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21 days from now your life can be different. It's true that it takes longer to form some habits, up to 60 days, and that it takes a shorter period of time to form other habits. But most researchers have accepted many changes can be made in just three weeks.

How will this work? It's pretty simple. You'll set goals and write them down. You will write about your experience each day. You report to someone about how your day went.

The important part of your challenge is the doing it. For each day of the 21 days . . .

1. You will set a goal.

Each day you’ll write it down. This way you'll know how you're doing and you can make adjustments.

2. You will either achieve that goal or fail.

This is a simple two-part process. You will write one or two sentences about what you learned. You will follow that with one or two sentences about how it felt. That's it. Simple. The only key is actually doing it.

3. You will journal for 1 minute about your day.

We all like to talk a lot about success but we don't like to mention failure much. But the fact of the matter is that failure is part of success. But you'll never know any of this if you don't evaluate.

Each day post your progres to your facebook page. Talk about what you did, what you learned and how it made you feel. Start right now with a post that lays the challenge you have accepted.

4. You will report to your ally how your day went.

Each day, by phone, text, Facebook message, e-mail, instant message, or however else you want, you report to your pre-chosen ally about how you did. This is an incredibly powerful concept. Knowing that there is someone else who will cheer you on or sharing your defeat is a big deal.

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Preperation

If you're going to accomplish your goals there are few things you're gonna need to do to get ready. Think. Feel. Do.

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Feel

Get motivated

Motivation is often that extra something that really gets things done. If you're going to make change stick for long-term, you are going to have to figure out what your long-term motivations are. And they are different for everyone. Take the following steps to figure out what motivates you.

Talk about your goals to get motivated - Most people think out loud better than in their head. Talk to people about your goals and get inspired by what you hear yourself saying.

Make an outcome list - An outcome list goes like this, “If I develop this new habit, here’s what will happen, if I don’t here’s what will happen.” You need to realize that not doing something has consequences just like doing something does. Figure out what those are and it will motivate you.

Start with something exciting - If you want to start an exercise program, start with bike riding or swimming instead of running. Play racquetball instead of hitting the exercycle. Play Basketball daily instead of lifting weights. If the first mountain you intend to climb is Everest, you might give up.

Energy - You’ll need energy, so figure out what gives you energy and do more of that. Figure out what saps your energy and do less of that. If hanging out with friends revitalizes you, make sure you have consistent social time. If watching TV leaves you listless, limit you TV watching to only the shows you really want to watch instead of just killing time.

Break down big goals into smaller goals - Every piece of software ever written is one line of code at a time. Every interstate highway is paved one inch at a time.

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Think

Come on get happy – Focus on your long term goals

One of the great paradoxes of life is the fact that if you do what makes you feel good in the short term it often leads to unhappiness in the long-term. Not always of course, but a lot of times you find that making decisions that will make you happy in the long run don't feel real good right now, or at least they aren't the easiest decision to make. Eating whatever you want right now may be the easiest thing to do but the long-term health consequences aren’t fun to deal with. Buying whatever I feel like buying right now may make me feel good temporarily but that feeling quickly wears off and long-term it's replaced by a lack of savings are even worse – debt.

Here are things many researchers have found most happy people have in common.

Work: This may come as a shock to you that work is an essential ingredient of happiness. You need something to do.

Meaningful relationships: We are a social animal. Be the kind of friend you want to have. Don't be possessive, jealous, easily offended, etc. and you'll find out that your friendships just work.

Health: Healthy people are happier than people who are not healthy. Get active. Eat a reasonable diet. Take care of yourself. You don't have to be extreme. But you can't pretend that you can do whatever you want and not see the consequences.

Perspective: Happy people have reasonable expectations. They don't think everyone's out to get them. Not everyone can get all A's. No one needs to get all F’s. Get real.

Activity and openness: People who are open to new things, willing to stretch themselves and to go after new opportunities and new experiences tend to be happier than those who play it safe.

Creativity: Most people think that being creative is something you're born with and to a certain extent it's true. But you can flex your muscles of creativity in activities like problem solving. Everyone is somewhat creative. Maximize your creativity.

