Reviews

Willpower - Book Review

“One of the most common reasons for the self-control problem is overconfidence in willpower.”

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Willpower is a resource that we need to spend time exercising and using wisely to avoid overwhelming ourselves and failing to achieve personal goals.  This book helps explain what willpower really is, what it can do for us, and the limits of willpower.  Supported by scientific studies and research, this is a self-help book without any of the fluff.

1. Willpower is a limited resource.  You only have one source of willpower for all the needs of the day and the willpower to resist sweets uses up the same reserve of willpower for dealing with annoying coworkers.  Each is using self-control and the studies outlined throughout the book show that these take a toll on us throughout the day. 

2. Our environment can either help or hurt our willpower.  After working hard to be patient and kind to everyone around us, it is vital to construct an environment that does not tempt us too much when our self-control is depleted.

You may not care if your bed is made or your room is clean, but these environmental cues subtly influence your brain and your behavior, making it ultimately less of a strain to maintain self-discipline.
— Page 252

3. Take on one big thing at a time. When trying to lose weight, it is best to focus your energy solely on this. This will require a lot of willpower and as this is a precious and limited resource, it will increase your odds of success.  Further, at the end of the year, be sure to only make one New Year’s resolution.

No-one has enough willpower for that list…Each time you try to follow one, you reduce your capacity for all the others.
— Page 38

4. Willpower is directly connected to Glucose levels.  If your body runs out of glucose it will affect your decision-making ability and cause you to make bad choices. Our bodies will crave sugary foods to replenish the glucose levels and will make it harder to stick with diet goals.

5. Avoid conflicting goals. For example, setting a goal to be promoted and spending more time playing golf will likely result in failure in one or both goals. There are three outcomes in conflicting goals as demonstrated in a study published in 1988:

1.     You worry a lot

2.     You get less done

3.     Your health suffers, physically as well as mentally

6. Willpower can be strengthened with exercise.  Like any muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it will get. By choosing things to exercise self control, like sitting up straight, overall willpower increases not only in posture, but in other tests as well. 

7. There is something called 'Decision Fatigue'. The more decisions we need to make in a day, the more it will affect how we make the choices at the end of the day. This concept is demonstrated through multiple studies but the main point is this, if you are forced to make a lot of decisions in a short time, be prepared for the fatigue that sets in and know that you will need to work harder to make positive choices. 

To learn more about this concept click Here.

8. Know your limits – We overestimate our ability to control ourselves.  The odds are against us, but we can proactively set ourselves up for a better outcome with a little planning.  (For this reason, I decided to use M&M's in the photo above rather than a donut!)

9. Pre-commitment is the ultimate offensive weapon for self-control. “Buy junk food in small packages or keep them out of the kitchen altogether. Plan meals by the week, rather than on the spur of the moment when it’s already past dinnertime and you’re starving.”

10. Self-control is the most underappreciated character trait.  After reading this book it is clear that we need to put a higher importance in controlling ourselves. As shown in the Values in Action Inventory of Strengths study, self-regulation is typically last place when personally rating the list of character strengths. 

Self-control is ultimately about much more than self-help. It’s essential for savoring your time on earth and sharing joy with the people you love.
— Page 260

In summary, I wouldn’t say this is a must read, but it is a must listen to.  The audio version is very well done with the intro done by the authors, and the main reader doesn’t add that typical self-help soft voice. You can find it Here.

Triggers Book Review

Trigger Cover

This book is perfect for anyone that wants to get their professional and personal life back on track. 

I first heard about this book from Myke Hurley and CGP Grey on the Cortex Podcast and they both gave it very positive reviews.  The author, Marshall Goldsmith is a professional coach and has a unique method of getting his message across.  He is also only paid after the people around the individual he is coaching agree that the subject has changed for the better.

Here he is in a TED Talk from 2005

 

There is so much to unpack in this book as it is full of useful examples so to keep this review short, I’ll focus on a few of the main topics as to why you should read it.

I. TRIGGERS

As the book’s name identifies, the first step in working to better yourself, is identify the triggers that are causing you to feel stressed, upset, regretful, and resentful.  The paragraph that I personally identified with was right at the beginning: 

Regret is the emotion we experience when we assess our own present circumstances and reconsider how we got here. We replay what we actually did against what we should have done-and find ourselves wanting in some way. Regret can hurt.

Once identifying the triggers that effect us, the book goes into how we react and process the impacts on us.

We seldom recognize that self-control is a limited resource. As we become tired our self-control begins to waiver and may eventually disappear.

By acknowledging we all have a mental “leader role’ in the morning, but by the afternoon we should take more of an ‘employee role’ and stick to what we set out to do by following a guiding system.  The system to use is laid out in the second section of the book.

