Monday, February 13, 2012

Take the Stairs: How Self-Discipline and Goal Setting Improve Our Mental Health

An Interview with Rory Vaden

The Carson J Spencer Foundation excited for Rory Vaden and the Take the Stairs tour to come to town on March 4th (Littleton) and 6th (Denver)! We are so honored that he is donating the proceeds for this event to help us expand our youth entrepreneurship program to the state of Colorado and to support our partners at the University of Colorado Depression Center.
Rory is a professional speaker and author who promotes self-discipline, and we believe his message ties in well with our mission to help leaders and communities “sustain a passion for life.” I met Rory last fall at the Colorado’s chapter meeting of the National Speakers Association where he was the featured speaker. I was immediately drawn to his “true grit” approach to reaching challenging goals and felt his practical advice on making dreams become reality was spot on for our youth who are now transitioning from business plan creation to implementation.
I also know how goal-setting and persistence affect mental health. The Depression-Bipolar Support Alliance suggests that creating the life you want is an excellent way to build resilience against the on-set of depression.

That said, we also know that goal setting when one is depressed is hard,, and sometimes the smallest steps seem huge. For these reasons the University of Michigan Depression Center created a goal-setting toolkit.
Dr. Michael Allen, Director of Research at the Depression Center noted that, “Flexibility in goal-setting often leads to success. We must learn to adapt to what's available even though it's not a perfect match with our interests or goals. A problem in depression is rigidity and perseveration.” 
The types of goals we set also influence our well-being.  For example, people who value relationship goals above achievement oriented goals have been found to have a greater sense of wellbeing than people who place achievement goals above relationship goals.  Our perceived lack of progress towards our goals affects our mood, especially when there are large discrepancies between where we are and where we think we should be. Finally, our self-talk around goal failure can influence our mood, do we say, “Bummer! I learned some lessons here and can grow from this experience,” or do we say, “I am a failure. I am always failing. The world is against me.”
For these reasons, I interviewed Rory about his philosophy, book and what we should expect from his presentations on March 4th and 6th.
SALLY: What is Take the Stairs all about?
RORY: The last time you had the option of heading up the escalator or taking the stairs, did you take the stairs? If you're like most people then probably not.  Unfortunately most people have an "escalator" mentality in all areas of their life. They are looking for the shortcut, the easy way, and the overnight success. Yet even in this instant age, success in anything simply comes down to discipline; the discipline to do things you don't want to do.  The book is about the psychology of overcoming procrastination, how to simplify the process of improving our self-discipline, and how to get ourselves to do the things we know we should do when we don't feel like doing them.
SALLY: In your experience, how does goal setting and goal achievement affect self-perception and mood?
RORY: The most disciplined people in the world have determined that the best strategy is to put your self-esteem into your work habits and not your outcomes. In other words they focus only on what they can control and let the rest of life happen as it may. This is important because it means we can have confidence in ourselves that is unconditional and not affected by the positive or negative circumstances we may be facing in life as long as we are working as hard as possible on the things that we have in our power. I’d encourage people to focus on the next step in their path. What is the best thing is that they can do to influence that step? I tell people not put so much pressure on themselves about whether or not their goal may come to fruition exactly as hoped.
SALLY: What can people expect when they come to the event?  Who should come?

RORY: Everyone!  From high school students and their parents to professionals in the community, everyone can benefit from improved self-discipline.  I’ll be teaching the 7 strategies of simplifying self-discipline that are in the book.  Plus, by being there you’re supporting the Carson J Spencer Foundation’s Fire Within Program.  I look forward to being there!

This event is for people who want a more fulfilling lifestyle—those who are looking to take a different approach in 2012. My goal with this event will be to change the way audience members look at their path to success—each dream is achievable, but short cuts are not an option. We’re going to talk about why taking the stairs is the only route to the top.

Join Us! You can register for FREE but seating is limited.
 To learn more about Rory, please visit  

March 4th at Columbine High School
March 6th at the Colorado Depression Center

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