Prosocial behavior: in almost every study on happiness prosocial behavior comes out as a key factor in making people happy. Helping someone who is less fortunate than you, or who just need your help in some way, will lead to temporary feelings of warmth and will permanently contribute to long-term happiness.

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Do

Write it down

Business writers have written for a long time about a legendary study at Harvard University showing that 3% of Harvard business school graduates make more than the other 97%. As the story goes the only difference is that those 3% wrote down their life goals.

There's some question as to whether that actually ever happened, but it does lead us to an interesting question: why is it important to write down your goals?

Concrete versus abstract – The tactile act of writing something down and then seeing it on paper forces you to be clear about what exactly it is you're talking about when it comes to your goals. That's a big deal.

Positive versus negative –It's important when writing down your goals to use proactive words. Don't talk about what you don't want to be, essentially reacting to your own behavior, talk about what you do want to be.

Detailed versus general – write down your goals in detail. Get specific about exactly what you're trying to accomplish. It's pretty hard to hit the bull's-eye if there is no target.

Draft versus final – once you've gone through the process, rewrite your goals. Most people don't sit down to play concerto for the first time and get it perfect. You probably won't either. Take a little time. Re-think. Re-craft. Re-write.

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Progress

Through Process

Most problems are accessed in these three ways. This essential process in personal change is so simple. Feel. Think. Do.

Think about the results of what you do.

Feel your emotions as a reaction to what you do and what is done to you.

Do something about it. Start small if you have to – really it's recommended that you start small Your small start may even seem ridiculous later looking back on it, but doing something, however small, is the key to the beginning process. Even if you're 21 days start tomorrow, do something today. Seriously, put down this guide right now and do something to get started. Here we go…

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Essentials

In any process, there are things you need to know that will make the whole process easier and up the chances of success. Like keys that unlock a door, knowing what will bring success makes life easier. You could just knock down the door with an axe or chainsaw, but finding the key makes all the difference in the world.

The keys found here will change everything about changing. If these pieces are missing, it will your make chances of conquering your habits much, much tougher.

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Gather The Team

Find an Ally

You need an ally. You need someone who will stand with you in your fight. Look for someone who's positive. Look for someone who is willing. But for someone who cares about you. Ask your ally if they be willing to do three things: (1) receive the daily report of your progress, (2) encourage you on a regular basis, and (3) tell you the truth when you're missing something. If you don't already have their contact information, get their Facebook name, their phone number or e-mail address and any other good way to report them. Each day, in one sentence, you will tell them how your day went with regard to your goal.

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Gather The Team

Assess the Hurdles

It’s true that you might never be able to compete in the 110 meter hurdle event in the Olympics, but you can clear hurdles under certain circumstances even if you are only 5 feet tall. How? Many ways come to mind, but one might be getting a ladder. Getting help over the hurdle from someone else might work too. You see the problem isn’t the height of the hurdle, it’s your mindset that you have to clear hurdles just like you’ve seen it done before. Sure, the rules of competition events won’t allow you to get assistance from a back-mounted jet pack, but you aren’t trying to advance to the quarter finals in hurdles, you’re just trying to get over the obstacle in your way. Resources, help from others and new ways of thinking are essential to overcoming obstacles. Think about what stands in your way to achieving your goals and then think about the various ways to get over the obstacle. You don’t have to look good doing it.

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Gather The Team

Find Your Yoda

Everyone needs a Mentor if they are going to learn new life patterns. For many, a parent, aunt, uncle or grandparent are mentors we can trust. Many find that a teacher or guidance counselor can be a mentor. Many find that their pastor, rabbi, priest or other spiritual leaders can be an important place of mentorship.
These are natural relationships, but many people are looking in the wrong place for a mentor. Here’s why: if you trying to learn plumbing, a chemist might not be your best mentor for that task. Chemists are typically really smart people, but usually aren’t great plumbers.
Ask yourself these questions when looking for a short-term mentor:

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Know Thyself

Own Your Mess

The key is accepting who you are right now as a starting point for change. And despite all of the “You are a human being, not a human doing” nonsense that goes around, the fact remains that your actions, not your intensions define who you are.

