It's worth remembering that virtually all of the phenomena that paranormal researchers point to as evidence of supernatural or mystical occurrences can be replicated by magicians, most of whom readily admit they're illusionists and they're performing a trick. Doesn't that tell us something? And so, I have a little gremlin I want you to meet. My gremlin may sound bizarre, but that's because gremlin stories aren't prevalent in this day and age. Since gremlins aren't part of our culture, it's easy to see that we need extraordinary evidence before we believe such a claim. My word isn't good enough. On the other hand, things like alien encounters, Bigfoot sightings, and ghostly experiences are everywhere in our popular media, so belief in them seems more reasonable, even without extraordinary evidence. Don't forget though, at one time people believed in gremlins and fairies. That is not to say that we're going to disregard your outward behavior. There's a raging controversy in psychology about how "best" to bring about positive changes in people. The controversy boils down to this: Do we change feelings and emotions first and let behavioral change follow? Or do we change behaviors first, hoping that when people do different, they will feel different? I've listened to "brainiac" academicians go on, ad nauseam, about who in this debate was right and who was wrong; meanwhile, the people in need of the change sit there thinking, Hell, I don't care--just give me a plan! As many a politician has often said, "I feel strongly both ways." In short, who cares how the debate comes out? Why not do both at once: work on changing how you think and feel, while at the same time behaving your way to success? The plan you're about to learn is designed to help you do just that. It will help you make changes internally, focusing on all five factors that we've discussed, and change the way you engage the world externally at one and the same time. As you think, feel, and behave differently, you will be observing yourself and creating new, accurate data for your concept of self. You learn about yourself by observing yourself, just as you would observe another person. As you see yourself "behave" differently, behave more authentically, behave with more loyalty to yourself, both internally and externally, you will be creating a new history that will predict a new future.

In its simplest terms, the plan works like this: I will ask you to revisit the external and internal "life audits" that you performed and recorded while working through previous chapters. You'll identify which of the external events in your life have contaminated, rather than contributed to, your living consistently with your authentic self. You'll examine the internal factors and how you have continued to engage these "toxic" events. You will then know which areas must be "cleaned up" in order for you to maximize your life. Finally, you will take up some very specific tools for doing that cleaning, which, in turn, will set you on the path back to your authentic self. As I said earlier, we may not be able to change what has happened in your life, but we can certainly change the messages that have emanated from those events. We can change how you now respond and, therefore, change what power those events have in your current daily life. What this plan challenges you to do is pick up a particular "link" in your life chain, examine it, test your responses to it, then and now, then question the conclusions you have drawn and the behaviors you've engaged in as a result. I intend to challenge thoughts, feelings, and reactions that you may have been passively accepting for years and years. You may not have known better then, but you will know better now. You will be amazed at the power you have. You do not have to be a prisoner of your past. You do not have to walk this world with open wounds. You can heal, but that healing will occur from the inside out. It will be a product of what you do for yourself, not what someone does for you. I'd like to mention another key element: communication. If you don't communicate expectations to others, then they don't have any meaning. Further, when you communicate expectations, they must also be enforceable and consistent. Once that occurs, you should do everything you can to encourage, reinforce, and inspire others to meet these expectations. In summary, when it comes to expectations between people, you must identify goals, take action, establish consequences, and create habits.

In fact, positive habits will create neural pathways in the brain that will ultimately rewire a person for success. If you implement all this, it will move you constantly in small increments toward the goals that you want. It gets your brain thinking about attainable goals and increases your positivity. That's important because when you display positivity, it's contagious to everybody around you. Every great achievement began with an expectation. The championship boxer, the prize-winning violinist, and the world-renowned architect---each set a high expectation and then worked incredibly hard and diligently toward their goal. You can succeed at your expectations too. It all begins with a process of soul searching and introspection. What goals and purposes ignite your passion? What natural talents and abilities do you hope to develop? What accomplishment do you want to be part of your legacy? You should aim high, but also be realistic. This is a paradoxical and difficult balance to get right. The expectations you choose should stretch you beyond your present limits, but they also have to be grounded in reality. Life will provide you feedback, and you will need to adjust your goals accordingly. Faith will be so important in sustaining you as you pursue your ambitions. If you believe in something beyond yourself---God, your family, or a noble cause dear to your heart---then you will be greatly strengthened in your journey. In this context, faith is the ability to believe in a higher calling even when that aim is obscured by the clouds of doubt, uncertainty, or other obstacles. When you believe with all your heart in the worthiness of an expectation, then you become willing to expend every ounce of your energy in accomplishing it. The vigorous psychological and physical effort you exert catalyzes and stirs up something deep in the currents of existence.

