Self-Efficacy and The Art of Doing Things

by A Manly Guest Contributor on July 16, 2013 · 26 comments

in A Man's Life, Personal Development


The High Level Bridge

Editor’s Note: This a guest post from Ian Walker.

A Thing I Didn’t Do

In Lethbridge, Alberta, where I went to university and lived for five years, there is a very large, very long, and very high train bridge. It stretches across a giant valley that has been carved away by the Oldman River. It’s a beautiful area in the heart of the city. The river is surrounded by rolling hills, and the university sits atop them like a boat carried by the waves of the sea. The valley is so deep and just wide enough, that were a train to go down into it, even gradually, it would never come back out. So in an effort to prevent trains from being swallowed in the belly of Lethbridge, early workers built the bridge across the valley. Trains don’t have to dip or climb: they just go straight across. Over 300 feet tall and 1.6 kilometers long (just under one mile), the High Level Bridge, as it’s called, is the largest of its kind. It was completed in 1909 by manly men who probably all had moustaches or beards, wore suspenders or flannel suits, didn’t have safety equipment, and had never driven a car. And I don’t understand how they did it. The bridge has always fascinated me. And from all angles – from the highways on both sides, underneath it, and even on top of it; whenever I really look at it, I’m in awe. It’s the symbol of the city and its main attraction. People have their picture taken by it, it’s on postcards, and a Google image search of “Lethbridge” fills the screen with mostly pictures of the bridge. It is Lethbridge, and in a sense, my whole experience living there revolved around the bridge.

Early on in my time in Lethbridge, I mentioned in conversation how fascinated I was by the bridge and how I would love to know how it was built. The person I was talking with happened to have recently visited the local museum, where a video is regularly shown that documents the construction of the bridge. Perfect. I was talking to the right person at the right time and my problem was solved. A gift from the universe. But I spit in the universe’s face. Despite my deep interest in the topic, the proximity of the museum, the low admission fee, my flexible student schedule, and the fact that the experience would provide me exactly what I was looking for, I never went. The whole time I lived there, I never went.

I’ve thought about this many times. Why didn’t I ever go? Why wouldn’t I do something so easy – something I wanted to do?

Theory of Doing Things

Bored out of his mind in Mundare, Alberta (population 855), Albert Bandura decided to grow up to become a world-famous psychologist. And what Albert Bandura decides to do, Albert Bandura does. Now among the most cited psychologists, and clearly a doer of things, Bandura is the authority on getting things done. His Social Cognitive Theory revolves around the concept of self-efficacy. According to Bandura, self-efficacy is, “the belief in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations.” In other words, self-efficacy is your belief in your own ability to do the things you want to do.

People with high levels of self-efficacy:

  • See problems as challenges to overcome, or tasks to be mastered. Even completing small tasks is a source of satisfaction.
  • Develop deep interests and are active participants in various activities. Interests grow and develop and the world seems big.
  • Form a strong sense of commitment to their interests. They don’t go half-way, or start projects and give up quickly.
  • Recover quickly from setbacks and disappointments.

Whereas people with low levels of self-efficacy:

  • Avoid challenges (or inconveniences) – big or small (or even very small).
  • Believe difficult things are beyond their abilities. They see other people doing things and assume the position of observer, not participant.
  • Focus on their personal failings. They don’t give themselves credit.
  • Lose confidence easily and quickly, giving up on new things when they’re difficult, uncomfortable, or just different.

I believe the answer to why I didn’t do an easy, and probably enjoyable, thing, lies in this concept of self-efficacy.

But what about doing hard things?