Wanting to be better doesn’t make you a good person. Overlooking your short comings isn’t the same as accepting them. You need to own your mess, then deal with it. And remember, accepting that you are a mess and that you need to change is a liberating experience. Be free. Be a mess.

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Know Thyself

Tell Yourself The Truth

It’s been said that there’s no insult like the truth and we all hate to be victims of verbal discourtesy. And the wounds inflicted by someone close to us hurt more intensely than from a stranger. The hardest criticism to take is when it’s leveled by our own observation of the facts of our lives.

So we lie. We make excuses. We give ourselves the benefit of the doubt. We stretch reality to match circumstances. We try to deceive ourselves. We tell ourselves the lies we wish were true. But they aren’t. And the truth can sometimes be easier to swallow than the lies we tell. Telling yourself the truth is a new pattern of thinking, but it is essential to becoming who you want to be. That is the truth.

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Know Thyself

Expect the Pain

You are engaging in a fight with yourself. Your nature is to stay the same but you are ready to go 21 rounds with yourself in the ring of change. You can only really count on one thing: pain. Change hurts. If you are quitting your bad eating habits, hunger pains will be your companion until your body adjusts. If you are learning to become a better student, blurry eyes during late night study sessions and headaches could be in your future. Like stretching any muscle, some pain is to be expected. It doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong.

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Know Thyself

Grasp Your Triggers

When you decide to change, whether it’s volunteering, fighting for a cause, quitting alcohol abuse or becoming a runner, there will be things that will throw you off course if you’re not ready for them. Thinking about what those triggers will be in advance will help you recognize and resist them. If your goal is to become a musician, realizing that other things will draw you away from practice is important. If the phone breaks your concentration, turn it off. Tell yourself that you can always answer your phone after you are done. If your goal is to control your anger, recognizing that people will say things to you that you will not like is crucial to putting a mechanism in place to react differently. Plan to walk away no matter what when someone attempts to provoke you.

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Know Thyself

Get the Stress Out

Life is about balance. Most people let off stress in two ways: rest and play. Do not be fooled into thinking that those two things are the same thing, they are not. And you need both. You know, or can figure out with just a little thought what things are fun for you and what things are restful. You need both. Do both.

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Change Your Thinking

Stay on target

Focus is the ability to concentrate even though there are many distractions. You may not have the voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi in your head (and would you really want it?), but your ability to focus is essential to your progress. If it helps, repeat it to yourself, “Stay on taaarget, stay on taaaarget!” Focus is the essential component to triumph in movies and in life.

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Change Your Thinking

Be consistent: commit to 21 days and do it daily

Character is what you consistently do when no one is watching. We all make mistakes, but life patterns of consistency always lead to success in overcoming difficulty. Consistency is the main ingredient to changing you. When you follow this guide, be consistent and do not miss a day for 21 days. No excuses. No breaks. If you fail, being inconsistent will be the reason. This is about teaching yourself how to be consistent. It’s a fact that consistency leads to automation. Doing things automatically is much easier than being consistent, but you have to pay the price of perseverance.

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Change Your Thinking

Start small and think big

Set simple attainable daily goals for yourself and let those lead to other steps. Lifting 100 pounds is a lot easier if you’ve lifted 90 before. Build up to the goal you’re trying to reach and you’ll find that little by little change can happen.

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Practical Advise

Change your social network

The word “unfriend” was chosen as the Oxford dictionary as “Word of the Year” in 2009. The fact is that some people are just bad news. That may not be politically correct to say, but it is true. If your main social ties to a group or person are centered in a habit you want to kill, you may have to leave the group and unfriend that user.

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Practical Advise

Burn the Ships

In 1519, Hernandez Cortes set sail in the name of Spain to conquer the Aztec Empire. Upon landing on what is now called the Yucatán Peninsula, Cortes unloaded his small army and all the supplies from the 11 ships used for the journey. He then promptly destroyed all but one ship

When changing your patterns of behavior, if at all possible, destroy your way back to your old patterns. This could mean telling your parents about things that need to change, letting the teacher know about the areas of your life that you intend to alter or perhaps getting rid of things that help you continue your old patterns of behavior. Burn. Scuttled. Destroy. Victory is only 21 days away.

