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Willpower Doesn’t Work

If you can’t overcome your environment, you need to create it.

Instead of writing the ‘usual’ end of year article about goal setting or reviewing the year, I’m going to tell you something counterintuitive.

As we arrive at the year 2018, you can’t overcome your environment.  So you need to create it.

How do you do that? Well, it’s not by doing Annual Reviews. And it’s not by setting New Year’s Resolutions.


You see, one of the biggest challenges with annual goals is that life changes so much in a year that any goals you set now may not even be relevant in 6 months, let alone in 12 months. 

In fact, the reason I’m doing an “Annual Review” right now is because I do a review every 90 days. More of that in a moment.


You see, the problem with New Year’s Resolutions is that a goal for the end of the year can seem so far away that days, weeks and months can pass by because you constantly feel “I can always start tomorrow” 

On top of that, if you are working on the same goal every single day for a year, that’s a whole lotta willpower you’ve got to call on.

If you’re relying on willpower alone to help you lose weight, improve your relationships, or achieve more at work, you’re doomed to fail. The environment around us is far too powerful, stimulating, addicting, and stressful...” – Benjamin Hardy


One of my favorite ways to think differently is by changing the way I think of time. 

I’ve learned to think bigger and smaller than I used to think:

  • BIGGER: 25 YEARS – I learned from Dan Sullivan, who teaches entrepreneurs, the power of setting ambitious 25 year goals. 4PC—our community of the top 4% of coaches—is about to begin year 4 of 25. Thinking this far into the future is exciting and inspiring for me. And it allows me to let go of my usual concerns about setbacks and challenges because I know they won’t matter in 25 years. 

  • SMALLER: 90 DAYS – Ninety days, however, allows you to work on longer term goals—but in smaller chunks. That way, you always see the end in sight. And if things aren’t working you can easily reset in another ninety days. The coolest thing is that every 90 days is just 1% of your 25 year goal. Working in 90 day intervals—and taking time to reflect, every 90 days—has let me accomplish more but also feel more in control of my life and business. 

I’ve spent the last few days reviewing the goals, intentions and desires I set every 90 days throughout this year.

I’ve looked at what worked. And what didn’t. Where I was too ambitious. And where I wasn’t ambitious enough. What energized me. And what drained me. 


One of the easiest and simplest ways to help a client accomplish their goals and achieve amazing things is to NOT focus on them! But instead to focus on the people, places, things and habits that are draining their energy.

A few years ago, I took a Tai Chi class. You know, the kind of martial art you see elderly people doing in the park, slowly twisting and turning their limbs in the air.

I’d never really understood it before. But the teacher had a very simple explanation.

He said, “Rich, your body is constantly out of alignment in tiny ways. Your ankle is 1° off, which means your knee is 1° off, which means your hip is 1° off, which means your spine is 1° off, which means your shoulder is 1° off, which means your neck is 1° off…

Every misalignment requires extra energy. And all of these tiny misalignments are draining you of energy.

The movements we do in Tai Chi bring your body back into alignment. And all of that energy you were using is now freed up—and you have more energy!”

Wow, I thought. That’s precisely what I do when coaching people. I help them STOP doing everything that drains them of energy. Then they have more energy. And those ‘Impossible Goals’ no longer seem quite so impossible! 

When you do this every 90 days, you give yourself more opportunities to get back into alignment and back on track.


The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say “no” to almost everything.” – Warren Buffett

There’s a story of Warren Buffett joking to his pilot that he wasn’t doing his job because he’d been working for him too long. He offered to help him go after more of his goals and dreams.

Buffett asked his pilot to list the 25 most important things he wanted to do in his life. And then he asked him to review each goal and choose his 5 most important ones.

Things got interesting when Buffet then asked him, “What about these other 20 things on your list that you didn’t circle?” Buffett asked. “What is your plan for completing those?”

His pilot said he’d focus mainly on his top 5 goals but work on the others when he had spare time with just as much dedication.

And that was the moment, Buffett turned serious.

He said, “You’ve got it wrong. Everything you didn’t circle just became your ‘avoid at all cost list.’ No matter what, these things get no attention from you until you’ve succeeded with your top five.”

How I’m transforming MY energy drainers from 2017

The most significant energy drainers I’ve seen as I review the year 2017 are email and Facebook.

OK, that’s not news to me!

What IS news is that I am determined to get ahead of this challenge in the new year.

What IS news is that I am willing to admit that I am HELPLESS if I try to handle this ALONE.

My INSIGHT from this year’s annual review has been that I do NOT have the willpower or the skillset to fight the dopamine hits that the best scientists on the planet have built into these social media sites.

The challenge I have is that email and Facebook can’t simply be added to my Avoid At All Cost List. They are actually valuable tools when used well.

But I have to use them DIFFERENTLY…

So, the ACTIONS I am going to take in the next 90 days are:


I’m still not sure HOW I will do this but I have asked my team to help me make this happen.

(HINT: If you want to create an amazing team, give them crazy problems to solve!)

I have a vision of responding to correspondence only a couple of times a week (AFTER it has already been filtered by my amazing team).


I admit it.

My name is Rich.

And I am addicted to Facebook.

“Welcome, Rich!” 😉

So, I will only go on Facebook for the next 90 days, with adult supervision. I need a chaperone!

(This pic is of Mrs Chambers, chaperoning the 1932 Summer Olympics team in Los Angeles.)

I have a vision of only going on Facebook a few times a week. And ONLY when a member of my team is on a call WITH me.


I am a learning leader. 

Relying on willpower alone—without regular reflection—means I can’t learn and grow.

Relying on willpower alone—without regular reflection—means I can’t extract the lessons from my struggles or replicate my successes.

And relying on willpower alone—without regular reflection—means I can’t walk my talk as a coach. 

Love. Rich

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