Psychological Self-Help

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Depending on the techniques you select to use, it may take only 15
or 20 minutes per day or many hours over a period of weeks. 
Common problems
If you lack motivation, how can you do the things recommended in
this method? Perhaps you can start with a very simple, easy method,
such as scheduling your time a little better, rewarding some desired
behavior, or daydreaming about the future. 
Other complex factors are intertwined with motivation--values,
emotions, skills, expectations, self-esteem, irrational thoughts,
unconscious motives and so on. Simple approaches may not work. 
Effectiveness, advantages and dangers
Relatively little is known about motivating ourselves. McClelland
and Steele (1972) suggest most of the above steps but much of this
research by McClelland lacks control groups and focuses primarily on
developing entrepreneurs in foreign countries. That is a far cry from
helping a person who doesn't know where she is going or doesn't do
his home work. McCombs & Pope (1994), McHolland & McInnis (n. d.),
Alschuler (1973), and de Charms (1976) have, however, raised the
academic motivation of students. 
This method gets at the crux of the matter, in my opinion. That is
why chapter 4 deals with motivation so much. With enough motivation
you could produce almost any self-improvement you wanted. I suspect
the eventual key to having "will power" lies in our philosophy of life,
our dreams about the future, and our willingness to take responsibility
for our lives. 
There may be some dangers associated with "trying too hard." You
may give up prematurely because it seems too difficult to make
changes or achieve the goals you have set. It may also hurt more if
you fail after trying very hard to succeed. 
Brim (1992) has a neat book about managing ambition: how we
handle our drive for success or mastery, how we adjust our goals to fit
our ability, how we find satisfaction in doing what we can. He tells a
delightful story of his father's retirement to a hillside farm. In his
sixties, he trimmed trees and cut grass all over the mountain side. He
had a garden everyone talked about. In his seventies, he tended only
closer to the house, focusing on the lawn and garden which still
supplied the neighbors. In his eighties, he cut less grass and had a
small productive garden. In his nineties, he hired a neighbor to mow
the lawn and he only had a few tomatoes in his garden. In his last few
years, he still stood or sat near his flower boxes and tended them
lovingly. My father did the same thing. We all adjust our goals to fit
the ability we believe we have. But coping with success and failure is a
complex process; it may help to know how others managed their lives. 
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