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1% better

The Power of Getting 1% better?

1% better

When the goal seems too far away aim for 1%

Have you ever hiked up a mountain? I’ve hiked Pike’s Peak in Colorado several times. It’s a 14,115 foot mountain. I hiked it 3 times one summer as part of a volunteer job as a camp counselor. The beginning always felt fairly easy. But part way up I got tired, my legs began to burn, I complained, and I wanted to quit. Glancing up at how far away the top was felt overwhelming.

I found that sometimes I just needed to focus on the next section of the trail. To make smaller goals to conquer the next few switchbacks and stop freaking out about how long it was to the top.

View of Pike’s Peak from Garden of the Gods

I’m learning to apply that to my weight loss journey as well. If I look at how far I have to go I can sometimes get discouraged. But when I bring it down to what I need to do this month…

this week…

this day…

I can manage to keep the focus on the actions I need to take. One step at a time. Here are some tips to help you get 1% better at reaching your goals.

1. Minimum necessary habits

Part of continual self improvement is to decide what the minimum necessary habits are for you. It’s best to just pick a few habits that you will focus on at a time. What is the minimum that you will commit to each day? Right now for me this is making a 24 hour plan, following the plan, and eating between -2 and +2 on the hunger scale.

2. Track your selected habits

Spend the next month tracking your minimum necessary habits. Set up a tracking method. For me, I use a page in my planner and fill it out at the end of the each day. I also make a note about why I did or didn’t get all 3 habits done. There is so much learning in looking at successes and failures from each day.

3. Evaluate

At the end of a 30 day period, add up how many days you did each habit. Here are my results from the last 30 days:

Made 24 hour plan – 71%

Followed 24 hour plan – 42%

Followed hunger scale – 71%

I spent some time evaluating why I didn’t have higher numbers. In this particular time period I had some out of town travel and I was sick for a couple of weeks. Now I know that those situations are times that I need to plan for. I will travel again and I will be sick again. How can I set myself up for success in those situations? How can I be better prepared next time?

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to evaluate the moments that feel like a failure. Shame and guilt when you feel like you’re not good enough will never get you to your goal. Learning and growing is what will help you get better and push through.

4. Make a plan

Now you know your baseline. Focus on the next steps – getting 1% better. What will you need to think to get there? How will you need to feel? What actions will you take? Make a plan and get it done!

What habits will you track this month? If you need help evaluating where you are, where you want to be, and how to get there, sign up for a free consult call.

Sometimes You Need to Stretch Yourself

I get motivated by challenges. I’m not competitive, but a good challenge always increases the chance that I will complete what I start.

Earlier this year I got a Peloton bike. I’ve never been consistent with exercise but I joined a challenge called Power Zone Challenge. I quickly got addicted to it. I not only completed the challenge, but I increased my fitness score by 14%. I am now on my second Power Zone challenge to continue my fitness and weight loss journey.

I’ve implemented challenges in my own coaching business. I ran a 5 day challenge last week to help people who struggle with food cravings. While I was challenging the members of the group, I also challenged myself in doing Facebook Lives in the group each day of the challenge. I had never done a live video so doing it in a small group was a great place to start.

I upped my game by joining a challenge that is intended to stretch me even farther. It’s called the Stretch Yourself Challenge and it’s run by Kelly McCausey of Love People + Make Money. If you are running an online business, I encourage you to check out the link and join us this week. The challenge runs the whole month of September and there are 15 different mini challenges to stretch yourself and take your business to the next level. I’m going to do several of the challenges. The first one I’m tackling is to do a Facebook Live series on my public page. So, if you struggle with food cravings, tune into my Tammy Fuller Coaching Facebook page on Saturday mornings at 8 a.m. PDT this month to learn how to manage them.

Review of Atomic Habits by James Clear

stack of books with atomic habits on top

How Atomic Habits Get You to Your Goal

We sometimes fail to implement healthier habits because we bite off more than we can chew. We think if we just want to change bad enough we can get it done. We can muscle through with willpower and determination. But often, that method fails and we fall short of the finish line.