Consequently, life meets you partway. In other words, the innate creativity of life is unleashed through your striving and faith. We tend to believe that the most important thing about an email is its content, but that's not exactly right. The most important aspect of an email, from a time management perspective, is how urgently it needs a reply. Because we forget when the sender needs a reply, we waste time rereading the message. The solution to this mania is simple: only touch each email twice. The first time we open an email, before closing it, answer this question: When does this email require a response? Tagging each email as either "Today" or "This Week" attaches the most important information to each new message, preparing it for the second (and last) time we open it. Of course, for super-urgent, email-me-right-now-type messages, go ahead and respond. Messages that don't need a response at all should be deleted or archived immediately. Note that I'm not telling you to tag emails by topic or categories, only by when the message requires a response. Tagging emails in this way frees your mind from distraction because you know you'll reply during the time you've specifically allocated for this purpose in your timeboxed schedule. In my case, I give my inbox a quick perusal before my morning coffee. Tagging each new email by when it requires a reply takes no more than ten minutes. It gives me peace of mind to know nothing will fall through the cracks. I can leave those messages alone and do focused work until it's time to reply. My daily schedule includes dedicated time for replying to emails I've tagged "Today." It's much quicker to respond to the urgent messages than to have to wade through all my emails to figure out which need a response by the end of the day. In addition, I reserve a three-hour timebox each week to plow through the less urgent messages I've tagged "This Week." Finally, at the end of my week, I review my schedule to assess whether the time on my calendar for emailing was sufficient and adjust my timeboxed schedule for the week ahead. Why not quickly type out a response when you first open a message? Taking two minutes to reply to an email on your phone doesn't sound like a big deal, until you realize that with the hundreds of messages we receive per day, those two minutes can quickly add up.

Soon, two minutes turn into ten, fifteen, or sixty, and you've wasted your day frantically banging out replies instead of focusing on what you really want to achieve. Slaying the messaging monster requires a host of weapons to hack back this persistent source of distraction, but by experimenting with these proven techniques, we can rein in the triggers that take us off track. Triggers are events or circumstances that may cause you distress and lead to an increase in your depression symptoms. It is important to understand that certain circumstances have the potential to set off an episode of depression for you. Triggers can be different for each person, so to be aware of them in your everyday Once you have identified what events are Triggers for you, you can figure out with your therapist what steps you can take to minimize their effect on you and improve the situation. You may not be able to change the Trigger, but you can change your response to it. Write your Triggers and these steps in your Action Plan. Warning Signs are distinct changes from your baseline that precede an episode of depression or mania. Each person has a characteristic pattern of Warning Signs. Early recognition of yours gives you a chance to intervene and modify (change or improve) the course of the episode. The intervention Action Plan for Relapse Prevention outlines the steps you will take to manage, cope with, and distract from the intensity of an episode of depression or mania. It also lists the people you will ask to help you: health care providers, family, and friends. Research has shown that having a written self-care plan for situations that would lead to a worsening or a recurrence of depression can help manage depression and decrease symptoms. Work with your therapist to develop an intervention Action Plan to use when you or others notice your Warning Signs or a change in your emotional state. There is a close connection between our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors (actions). Each of these influences the others. For example, a certain thought may cause you to feel sad. This may then affect your behavior, causing you to cry and withdraw. You then feel more sad. Another thought may cause you to feel anxious, and consequently your behavior is jittery.