A Thing I Did

The bed was a little wider than my body and not quite as long. It sunk in the middle so it was more like a hammock or a trampoline than a bed. And the blanket was thick and stiff, suspended over the bed like a tarp on a canoe. I had been cold and lost and alone, but found my way to my room to regroup and recuperate. The room smelled like sulfur and I didn’t know what time it was. I didn’t know what time I arrived in Iceland, but found that it was earlier than stores opened. With no coat, no watch, no friends, no map, and no way to get any of those things, finding my room was a victory. Being alone in a strange place hit me hard, so I crumpled myself into my little nook and went to sleep. The nap was a success, and I soon turned things around and had a wonderful three days by myself in Iceland.

I had always wanted to go to Iceland. So I went. I spent three days alone there, finding my way around, doing activities, learning some of the culture, navigating the lunar landscape (a tour I went on informed me that NASA took their astronauts to Iceland to get a feel for what it would be like on the moon), getting goods and services without knowing the language, adjusting to the time change and the never-setting sun, exploring and going on excursions, and overcoming low spirits to relax and enjoy. By all accounts, doing all that was much harder than driving down the street to go to a museum. Both were things I wanted to do; I did the hard one and never got around to the easy one. Why? It would be easy to say that going to Iceland is more interesting than going to the museum in Lethbridge, but I believe my fascination with that bridge was equal to my desire to see Iceland. Self-efficacy can provide some answers.

Bandura’s Theory of Doing Things, Again

According to Bandura, self-efficacy is deep-rooted. It develops in four main ways:

  • Social modeling. Seeing other people succeed raises our belief that we too can succeed. This is especially true when the person is within our sphere of influence. We may think things like, “If that regular schmo can do it, I can too.” But it can also go the other way: “If that awesome dude can’t do it, why should I be able to?”
  • Social persuasion. Encouragement from others makes it easier to do things, and discouragement makes it harder. This can be obvious or subtle. Not getting the encouragement we’re hoping for, even with no direct discouragement, can severely weaken our ability to do things. This shows how fragile self-efficacy can be when not tended to.
  • Mastery experiences. Bandura says this is the most effective way to develop self-efficacy. Succeeding makes further success easier to attain. But it almost seems stronger going the other way. One failure, no matter how minor, can be a huge blow. Again, self-efficacy is a fragile thing when left on its own.
  • Psychological responses. Our moods, feelings, physical reactions, stress levels, and other states of mind can affect our levels of self-efficacy. But Bandura notes, “It is not the sheer intensity of emotional and physical reactions that is important, but rather how they are perceived and interpreted.” We can take charge by being aware of them and how they affect our self-efficacy.

But why didn’t I go to the museum?

I mentioned above that people with high levels of self-efficacy have deep interests, form deep commitments, recover quickly from setbacks, and take satisfaction from completing tasks and overcoming challenges. People with low levels lose interest and give up easily, remain uninvolved, focus on their failings, and avoid challenges and tasks. So according to that definition, I have both high levels and low levels of self-efficacy: I make deep commitments, have deep interests, and overcome challenges, but also give up easily, and avoid tasks.

My own experience tells me that we can have different levels of self-efficacy in different areas, or for different types of tasks. It seems that I have higher self-efficacy in doing more involved things, and low self-efficacy when it comes to smaller tasks. We could categorize tasks in many ways: big, small, medium, long-term, short-term, involved, straightforward, complex, simple, and so on. And I believe if we plotted our levels of self-efficacy on a graph, with self-efficacy on the vertical axis and categories of tasks on the horizontal axis, and connected the dots, most people would have a mountain range. It would be really high in some areas, really low in others, and everything in between. But just as seeing ourselves succeed makes further success more likely, looking at our high levels in one area makes it easier to increase those levels in another. Remembering that I can do big things makes it easier to do small things. And if it’s the other way for you – small tasks are easier but you avoid big things – remember that big things are just a lot of small things piled on top of each other.

So how do we increase our levels of self-efficacy?