The book Atomic Habits by James Clear has been my favorite read so far this year. He describes atomic habits as tiny changes. Just a minuscule tweak in your daily systems that bring a 1% improvement. These little tweaks don’t seem to make a difference, but each tiny habit improvement builds on the next and over time your 1% gains turn into big wins.

This book breaks down the science of habit formation in an interesting way that makes you want to start implementing change. I have written before on one of my favorite books, The Compound Effect. Atomic habits are a great example of how tiny, incremental habits compound over time to create the results you want in your life.

Plan to Fail in 2019

Fail and Learn: The Key to Success

plan to fail

I used to think about failure as…well, failure. As a bad thing. But as I’ve worked on how I think about things this last year I realized that I’ve missed out on some really important lessons. I’ve learned that evaluating each failure brings with it important steps to getting better and getting it right the next time. Or the next.

Learning From Babies

plan to fail
ID 12084173 © Matthew Apps | Dreamstime.com

One of my favorite lessons from my mentor, Brooke Castillo, is the reminder of how babies learn to walk. They are the masters of failing right. They don’t let falling down keep them from trying again. They fall over and over again while learning. Each time they hit the ground and get up again they make their muscles stronger. They develop the strength and the balance to succeed because they fall. Not in spite of it. The failing is what builds their skill. It is the key!

How it Works

Now I’m learning to take a closer look each time I fail. My latest example has to do with a tech challenge I was having with my blog. I didn’t get all the tasks done that I had committed to a couple of weeks ago because I was stuck on a certain task. I tried multiple different ways. I tried watching YouTube videos to figure it out. I watched tutorials. I was frustrated. The old me would have given up. The old me would have stayed stuck.

Instead I took a look at the failure. I listed all the things that went right.
– I figured out other parts of the program
– I learned to take breaks when I was frustrated
– I acknowledged my feelings
– I figured out other tasks I could do when I was frustrated that kept me moving in the right direction
– I kept my mind open for other options that might work
– I showed up and didn’t quit
– I worked on it after work, even when I was tired
– I caught myself saying “there’s not enough” time and re-framed my thinking to “there’s plenty of time” (this is a lesson for another day – powerful stuff)

Only after I filled my brain with the good stuff, I listed what didn’t go right:
– Didn’t figure out the original program I wanted to use
– Didn’t figure out how to link the program I was trying as a second option
– Found more tweaks I needed to make on my website (this alone would have derailed me in the past)
– Underestimated how long this task would take

Then I listed what I would do differently next time:
– I would have figured out the tech before planning a launch
– I would hire someone who is good at this tech stuff
– I will build a road map of stuff that needs to be figured out before a launch so I would be more prepared next time

The Value

Doing this process created an amazing brain shift for me. The next day, instead of feeling discouraged, I was empowered to push through the negative feelings. I ended up figuring it out. And it felt so good to have figured it out myself. I learned that I can do hard things outside my comfort zone. I realized that if I do this with every fail of 2019 I will have a treasure trove of valuable lessons to build on.

My Plan to Fail

For 2019 I’m planning a goal that is way bigger than what I think I can actually accomplish. I’m excited for the person I will become in the attempt. I have a list of planned fails for the 1st quarter of the year. These are things that will stretch me and if I learn from each of them I can’t help but grow. When the quarter is over I will evaluate each win and each fail and then plan more fails for the next quarter. And so on. I’m looking forward to sharing what I learn with you. It’s a fresh way to look at New Year goals.

What will you create in 2019 for yourself?

4 Steps to Rock Your 2019 Goals

goals 2019

Photo from ID 125585661 © Oleksandr Shpak | Dreamstime.com

As we close out 2018 and look towards the new year you may be looking to write your 2019 goals. As you plan, look to these four areas of your life and plan ways you can be more intentional in your growth.

Focus on Your Morning Routine

One of the best things I’ve done for myself and my personal growth has been to develop a morning routine. I used to get up at the last minute to get ready for work and would head out the door feeling groggy and rushed. A couple of years ago I decided to be more intentional about how I start my day and it’s made all the difference for me. I show up at work now energized after taking care of myself knowing that I’ve already accomplished some of my most important tasks.

Read more about how to make over your mornings here.

