These Two Entrepreneurs Found a Great Way to Work Smarter, Not Harder

And out of their struggle, they made a product to help others.

These Two Entrepreneurs Found a Great Way to Work Smarter, Not Harder

It's easy to be busy and not get anything done. Ever spend an entire day answering emails and not make any headway on a project? That's exactly how Cathryn Lavery and Allen Brouwer felt.

Both had left their day jobs in order to pursue their own business ventures. But they struggled.

“After a while it felt like we were on a treadmill, working every day, but not getting anywhere,” they write. “We’d feel busy, but not productive. We’d get to the end of the day and feel unclear on what we accomplished that really mattered.”

Lavery said they noticed a trend among high-performing, successful people: their ability to plan and pace their progress into actionable steps. So, they needed a way to organize their goals, and out of it came the Self Journal. Necessity, after all, is the mother of invention.

“We'd been reading a bunch of books on successful people, on what they do and we just started applying it to ourselves,” said Lavery. “What we should do every day and how we should approach setting a goal and reaching it. Before we did that, we were just kind of a mess where we were just reactive and not moving forward at all.

“As soon as we started applying these principals everyday it started to turn on, and so that's when Allen and I started creating this product just for ourselves. Then later on when we showed it to people, we decided clearly this is something other people could use.”

The result was what would become the Self Journal — the first product of their company, Best Self Co.

So, what makes this journal different from the rest?

There's a psychology behind its design.


It's only a three-month journal,” said Lavery. “To be honest, I've been looking for something like this because year-long journals never work. I think a study showed that 88 percent of people fail [in completing their New Years resolutions] because it's really difficult to take that year-long resolution and break it down into actionable steps.”

A yearlong goal seems overwhelming, and trying to break that down led her to giving up, but applying a shorter timeline toward a goal (or part of it) makes it seem more manageable.

Lavery said she found “a three-month timeline is a long enough time where you can see the end-goal in your vision. It also doesn't give you time to procrastinate on taking action today.” She said they wanted to create a sense of urgency with the journal, so people would be less likely to procrastinate.

Humans, for some reason, have a tough time relating to their future selves. One study found that we're able to connect better with ourselves when we frame a deadline in terms of days instead of years. Other experts claim we have trouble connecting with a goal when we lose focus of the meaning behind it — even a fear of failure can be a deterrent. But they're all mental barriers that keep us from addressing what needs to be done today.

The Self Journal helped Lavery and Brouwer write through all those psychological deterrents. They're now hoping to sell their key to success as a solution to help others.


Natalie has been writing professionally for about 6 years. After graduating from Ithaca College with a degree in Feature Writing, she snagged a job at where she had the opportunity to review all the latest consumer gadgets. Since then she has become a writer for hire, freelancing for various websites. In her spare time, you may find her riding her motorcycle, reading YA novels, hiking, or playing video games. Follow her on Twitter: @nat_schumaker

Photo Credit: Best Self Co.

No, the Yellowstone supervolcano is not ‘overdue’

Why mega-eruptions like the ones that covered North America in ash are the least of your worries.

Ash deposits of some of North America's largest volcanic eruptions.

Image: USGS - public domain
Strange Maps
  • The supervolcano under Yellowstone produced three massive eruptions over the past few million years.
  • Each eruption covered much of what is now the western United States in an ash layer several feet deep.
  • The last eruption was 640,000 years ago, but that doesn't mean the next eruption is overdue.
Keep reading Show less

Smartly dressed: Researchers develop clothes that sense movement via touch

Measuring a person's movements and poses, smart clothes could be used for athletic training, rehabilitation, or health-monitoring.

Technology & Innovation

In recent years there have been exciting breakthroughs in wearable technologies, like smartwatches that can monitor your breathing and blood oxygen levels.

Keep reading Show less

Do you worry too much? Stoicism can help

How imagining the worst case scenario can help calm anxiety.

Stoicism can help overcome anxiety

Credit: OLIVIER DOULIERY via Getty Images
Personal Growth
  • Stoicism is the philosophy that nothing about the world is good or bad in itself, and that we have control over both our judgments and our reactions to things.
  • It is hardest to control our reactions to the things that come unexpectedly.
  • By meditating every day on the "worst case scenario," we can take the sting out of the worst that life can throw our way.
Keep reading Show less