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Practical Advise

Set Reminders

Thinking you’ll remember the action steps of change is unrealistic. Fortunately, while remembering everything is difficult, setting reminders is simple--and more effective anyway.
How does it work? Here are a few simple ideas:

If you are reading this and you already know some things you want to get reminding yourself of, stop what you are doing and do it right now. Just remember to come back to this guide.

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Practical Advise

Avoid taking on more than one habit at a time

You’ve probably picked up this guide because you're motivated. Maybe now that you've read a bit you are really motivated. That's good, but too much of a good thing is not a good thing.

You can learn Latin. You can quit procrastinating. You can become more outgoing. But you probably cannot accomplish all these things at once.

Remember: stay on taaaaarget. And unless you're Robin Hood, hitting two targets at the same time probably isn't going to happen. Focus on one habit at a time, then move on.

Note: replacing one habit with another is not the same as taking on two habits at the same time. Replacing one habit with another is an effective way of accomplishing two things at once when done correctly (read the section on habit replacement), but is the only time you should take on two habits at the same time.

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Practical Advise

Don’t Quit When You Fail

Everyone fails. The difference between failures and the successful is that failures fail and then quit while the successful fail and then keep trying. It's really just that simple.

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Three Ways to Rearange

There are three rearrangement strategies you can use for change: breaking bad habits, forming new ones and combining the two using habit replacement.

Kill a Bad Habit

We all do things we know are bad for us. Unfortunately, some of them come to us automatically. But even things we do automatically can be stopped.

You can use this program to break bad habits. The fact is that most people who start doing drugs quit doing drugs. Most estimates tell us that about 50% of Americans have tried drugs at least once. Less than 10% of Americans are drug addicts. In case math isn't your favorite subject, the simple equation is this: less than 20% of the people who do drugs remain long-term drug addicts. Drugs are addictive. Drugs are difficult to quit. Many people need outside help to quit doing drugs. But, despite the difficulty, despite the physical addiction and despite the availability of illegal drugs, most people quit. This isn't to say you should try drugs, obviously, or that the warnings of the dangers of drugs aren't true – they are. Let's be clear – you should never, ever try drugs. But, if you are currently addicted to drugs, or even come from a long line of drug users, and all your friends are drug addicts – you can quit. Most people do.

It's just an example. Hopefully you are not a drug addict. But no matter what difficulty you're up against, it may be hard, but you can't kill the habit. This is doable.

You may have 1 million things going against you, but ultimately you have one thing going for you – you. You are an individual. You are not a statistic. You are a person. You are not a demographic. Many things can be said of you, but ultimately you are you and you are in the driver’s seat.

Form a New Habit

Most people struggle with discipline. That doesn't tell you that you can't form new habits. It simply tells you that it's difficult to form new habits. You've been warned. Expect it to be hard.

But if you understand what it takes to form a new life pattern and prepare yourself as discussed in this guide, you can take daily action and form new patterns of behavior. It doesn't mean that they'll be as easy as involuntary physical actions like breathing, growing hair or sweating on a hot day, but it does mean that they can become easier, almost automatic.

You see, for some people the idea of not hitting the gym on a regular basis would be a change they find difficult. Missing the aerobic class, not getting sweaty on the treadmill or not hitting the weights – well, that would just feel weird to them. It's a part of their routine. It’s part of their life. It's a habit. It's almost automatic. It's not magic that creates a new habit, it simply doing the hard work and then getting into a routine. It's a matter of getting those muscles memorizing things.

Replace a Habit

Habit replacement is an old technique. Smokers have known for years that replacing a cigarette with gum, a toothpick or even celery can really help break the habit.

The irony is that killing a bad pattern of behavior and developing a new one can sometimes be easier than just doing one or the other. It is usually a good idea when replacing a bad habit, to replace it with a new habit that is in some way similar. Time for time replacement is an example of this. Stimuli for stimuli replacement is another example.