The first step is to know yourself. What types of tasks give you difficulty? No one finds everything difficult, but everyone probably struggles with something. Examine your life. Think small for now. Imagine yourself going through a normal day. What do you put off for later? What do you get done right away? Here’s an example from my own life. A typical Ian day:

The alarm goes off at 7:00 AM, and I hit the snooze button and get up at 7:10, or sometimes I hit it again and get up at 7:20. If I get up at 7:20 I have to skip breakfast and pick something up at the cafeteria on my way to my office at the college. This late riser’s breakfast is usually a giant muffin and 2% milk. The muffin is delicious but too sweet and it usually gives me the jitters, and by lunchtime I don’t feel like eating. It’s safe to say two snoozes is too many.

I head to the shower where I use a giant bottle of shampoo I bought from the dollar store. I didn’t know there’s a difference between shampoos, because I am a man. Now I know there is a difference. The one I use seems to be made of barely more than water, and I guess my hair feels a bit cleaner after using it. I should replace it.

I only shave on days my beard feels itchy, even though I don’t look good after two or three days.

I get dressed and if there’s time, eat breakfast. If I can get up at 7:00, I have time for eggs and toast. But I don’t usually. So it’s just toast. Not bad, but the protein from the eggs makes me feel virile and supercharged, and I miss it when I don’t have it.

I drive to work in my car with the burnt out signal light and overused oil and park far from the office because I enjoy the walk. I get to my office and sign on to work email, which is usually empty, and personal email, which is usually full. I keep my phone on my desk and respond to texts and emails as they arrive. I have intermittent periods of focus throughout the day. I wonder if I have Attention Deficit Disorder, or if I’m just a modern human. The project I’m working on at work is very interesting, and I have innovative and exciting ideas about it, but only manage to focus on it in short spurts. When a thought comes to mind, I act on it – no matter how unimportant or unrelated it is. The internet on my computer is very fast, and I can find answers to my stupid questions very quickly. Is Channing Tatum in both G.I. Joe movies? BAM! Imdb. I wonder how some people rack up so many frequent flyer miles. BAM! Travel blogs everywhere. Did Stephanie Meyer think of the idea for The Host before or after Twilight? BAM! Um…I don’t know where I’d find that one. I’ve never actually wondered that, but you get the idea. Each of these detours lead to more and sometimes I’ll go for a while before realizing I’m off-track. Then I’ll get back on track, get on a roll, and make major progress on my project. And then it happens again. Whenever possible I do my work off of the computer to avoid this problem.

I come home for lunch because I enjoy seeing my family, and the food there is freer and healthier than what I’d get at work.

After work I make a list of things I want to get done that evening. An old note in front of me now has two tasks related to the business I’m starting, and one administrative task. I did the two business related ones, and still haven’t done the other.

I spend time with my family. Now that the weather is nice, we try to do something outside and avoid watching tv or movies. We’ve gone on picnics, walks, played at the park, threw the ball for the dog, and other things. My family is the most important part of my life, and I make it a priority to spend time with them, even when I have other things to do.

We read before bed because we both enjoy it. We do it even when we get too bed late.

My Self-Efficacy Strengths and Weaknesses


I’ll start here because the weaknesses are more obvious.

  • I’m good at working on big things and things that have long-term impact. This includes the project at work.
  • When I set priorities, I stick with them. Time with my family is non-negotiable. I think reading is one of the better ways to use time, so I make sure to do it regularly. I’m conscious of my health. That doesn’t mean I always make the right choice, but choosing to eat at home is a good choice that I make regularly.


  • I’m bad at small things.
  • I snooze.
  • I use gross shampoo.
  • I sacrifice a good breakfast.
  • I shave as little as possible.
  • I ignore problems with the car because I can’t be bothered to take the time to do the minor repairs.
  • I get easily distracted at work.
  • I only do items on my list that will bring long-term benefits.
  • And so on.

It’s a bit humbling to look at how much I suck. But it’s a good start to figuring out how to suck less.

I encourage you to do the same exercise. Think about your day, and print off this page and fill in these blanks (or write your answers on another piece of paper at least – but actually do it, fellow Manly Doer of Things).



