change EVERYTHING AT ONCE.

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Recommitment(DW #821)

The process of getting back on track to our path of progress is called Recommitment.

We have been discussing how even with much motivation and inspiration at the beginning, there WILL be times when we fail to live up to our commitments to ourselves or fall short of the standards we set for ourselves.

Sad but true.

So then what?

Once we spend a few minutes reminding ourselves that we are human and that self-compassion will get us further than self-criticism, it is time to RECOMMIT.

Again. And again. And again.

Just like the pilot that we discussed, keeps coming back on track after drifting, we remind ourselves of our path and get back on track.

Here are the steps:

Step 1. The destination/goal/target needs to be clear of course

Step 2. Remind yourself about the WHY. Why is this important? Why are you on this journey? What does it mean to you?

When we forget our why, we lose our way.

Step 3.Commit to the process. 100%.

Step 4. Take action. Get in motion. Keep taking baby steps....

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