There are all kinds of replacements that you can use and you may want to find the ones that work best for you. Thinking through your strategy and sticking to it is the key.

And one more thing: if you find that trying to do both – killing one habit and building another – is too much for you, just focus on one for 21 days. You can use another 21 days to tackle the other part. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. There's time for change. Be patient with yourself.

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21 Catalysts

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Know Thyself

Think

The maximum “know thyself” find its origins in an inscription at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. It's been attributed to Socrates as well as about a half dozen other Greek philosophers. Who knows who said it first, the real point is in the meaning. In “The Suda,” a 10th century encyclopedia of Greek knowledge, pointed out that the axiom "know thyself" is a warning not to pay attention to the opinions of others but to know who you really are.

The real question is who are you really? Listen, spending too much time contemplating your own place in the universe doesn't always lead to great places, but knowing who you are and being comfortable with that, that's the road to personal freedom. We're not talking about being complacent about the things that need to change about your life, this is about what makes you tick. Knowing that is the real key to change.

Do

Take a free test online that help you find out what you are passionate about.

HERE

There are other such tests and these aren't the end-all be-all, but they can be a tool that can help you gain some insight to why you do what you do and how to enact change.

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Stretch Yourself

Think

In medieval times a method of torture to get information out of someone who didn't want to give it up was to tie their hands and feet with ropes. Those ropes could be tied off to a horse or maybe two horses headed in opposite directions and the interrogee would find themselves in incredible pain as their body was ripped apart. The process would rip tendons and ligaments and even dislocate joints. The victim would often confess to things that didn't even exist if necessary just to make the stretching stop.

This isn't what we're talking about. But today, the idea is to do something good that makes you uncomfortable. If you're going to expand who you are, you are going to need to introduce a catalyst for that expansion process. We won't need horses and rope, but this still might hurt a little bit.

Do

Hang out with someone you wouldn't normally socialize with. Who to hang out with is your choice, but it's important that it's someone who will help you think different. It could be someone in a convalescent hospital. It could be someone with special needs. It could be that kid who always eats lunch by herself. Maybe come up with a list of questions about what that person thinks or how their life is. Some examples are:

“What’s your average day like?"

“What do you really like to do?"

“If you could change one thing about the world what would it be?"

“If people really knew you what would they know that they don't know now?"

Try some of your own. Be creative. Spend some real time on this one. You might be surprised how little stretching can really limber you up to change.

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Get Social

Think

Humans have always been social beings. We are more tribal than individual. More team than solo. Most of us live in neighborhoods. And we learn in class settings more than an independent study.

The power of going public is huge. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. didn't write I have a dream in his diary, he bellowed “I have a dream” to the masses. President John Kennedy didn't have a quiet meeting with some NASA officials to talk about going to the moon, he challenged the country that together we can do this.

Not only is there power in going social, it's never been easier than it is right now. Think about what parts of your goal you want to share, what parts are appropriate to share publicly (check with the parent or teacher if you’re not sure), and then share and share alike.

Do

There are a lot of ways to do this. You could individually text your friends. You could group message them. You could post to your blog or Facebook wall. You could mass e-mail. You could even create a Facebook like page. If you have a twitter account where people are following you, you could use that. Today, you go public.

Note: This needs to be done appropriately. Make sure your goal is stated in positive, proactive language. Euphemisms can be very helpful here. In other words, if your goal is to stop eating junk food, you might say, “I am going to eat only healthy foods that power my body and my brain in great ways. I'm looking forward to the changes you'll see in my body and my attitude.”

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Research Your Habit

Think

You can't be an expert in everything but you can be an expert in something. It's time to become an expert in your thing. The Internet, the library, talking to people who are experts -these are all ways of becoming an expert on your habit. How have other people become good at what you want to be good at? How have other people kicked the habit that you want to get rid of? You are not the first. You won't be the last. Learn what there is to learn.