Evaluate and Tune Up Your Environment

As you look at your 2019 goals is important to consider who you spend time with. Who are you hanging out with most of the time? Who are your mentors? Make sure you surround yourself with people who stretch you and encourage you to grow.

What do you spend your free time doing? Are you doing things that help you reach your goal or are you doing activities that keep you in your comfort zone and stagnant? Evaluate how you will spend your time going forward. What activities will you include that help you reach your goal and what activities will you cut out or decrease?

What are you reading? Reading (or listening to audio books) can be one of the best ways to learn and grow. But only if you take action on what you’re learning.  Check out the books I’ve read in 2018 here. Listening to podcasts can be another way to learn and take action.

Build Good Habits

The Compound Effect is the principle of reaping huge rewards from a series of small, seemingly insignificant habits. These habits, repeated daily, on a consistent basis don’t seem like much in the moment. But over time, the Compound Effect kicks in and the payoff is amazing. The book The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy is one of my favorites for building good, consistent habits.

One of the books I read this year is High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard. In this book there are 6 types of habits that high performers share:

  1. They seek clarity
  2. They generate energy
  3. They raise necessity
  4. They increase productivity
  5. They develop influence
  6. They demonstrate courage

Check out the book for more details on how to develop each habit.

Pay Attention to Your Thinking

Working on your mindset every day is so important. Believing that you can achieve your 2019 goals is a crucial part of your success. Step into the mindset of the person that has hit your goal. What does that person think and do? What decisions would he or she make in each situation?

If you are working on a weight loss goal I’d love to have you join me in the Upgrade Your Diet course. This is a great way to work on your mindset around weight loss and dieting. Get on the waiting list here: Upgrade Your Diet: New Habits*New Thinking*New You

New session starts January 2nd.

6 High Performance Habits That Can Make You Extraordinary

high performance habits

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way

High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard has been one of my favorite books of my 2018 Reading Goal Challenge. This is definitely a book that can help you be your best self. Burchard studied high performers for more than ten years to discover why certain people are successful, why some of those successful people are happier than others, and what deliberate habits do the happy, successful people practice.

You may be someone who is actively working on building good habits. But which habits can have the most impact? Burchard boils all that he learned into 6 habits: clarity, energy, necessity, productivity, influence and courage. I’ll write a bit about each habit but I encourage you to get the book and read it for yourself. There are great stories to illustrate each point and every section has actionable steps to build better habits in your own life.


High performers consciously seek clarity. They ask themselves questions more often. Who do I want to be? How do I want to interact in this relationship or at this meeting? What is meaningful? What is my focus in this moment? What feeling do I want to have and what do I need to think in order to generate that feeling? What’s working and what isn’t?

I have practiced seeking clarity over the last couple of years but this book has helped me dig a little deeper on that front. Burchard states that high performers envision their future self and create a picture of who they are growing into. This allows them to actively enrage in the activities that will help them become that person. Ask yourself, “What is my contribution to the future?”


High performers generate energy. They have more mental focus and stamina, greater positive range of emotions and greater physical vitality and health. The author describes the type of energy he’s talking about as, “positive and enduring mental, physical, and emotional vibrancy.”

He talks about 3 practices to generate energy:

  1. Release tension and set intention
  2. Bring the Joy
  3. Optimize Health


To perform at a higher level you must raise necessity. The driving forces of motivation are both internal and external. Internal forces include your own personal standards of excellence and obsession with your goal. External forces include your social duty or obligation and the urgency of obtaining the goal.

'The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.' - Vince LombardiClick To Tweet


One of the ways of increasing productivity is to take a break. It seems counter-intuitive but giving yourself a mental break to focus on a few moments of deep breathing and remembering your focus. Unfortunately I have a bad habit of taking a break and checking social media or email. This causes a sharp decline in my productivity because it’s so easy to get distracted from my goal.

Another productivity tip is to figure out what are the outputs that you produce that really matter. Which activities move the needle toward reaching your goal? Do more of those.

Burchard talks about breaking down each major goal into five major moves. What are the five moves you could make to rocket you towards your goal? 60% of your time should be devoted to working on those five moves.