List 5 things you got done today.







List 5 things you should have done today, but didn’t do.






The weaknesses should be easier to spot. But focus on your strengths. When you understand your strengths – the areas where your self-efficacy is high – you can understand how to improve your weaknesses. Let’s look at me again.

I’m good at doing long-term or complex things, and avoid doing smaller and simpler things. It’s much easier to buy a bottle of shampoo than it is to build a business. It might be easy to say I’m more excited about building a business than I am about getting shampoo. And that might be true. But when I do finally get around to replacing the shampoo, I’ll feel very satisfied and look forward to using it. Completing any task always brings some level of satisfaction. Often the satisfaction level is the same from completing small tasks as it is from completing big ones. But I avoid the smaller tasks.

When I look closely, I see how little this makes sense. Any long-term, big, complex, complicated, multi-faceted, in-depth task is just a bunch of small tasks in a row. And there are no exceptions. Completing each of these small tasks is no more satisfying than buying a new bottle of shampoo. Even just keeping that in mind helps make any type of small task more manageable.

Or we could look at it the other way around.

If I’m motivated by long-term benefits, it helps to realize that each small task has a long term benefit. And again, there are no exceptions. They may not be earth-changing benefits, but they are benefits. Fixing my car will save me money on more serious repairs later. New shampoo will keep my hair healthier, because there’s no way the slime I use now does it any good. Getting up one snooze earlier means better breakfast and better health.

But maybe your self-assessment had the opposite results.

Maybe you’re good at getting every item on your list done, but you have big dreams, goals, plans, or tasks that you don’t bother with.

I think you already know what to do. But to illustrate, here’s a story. Anne Lamott relates the story behind the title of her guide to writing, Bird by Bird:

“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our  family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen  table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper  and pencils and unopened books on birds,  immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.’”

Remember, big tasks are just a bunch of little tasks piled on top of each other. Use what you know about getting small things done. Start small, and take it task by task.

Understanding is a giant step to overcoming. Thinking like Bad-Ass Bandura (as his friends probably called him) — consciously tending to your self-efficacy and realizing it is a driving force behind your actions or inactions — will open up your whole life and jump-start your progress as a man. Few things are manlier or more satisfying than doing exactly what you set out to do.


Ian Walker is a normal guy with a good life who wants to enjoy it even more. He writes on his site, “Doing Things” ( a place for people who want to do things but haven’t done them, or who have done things and learned what it takes to do them. Stop by and say hello.


{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lucas L July 16, 2013 at 6:39 pm

This article really got me to notice my weaknesses. Looks like its time to fix ‘em; one step at a time. Thanks AoM.

2 Mr. Sable July 16, 2013 at 8:14 pm

Wow. You are both in my head and an inspiration!!

Oh, and: Go to the museum.

3 James Abel July 16, 2013 at 9:05 pm

My goodness, this article was ever so timely. Good job in selecting this subject. Extremely helpful for me this very second.

4 Steve July 16, 2013 at 9:05 pm

Well put. I would like to add something about the use of deadlines. For example, the reason why I haven’t yet written that damned novel is because no one has offered to pay for one if I will just get it done by a certain date. On the other hand, I get sermons written weekly even if I don’t feel like it because I have a deadline certain and have accepted payment to do so. I’d love to hear from other guys about the role of self-motivation versus the role of external commitments.

5 Ian R. July 16, 2013 at 9:14 pm

After reading this article, I have come to the conclusion that the author does in fact suffer from Adult Attention Deficit Disorder (AADD). Most of the behaviors the author lists as strengths and weaknesses resonate with the symptoms of AADD.