Do

Start with a Google search on your habit. If you're trying to become a better student Google “Becoming a better student." Sites like cha-cha.com can be helpful. Quora.com is filled with experts on all kinds of subjects. Your Facebook friends may have a level of expertise you don't know about. Check out a book from the library on the subject that you're interested in. You can do this. But you got a know how. Check out some resources here

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Raise Funds

Think

Today, go get some money, but not for you, for someone else. Think about a cause that you're passionate about. There are organizations that are working on that cause. Maybe the local food bank or the local chapter of Special Olympics is something you want to get behind. Maybe it's something else and you don't know where to start. www.networkforgood.org is a website that features thousands of organizations you can get behind financially. www.facebook.com/causes is a great way to get the ball rolling.

Do

Raise money. Simple. Can't think of what to do? You're in luck. www.studentreach.org/ has tons of ideas. Some of them are easy. Some of them take more time. Set a goal for how much money you want to raise and don't quit until you raise that amount of money. This may take more than one day, but today, your catalyst is at least to get it started.

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Tell A Parent or Other Relative

Think

If you're teenager, you’re now thinking this is the dumbest thing you've ever heard. Okay, maybe it’s not so bad, but for some students talking to their parents about things can be difficult. You probably even worried that if you tell someone about a goal that you have and then don't achieve it, your that person might hold it over your head. Maybe you're right. But this is about change. Explain what you're doing and give your someone a chance to grow and change too. You might be surprised.

Do

Show your parent or other relative your written goal. Explain to them how the 21 days will work. Maybe they'll even join you. If it's something that’s sensitive, find a way to say it that you don't reveal everything without lying. This is a big step, but you can do it.

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Take a Media Break

Think

“What?!” you say. “I can't live without my tunes, man." “Go a whole day without updating my Facebook profile picture? I don't think so."

Yes, this may be difficult. But this catalyst could mean something real. This is about turning off the noise. This is about taking time to think. This is about unplugging. This is about enjoying something you may have forgotten – silence. This is about you being you without all of the constant unrelenting input. You may like this so much that you decide to do it on a regular basis. Unlikely? Maybe, maybe not. You won't know until you try.

Do

Turn off your cell phone. Turn off your TV. Turn off your computer. Turn off your MP3 player. Put away your magazines. Turn off the radio.

You don't think you can make it? You could replace those things. Instead of talking on your cell phone, talk to someone in person. Instead of messaging someone, write them a note and give it to them. Instead of putting little white headphones in your ears to shut the outside world out, play an instrument or listen to someone else doing the same. You are not Amish, but today you can act like you are. You will survive this.

One week check up: evaluate how you did in the first seven days with your goals. Do your goals need readjusted? Does your behavior need readjusted? Does it feel like your one third of the way there? If you don't like where you're at, talk to someone who can act as a mentor to you and ask them for help.

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Change Your Wallpaper

Think

This is a simple one. The visual cues that are in front of you all the time can be symbolic of what you're really passionate about. They say something about you. It's time for a change.

Do

Change the wallpaper on your smart phone, your computer, your tablet – whatever's in front of you all the time. You can change binder covers too. Be creative. Send the message. What are you going to change your wallpaper to? Something that means something about your goal. It could be an image; could be a list. It could be something that only means something to you. But it needs to mean something.

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Get Proactive

Think

It's time to do something on purpose. It's time to do a lot of things on purpose. Today, you're gonna do everything on purpose. What does it mean to be pro active? It means shifting out of automatic mode. It means not reacting to everything. It means realizing that no one controls you. There are rules to follow. There’s no question about that. This is about controlling what you do control – your attitude and your actions.

Do

Today, do three things that you keep thinking that you want to do, but somehow just haven't gotten around to. Step one – make a “to do” list. Step two – do things on the “to do” list. Step three – cross things off your “to do” list. Just do it. You don't even need to wear your Nikes.

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Become a Collector

Think

People collect all kinds of things. People collect rare glass, figurines, stuffed animals – all kinds of stuff. If you've ever seen one of thos hoarding shows you know how bad it can be. But for most people it's just a harmless pastime. If you are a collector of something, good for you. If you're not a collector, well, better for you. But today, you're not going to collect anything for yourself, your goal is to collect something for other people – people who don't have a collecting pastime, but people who are in need.