High performers intentionally develop influence. They teach people how to think about things. They challenge others in the area of character, connections and contributions and encourage them to push farther and  to be better. Influencers tend to be role models for others.

Influence is the ability to understand other people and get them to act towards objectives. We can have positive influence on others all around us – not just in the workplace.


High performers demonstrate courage. Courage is a skill and it can be learned. Understand it and give yourself opportunities to practice it consistently . The more actions you take towards facing your fear the better you get at facing it. Courage, like fear, is contagious.

Here’s a quick video where the author describes the 6 habits himself.

Get the Book

There’s so much good stuff in here I encourage you to read it for yourself or get the audio. If you’ve read the book I’d love for you to drop a comment down below and tell me what you thought of it.

This post is a part of a 30 day series for the Ultimate Blogging Challenge. For more in this series click here for the main page with all the links.

2018 Reading Goal

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
― Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut

reading goal

Photo by Aliis Sinisalu on Unsplash

2018 Reading Goal

2018 is the 3rd year that I’ve set an intentional reading goal to challenge myself. I don’t do it just for the sake of saying I read more books. The goal is to be more intentional about the type of books I read and what I get out of them. I want to read books that are actionable and help me grow.

Types of Books

My book choices focus on personal development, spirituality, how-to, and biography/autobiography. I also throw in a few just for fun books here and there – these are good for my imagination. My goal this year is 24 books.

As part of my learning process I will blog about some of the books and share the key points that I find helpful. My hope is that some of these tips may be helpful for you too.

Disclaimer: The links for the book titles take you to Amazon. I am an Amazon affiliate and I make a few cents if you purchase using my link. This helps me fund this blog.

January Reading

My January reading was a nice mix of personal development, how-to, biography, and fiction.

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth – Read more about some of my lessons learned from this book here. The big takeaway I got from this book is that effort counts twice. Others may be more talented than I am but how I put my gifts to use with intentional practice matters even more.

The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success  by Darren Hardy – This one was a re-read. I will probably read this book every year. I find this book helpful for anyone, no matter what kind of goal you are working on. You can read more about it on my post here. I highly recommend that you download the worksheets that go with the book and DO the steps.

The Beauty of a Darker Soul – by Joshua Mantz – I saw Josh speak last year at a conference I attended. He is a veteran who was killed by a sniper in Iraq and saved by a skilled combat trauma team. He now works with veterans to help them heal not only from physical trauma but from the trauma of shame, guilt and powerlessness. Here’s a quick video of Josh.

Keto Clarity: Your Definitive Guide to the Benefits of a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet– by Jimmy Moore – This book has been a valuable resource in my keto journey. I will refer back to it over and over. Jimmy Moore has lost 180 pounds with a ketogenic lifestyle. This book is easy to read and includes information from research and physicians as well as his own experiences.

Small Great Things – by Jodi Picoult – This is my first book by this author and I enjoyed her writing style. This book tackles subjects such as power, race, and privilege. The moral dilemma of a nurse in an OB department gripped me from the beginning. As a Risk Manager for a hospital this one hit home.

February Reading

Kill the Spider – Carlos Whitaker – Carlos is a well-known worship leader, author and blogger. This is an engaging peek into a very tough part of the author’s struggle with deep-rooted issues that were cropping up in his life in various ways. I really identified with the concept that we should stop cleaning up the cobwebs in our lives and get to the root of the problem. Kill the Spider is a great read and has actionable steps for you to start looking at the spiders in your life.

Even So, Joy: Our Journey through Heartbreak, Hope and Triumph – Lesa Brackbill – This book is powerful. Lesa is a friend that I met through Facebook when we were doing an online challenge together. We’ve been able to connect in person a couple of times even though we live across the country from each other. This book tells the story of of their daughter Tori who was diagnosed with a fatal genetic disorder known as Krabbe Leukodystrophy.  Lesa and Brennan’s story is a beautiful example of how we can live with joy even in the midst of unfathomable grief and pain.

Memoirs of Pontius Pilate – James R. Mills – This novel is written from the perspective of Pontius Pilate looking at the events surrounding Jesus life and crucifixion. I found it to be a fascinating read and it gave me a better perspective of the political situation of that historical time. It’s interesting to see the historical events from the perspective of the Romans.