I too went through life wondering why I am motivated to do some tasks while being seemingly unable to accomplish other tasks. After countless screw-ups (missing flights, over sleeping, and so on) I decided to investigate disorders that related to attention. What I learned is that AADD does not mean someone is deficient in the attention department, but how one’s attention is focused is affected. For example, I am motivated to complete large, complex projects because I tend to get extremely involved and hyper-focused. On the other-hand, I forget or ignore smaller tasks that could have a larger impact on my life later down the road (failing to go to the dentist regularly for example).

After learning that I suffer from AADD, my life has made more sense and I am more capable of identifying certain behaviors as manifestations of the disorder. By knowing why I behave differently given various tasks has helped me accomplish more in my life and reach a level of happiness previously unobtainable.

I emplore the author to look into AADD and check it out for himself. And aside from my assessment of the authors behavioral patterns, I think the ideas for prioritizing and breaking down tasks provides great insight into improving self-efficacy.

6 Bill Bergen July 16, 2013 at 9:21 pm

Great article and rather timely for me as I’m working on improving some of the areas that I’m weak on. Also, I lived in Lethbridge for one year and I’ve been to the Galt Museum in Lethbridge and have seen the video of how the bridge was built. It’s impressive and worth checking out.

7 Alberto July 17, 2013 at 2:01 am

I think self-efficacy is fundamental for your own career as a student

8 bobster July 17, 2013 at 7:23 am

>I have generally high self-efficacy. My weakness is in over-committing. Just because I CAN do anything doesn’t mean I SHOULD do everything. The simple answer is morning priority-setting on a daily basis, looking at both the short-term and long-term when setting the order of the day.

>as to AADD, while this can be a disorder in some cases, in most men it is a lack of formation of one’s focus. Like any other habit, managing your focus CAN be learned. It just takes practice; don’t expect it to happen overnight.

Being inventive and creative myself, I know what it is like for the imagination to wander all over the lot and get easily distracted. But I’ve learned that there is a time and place for that, and there is a time for getting stuff done. The wise mind understands this and can manage BOTH, and eventually INTEGRATE them.

One image I keep in mind is the game of basketball. There are many rules and boundaries, but also wild creativity. Without the former, the latter would be meaningless. And without the latter, the former would be boring. They give each other meaning and value.

thanks for the article

9 bobster July 17, 2013 at 7:42 am

One more thought – “Whenever possible I do my work off of the computer to avoid this problem.”

This is the single biggest take-away for the modern young man.
The guys on that railroad trestle weren’t updating their facebook status every 10 minutes. They had focus and were building something that endured.

10 Paul Cuenin July 17, 2013 at 8:02 am

Great article really enjoyed it. I feel like focusing on long term goal is worth more over time. I think your priorities are fine other then not eating eggs. The challenge I find is I see CEOs and business owners that are super effective but I struggle to see common people that way. I wonder if it causal or correlation.

11 J. Green July 17, 2013 at 9:01 am

Love the article it really gets me motivated to start doing some of the little things I put off. I would add something to the article that comes from my analysis background but it incredibly helpful for lists like the one you made. It is called SWOT.

Strength: which is internal and positive characteristic of that which are analyzing.

Weakness: the other internal but negative characteristic of the object.

Opportunity: An external goal or attribute which the object you are analyzing can obtain.

Threat: An external problem which might make it hard or impossible for accomplishing something.

When analyzing something you have to look at the characteristics which the subject of your analysis has. This is where most people stop. The idea that understanding the subject’s characteristics is enough is a pitfall which leads many to frustration. Observing the environment surrounding the subject of your analysis is as critical to understanding its ability as understanding the object itself.

I like to separate the internal and the external in my analysis as an exercise to understand what characteristics are truly mine to control and which could be a result of the situation I am in. It gives me a better understanding of where my problems lie and what method I can take to correct them.

12 Ian Walker July 17, 2013 at 9:19 am

Thanks for the comments everyone! I’m honored to be featured on AoM. I appreciate the feedback.