Do

Collect something for a specific need. You can collect cans for the local food bank. You could collect closer blankets for the homeless shelter. StudentReach (www.studentReach.org) has a project where you can collect school supplies for one of our partner schools in Nicaragua. E-mail us at studentreach@studentreach.org and we will arrange to get the school supplies where they need to go. Pens, pencils, notepads, folders, scissors - these are all examples of the kind of school supplies that are greatly needed for children who are disadvantaged. Just make sure everything is new. E-mail us if you have any questions. We'll help you.

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Think Freedom

Think

Today you're going to concentrate on freedom. While you're trying to break free from yourself, you should be reminded that there are people in actual slavery around the world. Over 25 million people in the world find themselves in slavery right now. Slavery is at an all-time high in our world. Get the facts at www.studentreach.org/

Do

Download the “Emancipation” guide. Watch for possible victims and report suspicious activity. Consider a StudentReach expedition that helps serve those who are coming out of Human Trafficking. Contact StudentReach at studentreach@studentreach.org

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Give It Away-Get in The Habit of Charity

Think

People in our country are in need like never before and relying on the government to help is an increasingly questionable strategy. Food insecurity and poverty are touching people in our society that never thought they would be the ones in need.

Do

Today, your mission is to donate to a local charity. You don’t have to have extra money. Clothing, canned food, blankets and other goods can be donated to a local food bank, clothing closet or homeless shelter. One caution, most experts say that giving money to someone on the street who asks for it is more likely to add to the problem. It may be more work to find an effective charity who can help those in need, but it’s a better idea.

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Read a Book in One Day

Think

TV, YouTube, social media, video games - all these things can be fun, but the truth is that since the invention of writing, the most important thoughts have been dispersed though the written word. It’s time to read.

Do

Read an entire book today. You can do it. It’s true that you might only be able to update your Facebook status once and TV might not get fully watched, but hey, you might just feel your life change a little bit.

Go to the StudentReach Facebook blog for a list of classics you can read in one day. HERE

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De-crapify Your Life

Think

Most of us really struggle with how much stuff we have. Have you ever been away from your worldly possessions for any length of time and thought about how you just don’t need them? How you’re happier without them? It’s time to experience freedom from the stuff that is weighing you down.

Do

Throw away, recycle, or donate 21 things you don't need today. It’s just that simple.

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Replacement Therapy

Think

The world runs on the principal of exchange. In primitive cultures, goods and services are exchanged directly. In more advanced cultures, goods and services are exchanged for money, which then can be exchanged for other goods and services, but the principal remains the same. To get something, you have to give something up.

The same is true when it comes to time. Think about the things in your life that take up your time that really aren’t very valuable. Wasting time can be a good way to unwind, but too much time wasted will keep you from the life you want. It’s time to think about your time.

Do

Find something in your life that you want to stop doing or do less of and replace it with something else. For instance, if you spend to much time on Facebook, replace that time with something else. If you spend 1 hour per day on YouTube, limit yourself to 5 minutes (you can set a timer on your phone) and read about people who have succeeded in the new life skill you want.

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Learn to Learn

Think

Most experts in education know that filling their students heads with knowledge is only part of their job. Teaching people how to learn is the lifelong goal of any educator who loves what they do. Today, we learn to learn.

Do

Figure out how you learn best. People learn in three ways and most people are better at one of those ways than others. Most people are “visual” learners (you learn by what you see), “auditory” learners (you learn through hearing) or “kinesthetic” learners (you learn by what you feel or experience). You can’t control your class work or job, but you can spend your free time learning the way you learn best. Understanding how you learn might determine whether you read a book or listen to an audio book for instance.

MIT offers a re great guide for incoming students on how to learn. There are great tests to assess how you learn on the internet. You can check them out here.

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Money Matters

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Dead Presidents, Benjamin’s, Cash, moola – money might not make the world go round, but it does matter. As an American, you are one of the richest people in the world. Check out the global rich list and you’ll understand just how rich you are (http://www.globalrichlist.com/) Keep in mind that your family income is the issue, not your spending cash.