March Reading

High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way – Brendon Burchard – I love anything by Brendon Burchard. His latest book covers 6 deliberate habits that high performers embody. The habits are clarity, energy, necessity, productivity, influence and courage. This is a meaty book filled with actionable information to help you be your best. He is a great storyteller and his examples make the reading interesting.

The 49th Mystic: Beyond the Circle – Ted Dekker – This book will be released in May. I got an advanced copy and enjoyed reading it ahead of time. If you have enjoyed the Circle series by Mr. Dekker you will enjoy this one. It’s the first book in a two book series and takes place years after Thomas Hunter fell asleep in one world and woke in another. If you have not read the Circle series you can still enjoy the book. The fun part of the series is that the stories are interwoven so there’s no right book to start with or end with. Here’s a link to the original Circle series.

April Reading

A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even If You Flunked Algebra) – Barbara Oakley – This book wins the subtitle prize. The subtitle is what convinced me to buy this book. I was always a good student in school until I hit algebra and then I really struggled. This continued throughout high school and college. I’ve not been much help to my kids as they’ve hit challenges in school with math. I got this book so that I could stop telling myself that I’m bad at math. Math is a skill that can be learned and telling myself that story doesn’t serve me. I found this book very interesting and I will go back and read it again at another time. It digs into how to learn math and science by way of teaching how your brain works when it is learning. This book is helpful for learning math and science but also helpful for learning anything.

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking – Malcolm Gladwell – This book was sitting on my shelf waiting to be read when my son (a high school Freshman) came home with a copy assigned by his English teacher. I enjoy Gladwell’s story telling. He is a master of using story to make you think and look at things in a new way. This book delves into the way we make judgments and decisions in the blink of an eye. I found it very interesting and brought up some great discussions between me and my son.

Hell’s Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness, Butcher of Men – Harold Schechter – This book was a pure impulsive purchase. It was free on my Kindle and I was fascinated at the thought of a female serial killer in the early 1900s. It’s a true-crime account of a woman who lured men to her Indiana farm and brutally murdered them. If you enjoy true-crime stories this was an interesting read.

May Reading

The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey – I read this book straight through but I am going to go back and read it again with a pen and a notebook. It is a look at the Jesus of the Gospels that made me look at Him with a renewed viewpoint and blasted through some of my preconceptions. The author asks himself tough  questions and then digs through the Scriptures for the answers. Yancey made me think deeper about the Bible stories I’ve grown up with and made me want to study and learn more.

June Reading

The Kalahari Typing School for Men by Alexander McCall Smith – This is Book 4 of the series The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency Books. I find this series endearing. The setting is Botswana and the series follows private detective Precious Ramotswe and her business adventures. I have loved all 4 books and will continue to finish the series. The stories are heartwarming and I enjoy learning a bit of the culture of Botswana. The stories are easy to read and leave you feeling good.

July Reading 

A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold – This book is written by the mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the shooters in the Columbine High School tragedy. I first heard her speak in an interview on John O’Leary’s Live Inspired podcast. I was struck by her story and how heartbreaking the event was through the eyes of the mother of a killer. Dylan was very different from the boy I imagined would become a murderer. This is her journey of reconciling the boy she loved, and raised and thought she knew with the killer that killed 12 children and a teacher and wounded many others. It will shake you but it is also a story of how to work through tragedy and grief and learn how to reach out and help others. Highly recommended.

August Reading

Beartown by Fredrik Backman – After reading A Man Called Ove by the same author I wanted to read more by him. This book did not disappoint but it was different than I expected. On the surface it’s about a hockey team in a hockey town. Backman develops characters that you quickly bond with. But underneath there is a story of a hidden crime and deception. There are several heavy topics tackled in this story and they are masterfully told. I’ve heard that this is going to be a movie as well.

There’s Not Enough Time…and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves by Jill Farmer – This book was sent to me by my coach, Amy Latta after we had a discussion about the concept of overwhelm. Farmer takes on the thought that there’s not enough time and turns it on it’s head. If you struggle with the same thought as I did, I encourage you to grab the book and learn a new way of thinking. It’s a quick, fun read and very insightful.