II. The 6 Questions to Kick-Start Change

  1. Did I do my best to set clear goals?
  2. Did I do my best to make progress toward my goals?
  3. Did I do my best to find meaning?
  4. Did I do my best to be happy?
  5. Did I do my best to build positive relationships?
  6. Did I do my best to be fully engaged?

While these are all very general, this is only the starting point for the questions that matter the most to you and your goals.  Specific questions are encouraged once you identify what you want to work on, like eating fewer carbs.  The transformative substance of the book explains that focusing on effort, rather than results, is the main objective in the short term.  Each day if you asked yourself how well you tried, it makes you much more accountable.

The daily questions are scored on a number system 1-10 on how well you tried to do something.  Here are my own questions I came up with and so far after starting this program I have lost 5 lbs after 2 weeks.

Active Questions

III. Structure

For my personal goals, the structure is what I had been missing in the past.  Once you have the data from the daily questions, or that you already know you would like to improve, the structure is there to help. The examples in this section provide evidence to show that by setting up things for yourself ahead of time, you will be able to achieve the goals you set out for yourself.

This section also shows where you may suffer and how to get avoid failing. One of the main points made in this section deals with something called Emotional Depletion. 

Basically, all the natural urges we try to rein in during the day have the potential to rush toward center stage as the day progresses and our depletion increases. It doesn’t mean they will materialize, but they’re lurking within us, waiting for the right trigger.

SUMMARY

I would say that this book is geared more to the professional life, but it has many personal aspects that make it a well rounded read.  You can find it on Amazon here.  I also recommend the audio book version as it is shorter than most books at about 6hrs.

 Here is a longer list of questions to get you started.

Here is a longer list of questions to get you started.

To get you started on your own list of questions, I would like to host a giveaway for a free copy of Triggers, as well as a Leuchtturm1917 notebook with matching pen loop!  Simply comment on this blog or on the social site about one thing you are working on to better yourself or want to work on.  Drawing will be made on Friday, June 29 at 12pm EDT. Good Luck!

Giveaway!

Complete TUL Pen Review

For anyone that has gone into an Office Max or Office Depot in the past few years, you likely have noticed the large TUL pen display with hundreds of pens.  I tried to ignore the shiny display of writing "tuls" but finally started trying them out and want to share my thoughts on the distinct writing/drawing experiences. 

TUL Pens

To begin, the name TUL is written with a macron over the 'u' making the vowel long so it is pronounced "tool."  I talked to the folks over at Office Max about these pens so you can find out more about the brand at the end of the review.

TUL vs tools

PEN REVIEW

Currently, the pens offered are Ballpoint, Gel, and Rollerball, and each comes in Fine (0.5mm) and Medium (0.7mm) points.  They did have a marker pen in the past, but they did away with these. From time to time there are also limited edition colors available, and I’ll talk about these further down.  

Overall, all the pens write very wet.  Even the ballpoint lets out ink much faster than any pen I can compare it to.  If you like this characteristic, you will love the medium points as they put down a lot of ink, very quickly.  I found this was a nice benefit the faster I wrote, but can get a bit messy. 

BALLPOINT PENS

The ballpoint pens come in the standard colors of black, blue and red. After using these pens to sketch for a while, I noticed the ink has occasionally created a small glob.  After looking at other reviews, this is not uncommon and may be created from the paper being used.  I tried it out on some smooth Rhodia paper, and didn’t have an issue.

GEL PENS

The Gel pens come in a large range of colors and include some very bright color sets.  These are perfect for those that like to add color to their bullet journals and planners.  The ink is super smooth and the black ink lays down a very rich dark line. These are all retractable/click pens for easy transport and have sturdy clips.  The color packs come in 8 or 14 sets.

 Gel ink color pack of eight.  See the Giveaway section below for a chance to win this set!

Gel ink color pack of eight.  See the Giveaway section below for a chance to win this set!

The gels also include a needle tip if you are going to use them with a ruler and both tip types are well constructed with no noticeable movement when writing. 

 Needle point vs cone gel pens

Needle point vs cone gel pens

ROLLERBALL PENS

My favorite of the pens are the Rollerballs.  These have a great overall design appeal, as well as a larger barrel diameter that fits very well in my hand.  Again, they are quite wet even for a rollerball but the lines are still nice and clean if I write a touch slower.  There are not as many color choices like with the gel pens, but the black is a great dark rich ink, and the blue is nice and bright. 

Rollerballs

MECHANICAL PENCLS

Finally, the TUL line-up also includes the mechanical pencil in 0.7mm.  These have a solf rubber coating on the full length of the barrel and is a nice unique touch for pencils. The barrel is also slightly larger than typical pencils and fit well in my hand.  The pencils are now offered in several color choices like blue, purple, pink and black.