13 Matt B. July 17, 2013 at 9:57 am

Ian, great article dude! You have described me almost to a T. I have wondered if I have some form of ADD as well for the same reasons. I have even gotten so down on myself for not getting things done that I became depressed. This post encourages me in that I’m not totally alone in feeling like I suck. I will definitely have to check out your website. I wish there was some stuff on how to live a simple life in this crazy technological time we live in. But then again, maybe there is and I’m just too lazy to actually look and find it. Cheers.

14 Lindsey Hinkle July 17, 2013 at 11:03 am

First of all, I don’t remember how I stumbled across AoM some years ago, but even as a member of the fairer sex, I am always impressed by the content! Keep it up!

I devoured this article. And just hearing the rundown of a typical “Ian day” made me feel a little more normal. As a 30-something mother and wife who tries to get up on time and stay on top of things and focus at work and start a business on the side as well, it can be so easy to get overwhelmed by the mountain of “little things.” I know the big picture here is about knowing your strengths/weakness and doing anyway, but this was a welcome reminder that small tasks do add up to big accomplishments and vice versa. I also know the nagging feeling of not completing a small task that you actually wanted to do, only to be left to wonder why it wasn’t a priority. Thank you for this insightful read!

15 Matthew July 17, 2013 at 12:49 pm

I’ve been struggling with getting up earlier and being more focused lately in my quest to improve since discovering AoM. This article couldn’t have come at a better time. Great work, Ian!

16 Allan_S July 17, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Excellent! I add my voice of validation to the writer’s well articulated experience.

I can only agree with other commenters’ assessment of ADD, which is not a monolithic label, but a common variation (perhaps 10% or more of the general population world-wide) of brain function and learning style with a spectrum of impairment from very mild to severely disruptive to one’s personal development.

At 76 years old, I’ve seen this struggle personally, in one of my children, my wife and some of my closest and favorite extended family. Certainly, there is some amount of genetic transmission for this. A few are/were highly successful in their lives and one or two never quite got it together into a healthy lifestyle.

This is an invisible and often painful struggle in life [there are many kinds of crosses people bear], which education and mutual validation about it with others can ease.

Growing in self-acceptance, faith, resilience and such thoughtful approaches as the writer and other commenters have described, offers genuine hope and encouragement in the quest for personal self-fulfillment as a person, parent, spouse and creative contributor to a better world.

I’ve traveled this path and am most grateful for the social and Divine forces that still help me learn and remain on the path to follow.

Thank you for your enlightening article.

17 J July 17, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Great article

We’re definitely weakened by the short-attention-time-span that the digital age helps facilitate by it’s constant interruptions on our daily life.

For me, I have found writing stuff down, the classic ‘to do list’ really helps. Gets me annoyed when something is overdue and staring me in the face on that infuriating little notebook, but most times, forces me to complete the job! And you’re right, completing small, almost insignificant tasks does make you feel surprisingly good, I don’t know why.

But I have to be honest, my heart sunk a little when some of the commenters here immediately started labeling the author of this post as having some sort of ‘condition’ or ‘disorder’.

Everything is labelled as a condition too quickly now, the problem with that is that it shifts the focus onto something which is outside of our control because we have a ‘condition’.

The author is simply stating there are unpleasant or boring but important things he finds ways to avoid doing. We all do that. If they were fun we would do them. This is not some sort of ‘condition’ any more than feeling a bit sad or listless means someone is ‘depressed’ or a lively kid needs medication or ritalin for ‘attention deficit disorder’ – I really hate the way Western society is going in trying to label everything as a medical condition which can be medicated away with the right pill, or, requires no change or responsibility from the ‘sufferer’ of this new condition because in some way it’s effectively not our fault, it’s the ‘condition’s’ fault.

18 Victor July 17, 2013 at 1:48 pm

Self efficacy is my biggest problem right now.

I haven’t done the exercise yet.

However my case seems to be the opposite of you. I’m much better at doing small tasks and terrible at doing large complex tasks. When I propose to myself a project I see how big and difficult it will be and how much I am under skilled for it and never begin, or if I do begin I stop shortly after.