September Reading

Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank – I listened to this one on Audible. This novel is set in a town in Florida and is about a town that is mostly spared from nuclear holocaust while much of the country around them is ravaged. It is a story of survival and ingenuity. The main characters were well developed and I thoroughly enjoyed the story.

New Spring: The Novel by Robert Jordan – This is a prequel to the Wheel of Time series. The Wheel of Time series are one of my favorite reads of all time. When the series ended I was sad to say goodbye to the characters that I had grown to love over a period of years. New Spring was a nice way to revisit some of the characters, namely Moiraine and Lan. It tells the story of their backgrounds and how they met and how the search for the Dragon Reborn began. If you are a fan of The Wheel of Time, I recommend that you pick this one up too.

October Reading

Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah – I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I first heard Trevor on a podcast (I can’t remember which one). He is also on the Daily Show but I didn’t realize that until later. This book is a memoir of his childhood in South Africa. He was a child during the time that apartheid ended. He was born of a Swiss/German father and a black African mother. At the time it was illegal for whites and blacks to have sexual relations. Trevor didn’t fit in with the whites and didn’t fit in with the blacks either. Where he came from, a mixed-race child is called colored, but he didn’t fit in with the colored either because he was raised black. He is a comedian so the stories are funny and entertaining, but many times heartbreaking as well. I enjoyed Trevor’s life story and I appreciated the opportunity to learn about the many different South African cultures and the difficulties he faced navigating them.

November Reading

Brit-Marie Was Here: A Novel by Fredrik Backman – Another book by the author of A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, and Beartown. This story carries on the story of one of the characters of My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry. Britt-Marie is a person that would not be very likable if I met her in real life. At least not at first. But as the story goes along, I fell in love with her. Fredrik Backman is an expert in developing characters you can fall in love with. He reveals their stories bit by bit and weaves an engaging tale every single time. Even though this story occurs after My Grandmother, you could totally read them out of order.

The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis – This book is a fictional view of heaven and hell. The protagonist takes a bus ride in a dream and visits hell and then heaven. I always find Lewis’ writing to be profound and this book is no exception. For example, his description of those who chose hell over heaven, “There is always something they insist on keeping even at the price of misery. There is always something they prefer to joy – that is, to reality. Ye see it easily enough in a spoiled child that would sooner miss its play and its supper than say it was sorry and be friends.” And the description of the joy of heaven in comparison to the miseries of hell, “And yet all loneliness, angers, hatreds, envies and itchings that it (hell) contains, if rolled into one single experience and put into the scale against the least moment of the joy that is felt by the least in Heaven, would have no weight that could be registered at all.”

December Reading

The Testament by John Grisham – I hadn’t intended to read this book until my Mom handed it to me and said that it was good. I really enjoyed it. I don’t think I’ve ever read a John Grisham book that I didn’t enjoy. It’s another of Grisham’s legal stories but I really liked how the hero in the story goes from lost and broken to redeemed by the end of the story. It was refreshing.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

Where the Crawdads Sing

Thank You!

Thank you for visiting my reading challenge page. Comment below if you are you working on a reading goal this year? I’d love to cheer you on and to hear what you’re reading. One technique that helps me maintain progress is to use a habit tracker to read at least 30 minutes per day. You can download my free weekly habit tracker/planner page  below.

Disclaimer: The links to the books are Amazon links where I receive a small affiliate commission. Buying from my links helps to support this website.

How to Grow Your Grit

Learn to Grow Your Grit and Achieve More of Your Goals

This post is a follow up to the post Stop Quitting on Yourself by Growing Your Grit.

I have always felt that I lacked the “stick-to-it-iveness” that others seemed to have when it came to sticking with my goals. I had passion but not a lot of perseverance. I would start off with great gusto on a new goal or a new project, only to give up before reaching it’s completion. My latest read has been encouraging in the news that I can improve my “grit.”