The really nice feature of these pencils is the 1 inch eraser built into the back of the pencil.  It unscrews as you need it and fits securely to the end.  The clip is the same as the pens and is solid.

TULS

The complete lineup of pens and pencil writing samples

Writing samples

Something I also love about these pens are the limited editions they put out roughly twice a year.  Currently, the "Bright's" color pens are offered, but there is a new one coming soon!  See below in the Q&A for the date.  A few of the previous limited editions are available on Ebay, and the rose gold pearl edition is getting quite expensive.  A set of 4 ballpoints are going for $47!  

 Copper Metal Rollerball 2016 Limited Edition

Copper Metal Rollerball 2016 Limited Edition

Q&A WITH NICOLE LORD AT OFFICE DEPOT

I wanted to find out more about these pens and so I reached out to Office Depot and they were kind enough to share their thoughts on a few items:

How do you come up with the new limited edition colors?

We love our limited-edition colors because they allow us to showcase the pens our customers trust for outstanding performance in a unique way. Each limited-edition story and color palette is carefully selected by our in-house designers based on the anticipated trends of the season. We also recently introduced our exclusive line of TUL notebooks and accessories into these limited-edition collections.

Can we start to get excited about a new limited edition or new product coming out soon?

Earlier this year, we launched TUL Brights pens available in 14 vivid colors and note-taking system available in four bold limited-edition colors that TUL enthusiasts can purchase online or in store. Look out for our newest limited edition pen and notebook collection in stores and online in October – our most giftable TUL collection yet!

What is the meaning/history behind the name TUL?

TUL was developed by OfficeMax in 2006 as an exclusive writing brand that delivers affordable luxury to our customers. We strive to be the go-to tools for entrepreneurs and business leaders who are seeking products that inspire with design and are precision engineered for outstanding performance.

Can you share how these pens are made or a bit about the design process?

Each one of our TUL pens is precision engineered, hand assembled, and hand tested for outstanding performance. We take pride in ensuring our customers that our pens consistently deliver smooth, vibrant lines at first write. And, we believe the discipline and rigor behind the making of these products helps us deliver on that promise.


I highly recommend you check these pens out and if you go this week they have some great Back-to-School sales.  The clearance sections of the stores also have some good deals as well.  Amazon carries them, but without coupons and sales available, the prices are a bit too high for my taste.  

Also available under the TUL brand are the customizable notebook systems.  These are getting very popular due to the growing range of paper choices, cover colors, and sizes available.  I haven't used these yet, but I know from friends that they are really handy.  Check them out here.

 The disks hold all types of page refills depending on your needs.

The disks hold all types of page refills depending on your needs.

GIVEAWAY!

TUL Colors

I picked up an extra set of gel color pens and want to give them away!  Please sign up for my newsletter below to enter.   Random drawing will be held this Friday at midnight for US residents.

First look at the new Bullet Journal Companion App

Bullet Journaling Companion
Finally, a great Bullet Journal App to go along with the paper notebook.
— Everyone

Ryder Carrol has released a beautifully designed app to work alongside your Bullet Journal. While this is not to be used as a replacement of the journal, it is a great resource and reminder tool.

The main premise of the app is to encourage the user to reflect on the day with two reminder notifications.  If you click on the notification you are rewarded with an inspirational quote and the satisfaction of crossing off the day off in the calendar.  

Companion Calendar

The Morning reflection helps to give the day purpose and the one at night helps review and catalog the day to help remember what you accomplished.

Priced at $2.99, this app is designed for the beginner and intermittent bullet journaler that wishes they could remember to update their journal every day.  For some journalers, this price will seem high as they don't need a reminder for something they do naturally.  However, for the beginner just starting out, this app is a must have.  The cost is the same as buying a pen loop or a new pen to use with the journal, but this app has some really nice features for those just starting up.

  • Articles - If you are not convinced of the benefits on Bullet Journaling, or need some inspiration this is a collection of well-written blog posts.
  • Guide -  This is the collection of all the beginner videos introducing the core concepts on Bullet Journaling.
  • Reflection - This is basic premise of the app and based on Ryder's recent TEDx talk about Leading an Intentional Life.
  • Store - It is scary easy to buy a new Bullet Journal designed by Ryder and made by Leuchtturm.  
 My personal BuJo

My personal BuJo

If you are interested in the app you can find it HERE.

In case you haven't seen Ryder's TEDx talk, here is the video.  I liked the analogy of shopping while hungry.

If you have the app, do you have any thoughts on using it?