The bestselling book “Lone Survivor” details the brutal training
endured by Navy SEAL hopefuls. One of the leaders advises the men,
“Don’t let your thoughts run away with you; don’t start planning to
bail because you’re worried about the future and how much you can
take. Don’t look ahead to the pain. … Take it one day at a

SEALs get their bodies, minds and gear into amazing order so
that they can get into and out of abysmal conditions and so protect
our cushy way of life. I felt awfully wimpy as I read the book,
since the slightest crimp in my neck sends me racing to the Tylenol
and a massage table. I’ve resolved to get a lot tougher with myself
and a tiny bit tougher with my clients in our quest to get lean and

Simple, but not easy, describes the physical SEAL training. The
“one day at a time” mantra that gets them through drills in the
freezing Pacific Ocean is the same slogan that helps addicts and
alcoholics string together clean and sober years. It can also help
anyone willing to begin digging themselves out of

A fantastic new book that explains some of the reasons
disciplined people can do what they do is “Willpower: Rediscovering
the Greatest Human Strength,” by Roy Baumeister and John Tierney.
Suggestions for boosting willpower based on scientific research are
threaded through examples from the lives of celebrities such as
Drew Carey and Oprah, which make for an entertaining read.

Let’s take a look at a few ways to build your willpower.

If your goal is to get more done at work, install a program in
your computer that bans Facebook and other time-sucking activities.
If you want to reduce your sugar intake, don’t keep sweets in the
house. Sounds straightforward, right? I used to think that
willpower or discipline meant keeping my resolutions in spite of
the fact that temptation is right in my face. Not so. It takes
willpower to prevent the temptation from even showing up.

Plan for surprises — SEALs train in wet and sandy conditions and
the end result is that they can perform even in extreme
temperatures and other discomfort. The organized warrior plans for
interruptions, traffic, changes in the weather, a child home from
school, etc. Be able to complete your mission even when the
variables shift.

Plan for hunger. Glucose feeds the brain, the thing responsible
for self-control. When glucose is depleted, willpower ebbs (and
sweets — the fast glucose-raisers — beckon). Keep yourself steady
with healthy snacks and you’ll find it much easier to finish your
projects, not to mention maintain a healthy diet.

Once you’ve grooved a routine and maintained your habit changes
for awhile, things that used to trigger a bad habit won’t cause you
to backslide. For example, if your new habit is to hang up your
clothes each night, being extra tired one day won’t keep you from
the little extra effort it takes to stick to your plan.

It also helps to have a friend or family member who is trying to
change a habit too, even if it is not the same habit. While your
sister is trying to improve her diet, you might be trying to empty
your email inbox each afternoon, but at the end of the day you can
still make a phone call to encourage each other. In the Navy SEALs,
camaraderie and the buddy system are absolutely essential; in fact,
it is life and death to those guys. That’s powerful stuff.

So, “Hooyah!” Push out those labels and get filing. Take it one
drawer at a time and get in shape for 2012.

Angela Hoxsey is a professional organizer based in the
Napa Valley. For information about her services, go to or call 738-4346. Follow House in Order on
Facebook for more organizing tricks and tips.