Angela Duckworth is a researcher and professor who studies the science of grit. In her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance she uses the word “grit” to describe an intangible quality that people have that combines passion and perseverance. While we all have natural talents, there is usually a gap between our potential and what we actually achieve. Grit helps us narrow that gap. Some people are naturally “grittier” than others but the good news is that we can grow our grit. We can learn to push through difficult challenges and conquer our highest goals.

West Point – Beast Barracks

Duckworth tested her theory at West Point. The leaders at West Point had a system to try to determine which candidates might drop out during the weeks known as Beast Barracks. This takes place in the summer before entering West Point. Their system, known as the Whole Candidate Score was an attempt at predicting who would make it through Beast Barracks. To test the grit theory they administered a survey to rank each candidates grit.  The  result of this survey was a much better predictor of which candidates would survive Beast Barracks. This survey identified candidates with a combination of passion and perseverance that displayed itself in determination and resilience.

Effort Counts Twice

Have you ever been frustrated that someone is more talented at something than you are? Well, the good news is effort counts twice as much as talent. All the West Point candidates had talent. It is a very rigorous screening process before a candidate even earns the right to be invited to West Point. But those who had the potential to stick it out had more than just raw talent. Consider the following equations:

Talent + effort = skills

Skills + effort = achievement

In these equations is a simplified explanation of how talent paired with focused effort produces skills. When those skills are paired with effort (as in practice) it produces achievement.

How does this work for me?

You can apply this principle to any goal you are working on. Even a health goal. For example: I lose weight painfully slowly. I don’t have the raw “talent” that naturally thin people do. I have to work extra hard at it and be more disciplined. As I put effort into it I build the skills necessary to get better at it (meal planning, figuring out what foods to eat, self-control, discipline, self-care, etc.). As I continue to build skills and practice these new habits, I get better and better at losing weight.

The author quotes writer John Irving as saying, “it doesn’t hurt anybody to have to go slowly.”  Irving was not a writer with natural raw talent. But with effort he became a master at his craft and his stories have been read by millions.

Grow Your Grit (improve your stick-to-it-iveness)

If you find that you don’t stick with your goals to completion there are ways to improve your grit.

From the Inside

You can improve your grit from the inside by:

  • cultivating interests (learn more about the habits you need to build)
  • challenge yourself daily (stretch yourself, make it a game)
  • connect to your purpose for achieving the goal (find a compelling purpose)
  • practice hope when you feel like it’s a lost cause (push through)

From the Outside

You can improve your grit from the outside by:

  • finding a mentor who will encourage you but who will also be tough
  • finding others working on the same goals – accountability matters
  • finding the friends and family members that will cheer you on and be supportive

Putting the Compound Effect to Good Use in Your Life

the compound effectThis small, easy-to-read book is deceptive. The concepts are simple to understand and the examples are compelling. But the power of “small, smart choices, completed consistently over time” can be the key to whether or not you achieve your goals. The compound effect is at work in your life whether you realize it or not. The question is whether you will use it to your advantage or if you will let it gradually drift you off course. Imagine an airplane on taking off from the west coast on autopilot. If the plane is pointed one degree off course and continues across the country, it can put you 50 miles off course by the time it arrives on the west coast. If you wonder why you keep missing your targets, I encourage you to get this book.

The Key is to Take Action

The Compound Effect is one of the best personal development books I’ve read. I read it the first time a couple of years ago and I just read through it again this month as I am refocusing on my goals. I originally chose the book as a business book but I quickly realized that the concepts in the book can apply to ANY area in my life that I want to improve. The subtitle is Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success. I read the book quickly the first time because I couldn’t put it down. But it’s not the type of book that you should just read and move on to the next book. This book is filled with actionable steps that will change you if you take the steps. Each chapter gives you steps you can implement in your life to begin to make those small actions that add up to big results over time. There are free worksheets to go along with the book that you can download online. If you’re needing a kick start to achieving your goals, get this book!

Daily Disciplines

Daily disciplines are not fun and they are not always easy. That’s why they are called disciplines. You have to purpose in your heart to complete these mundane habits. But if you stay with them long enough they will make a difference in your life that builds over time. Anyone who has been successful in their lives has implemented daily disciplines. These could be physical, financial, or mental habits.