Globalrichlist.com provides these examples of how little money can make a huge difference.

  • $8 could buy you 15 organic apples OR 25 fruit trees for farmers in Honduras to grow and sell fruit at their local market.
  • $30 could buy you an ER DVD Boxset OR a First Aid kit for a village in Haiti.
  • $73 could buy you a new mobile phone OR a new mobile health clinic to care for AIDS orphans in Uganda.
  • $2400 could buy you a second generation High Definition TV OR schooling for an entire generation of school children in an Angolan village.

Just having modern plumbing puts you in the top half of the world’s population. It’s time to figure out where your money goes.

Do

Make a list of how you spend your money and on what. There are various ways to do this. You can keep track in your smart phone by taking pictures of what you spend your money on and adding it up at the end of the day. If you’re not proud of your list, make a change.

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R.A.O.K Day

Think

An R.A.O.K. is not a creature from an online game that geeks play, it’s a Random Act Of Kindness. Today, you’re gonna do 10 of them. Good examples are feeding the parking meter for a car that has an expired one. Offer to throw away trash for a group of students who are done eating lunch or paying for the coffee for a person behind you in line at Starbucks would be great examples.

Do

Today, your mission is 10 Random Acts Of Kindness. You can go on studentreach.org for examples or to add your own.

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Kill Your Selfishness

Think

Many self-help books will tell you things like, “Be selfish,” “take care of yourself first,” or something like that because they want to be provocative or maybe the motivational guru’s really believe it, but every study on life fulfillment has shown that a healthy sense of self worth combined with and fueled by selflessness leads to the good life. On every list of what makes our lives better, the same pattern emerges – a job that makes a difference adds more to your life than a job that makes more money, being healthier adds more to your life than eating and drinking whatever you want, etc, etc.

Do

Social scientists repeatedly promote something called “proscocial behavior” as an essential part of the good life. “Proscocial behavior” is volunteerism, donation, courtesy – behavior that is selfless and helps other people.

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Tell Yourself The Truth

Think

Today, figure out what lies you tell yourself. “My mom makes me so mad” is a lie people tell themselves to remove their own responsibility for their bad reaction. “I get frustrated when my mom seems unreasonable, but my bad reaction is something I can control” is the truth.

Do

Replace the lies you tell yourself with truth replacements. Make a list with the lies on one side of the page and the truth statements on the other side.

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Ride The Feedback Loop

Think

The cover story of the July, 2011 edition of Wired Magazine was titled The Mental Machine. The article was about research into biological and emotional “feedback loops” that can affect human behavior.

A feedback loop is a simple concept: place a RADAR sign on the side of a road that reads, “Speed Limit 25 – Your speed is . . .” and it displays your speed. Most people slow down.

Companies use feedback loops for market testing. Put out a green shirt and a red shirt and whichever sells better becomes the only one offered in the future. Production costs go down, valuable retail shelf space is conserved.

Your body gives you feedback through processes like pain. You reach out a hand to touch a hot stove and nerve receptors send a warning in the form of an extremely painful burning sensation. The result: you withdraw your hand to avoid further injury.

The problem is this: many of the feedback loops you receive are deceiving. You eat things that taste good now but are bad for you in the long run. Running is not much fun, but cardiovascular health improves your life.

Bottom line: knowledge is the key to understanding the confusing messages of the feedback loops you have received. Understanding the benefits of better study habits can bring feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction that can’t be achieved by blowing off your homework and watching the tube.

Do

Look over your 20 previous 1-minute journals and any feedback received from your accountability partner. Think about what you’ve learned that you didn’t know and how it makes you feel. Write a paragraph about your experience. Post it online or share it with someone.

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What Now?

It’s been 21 days now. If you’ve followed the program, it’s been a pretty intense 21 days. Here are your choices going forward:

No matter what scenario you relate to, this one thing fits each one: changing your life is hard work. Don’t give up because the fight for the life you want to live is a life-long struggle. Remember the words of Churchill – “never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in . . .”

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