I thought it was interesting. I will try your exercise now, but the list of weaknesses will be excessive.

Thanks for writing this article!

19 Ian Walker July 17, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Thanks for your comments everyone. I guess I made a mistake of mentioning ADD in the article. I didn’t mean for it to be taken seriously, but since I’ve been diagnosed here a few times already, I thought I should clear it up. I probably painted myself as more distracted than I really am. I was hoping readers would relate to the pesky distractions that the modern age brings. I really think they touch everyone to some degree – and sometimes they’re peskier than other times. It might also help to know that my current job is not very challenging – I don’t have nearly enough work to occupy my time.

I don’t have ADD – not that there would be anything wrong with that (I wouldn’t be embarrassed to admit it if I did have it). I just don’t want people to read this and think, “This guy has ADD and I don’t, so this doesn’t really apply to me.” I was hoping to show that these kinds of distractions and our tendency to put off doing things can be overcome by understanding the problem and addressing it with hard work. But I genuinely do appreciate the comments and concern. I just hope the ADD thing doesn’t distract from the point I was trying to make.

20 Corey July 19, 2013 at 9:37 am

Good article, Ian. There are definitely things that I’m good at getting done and things that I put off. I think, like you said, that’s typical for everybody in the world. I do think the list of your weaknesses was a bit harsh. I usually hit the snooze button in the morning and I can still get stuff done, so I don’t think that’s a problem. I don’t think that using cheaper shampoo is a failure, either. Some of the name-brand, “better-for-your-hair” shampoo is ridiculously priced, or I won’t buy it because I don’t support the company that makes it.

21 TJ July 20, 2013 at 1:32 pm

Love it. As for AADD Ian R., I’m not a scientist, and I don’t suffer from this condition (that I know of). So, my comment may seem invalid but can’t this condition just be mastered through self-therapy (i.e. writing, making action plans to stay on task, etc.) My papa always said, “We had a cure for ADD. It involved a belt.” I’m not saying physical punishment is the ticket, but sometimes we do need to give ourselves a kick in the pants to stay on task. Again, I’m not a Dr. or person of this condition, but just wanted to throw my hat in the ring.

22 Kenneth Lange July 21, 2013 at 1:47 pm

Good post, Ian! One of the most important things I’ve learned about the art of doing things is that setting a goal is pretty easy; the tough part is follow-up on yourself to ensure that the goal is actually completed.

Or as the eloquent General Patton said, “Commanders must remember that the issuance of an order, or the devising of a plan, is only about five percent of the responsibility of command. The other ninety-five percent is to insure, by personal observation, or through the interposing of staff officers, that the order is carried out.”

23 Rob July 21, 2013 at 9:24 pm

Those of you with particular interest in this topic may care to follow up by reading about Carol Dweck’s fixed and growth mindsets. “Fixed” implies you don’t truly believe you can learn and grow. “Growth” suggests you don’t take setbacks personally, but get something from an experience even if it is not a success, per se. The good news is that even hearing about this distinction can be helpful. Look around and you’ll find endless examples. It’s ancient advice in yet newer clothes. My personal version of it goes something like “Get out of your own %$#@ way!”

24 Branden July 24, 2013 at 7:20 am

Great article. Thank you. I keep hitting the ¨social persuasion” roadblock. I began working on becoming a better person back in May, and only one friend has been supportive. My wife, friends, and co-workers tell me I´m already good at what I do and it´s stupid to change, or I´m beating myself up over nothing, but they´re wrong. I have major weaknesses I must overcome, and I find myself falling back into bad habits. It´s a constant uphill battle to better myself, made harder with little support.

25 Chris July 25, 2013 at 2:08 pm
26 aa August 24, 2013 at 11:59 am

Enjoyed it; thanks for sharing the Bandura’s theory and relating to daily life.

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