Momentum is one of the key concepts to the book. Whenever you start to develop is a new habit it is difficult and tedious. It takes more effort in the beginning. But as you are consistent, the momentum builds and builds until it takes very little effort to continue with the momentum. The gains grow larger and larger.

Bookend Your Day

Another key point of the book is to bookend your day with great habits to set yourself up for success. Read more about how to design a morning makeover to get your day off to a great start. In general your morning and your evening are the parts of your day you can control. By using these times to focus on good habits you can be better prepared for the more unpredictable parts of your day.


I am an Amazon affiliate so if you purchase using the link below I make a small amount that helps me run this blog. Feel free to purchase the book through any avenue you choose. Just read it and put the steps into action. You won’t regret it. Stop living your life on autopilot. The compound effect is active in your life already.

boost your willpower

Boost Your Willpower to Achieve Your Goal

boost your willpowerOne definition of willpower is doing what you need to do, when you need to do it, whether you feel like it or not. The bad news is willpower can be exhausted like an over-used muscle. The good news is that you can cultivate willpower and strengthen it.

Best Uses of Willpower:

Because your willpower can be depleted, it’s best to use it wisely and not squander it. An example of wasting your willpower is using it on emergencies such as temptation. Another example is trying to tackle 100 things at once and fatiguing your brain. The best way to use your willpower is in building habits that will make your life easier. Once these habits are ingrained in your life they will happen on autopilot. Here is one example of how this works in my life: I prepare food on Sundays that I can use for my lunches. That way when I’m in a rush in the morning I’m not grabbing just any old thing to pack in my lunch. And I don’t end up at work with no food and fall into the trap of fast food or junk food for lunch. Food prep has become a habit for me and I don’t have to think about it anymore, it’s just part of my routine.

Pre-Commit to Your Success

Put systems in place to help move you towards success. Pre-commit to difficult decisions ahead of time. Here are some of my examples:

  • If it’s a work day, then I will exercise before work. I set myself up for success by having my workout clothes and shoes set out and ready.
  • If I am going to lunch with friends, then I will put my phone away and be fully present.
  • If I am going to a restaurant, then I will only choose foods that are in my nutrition plan. To make this one even better I look up the restaurant’s menu online and choose what I will order ahead of time. That way I’m making a fully informed decision and it’s easy when I’m there.

Businesses know these principles when they market to us. Just go to a Starbucks on a busy day. You may start out with the best intentions to only buy a small skinny latte. But you have to walk past all the shelves with many different, delicious snacks on them. Once you’re in line there are more choices to resist in the food case. At the register there are even more yummy snacks. Chocolate-covered coffee beans, anyone?  By the time you get to the register your brain wants to reward you for being so good and resisting all those temptations and you give in and get “just one small treat.” Your willpower wore out.

Ways to Boost Willpower

Breathe – In moments where you need a boost of willpower, take the time to take some deliberate, deep breaths. This action can create some space between your thoughts and emotions and give you time to plan a course of action that is in line with your goals. Just one minute of deep breathing provides a disconnect between an impulse and your reaction to give you time to make a better decision.

Nutrition – Good nutrition is vital. Your brain doesn’t function as effectively on junk fuel. Sugar and flour are very ineffective brain fuel.

Get Moving – Exercise is known to increase willpower and is good for your overall health.

Sleep – Adequate sleep improves your ability to make good decisions.

Meditation – Taking the time to quiet your mind has been shown to increase blood flow to the pre-frontal cortex. This is the thinking/processing/willpower part of the brain. I have started taking 10 minutes in the morning to practice mediation.

Stress Relief – Increased stress decreases willpower. We tend to turn to ineffective stress relief methods. These are things like scrolling through Facebook, surfing the internet, binging on TV shows, drinking, eating, video games, etc. We think these things are helpful because we get a boost of dopamine that feels good in the moment. But it doesn’t actually allow you to recover your willpower. More effective strategies include things like meditation and exercise, petting your dog or cat, time with loved ones or taking a walk.

How will you boost your willpower this week? What are some things you can stop doing that are depleting your willpower? Leave a comment or jump over to our free nutrition support group on Facebook here.