Advicefor the Holidays … Be a Scrooge!

HowThe “Ebenezer Effect” Can Change Your Life


This time of year, it’s worth considering severalvaluable lessons we can learn from Charles Dickens’ memorable miser, EbenezerScrooge. 

In AChristmas Carol, Scrooge comes face-to-face with the effects of his lifetimeof negative habits and attitudes when a series of ghosts show him the past,present and potential future.  The first apparition is Scrooge’s deceasedbusiness partner, Jacob Marley, who tells him: “I wear the chain I forgedin life. I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own freewill, and of my own free will I wore it." 


The links of Morley’s chainsound like they could well be the same negative habits and attitudes thatshackle poor Scrooge too.    


AfterScrooge encounters disturbing scenes in the Past and the Present, the ghost ofChristmas-Yet-To-Come transports him to a time just after his own funeral. He is forced to endure the painful, unvarnished truth of what people reallythink of him.  It’s an alarming but valuable wake up call for thestone-hearted curmudgeon.


“The Spirit wasimmovable as ever.  Scrooge crept towards it, trembling as he went; andfollowing the finger, read upon the stone of the neglected grave his own name,Ebenezer Scrooge.”


Spurred on by this shocking,up-close-and-personal rendezvous with his own mortality, Scrooge exclaims to theSpirit:  “I am not the man I was.  I will not be that wretchedcreature any longer.” 


And he is indeed transformedovernight.  He awakens the next morning, Christmas Day, a changed man. “I am as light as a feather,” he cries. “I am as happy as an angel. I am as merry as a schoolboy!” 


That’s the power of what Icall the “Ebenezer Effect.”  And it’s one important lesson we shouldlearn from Scrooge:  Personal transformation can happen quickly, evenovernight, if you believe it can and if you have the right motivation


Anotherlife-changing lesson is that we all have the ability to project ourselves intothe future and imagine what people are likely to say about us after we’regone.  Scrooge almost waited until it was too late.  The good news isyou don’t have to wait for a ghostly escort service.  You can take thisjourney anytime you want through the power of your own imagination.


Write Your Own Eulogy

As I describe inmy book (HabitForce!  How to Kick the Habits of FAILURE and Adopt theHabits of SUCCESS), there’s a great way to maximize the positive impact ofthis imaginary excursion to the future:  Sit down, grab a pen and notepad,and write your own eulogy. 


To some this maysound a bit morbid, but I assure you it’s an extremely enlightening,worthwhile and motivating process.   


Before youexclaim, “Bah, humbug!,” let me explain how this will benefit you.


Writing your owneulogy will help you jumpstart and sustain positive change in your life byestablishing a clear blueprint for what you want to accomplish, what kind ofperson you aspire to be, and how you want to be remembered.


It’s important to put your lifeinto perspective.  Which means taking the long view.  First imaginewhat you think your friends and loved ones will say and think about you whenyou’re gone.  Be brutally honest.  There’s no point lying toyourself about this.  Now imagine what you would WANT them to say and thinkabout you.  Is there a gap?  Then start closing the gap right away,just as Scrooge did that Christmas morning.  He had a lifetime ofcrotchetiness and selfishness for which to atone.      


As you write your eulogy, recordyour accomplishments in the past tense. Did you write that book you’ve beentalking about? Did you set a positive example? Did you donate and volunteer tohelp those less fortunate? Did you raise a wonderful family, start thatbusiness, travel the world, or learn another language?  Did you make apositive difference to your family, your community, your country and the worldat large?  In short, did you live up to your potential or did you fallshort? 


Be as specific and concrete aspossible. Don’t spare any details. It may be difficult, but try to seeyourself as others see you.  Don’t sugar coat things.


This eulogy exercise helps tofocus the mind on long-term goals and on big questions about your life’spurpose. The sooner you write your eulogy, the better.  Jacob Marley nevergot around to it.  Scrooge almost waited until it was too late to change. Don’t procrastinate.  This is something you should do right now!


AMission Statement You Can’t Ignore

Remember this.  Theeulogy you write today isn't etched in stone like Scrooge’s name on thattombstone.  You can always go back to the document periodically and makesome edits, add new goals or even remove things that no longer apply.  Themain thing is to get something on paper that reflects your long-term goals,heartfelt values, and deepest principles.  Those things shouldn't changevery much over time. 


Basically, your writteneulogy amounts to a uniquely powerful “mission statement” for your life,designed intentionally to get and keep your attention over time.  They saynothing focuses the mind like the guillotine.  Once written, this eulogy isa document that you ignore, literally, only at your peril.


At one point, Scrooge makesthis pledge to the ghost of Christmas-Yet-to-Come:  “I will honorChristmas in my heart and I will try to keep its spirit all year.  I willlive in the Past, the Present and the Future.  I will not forget thelessons that the Spirits of all three have taught me.”


Likewise, we should notforget the lessons Scrooge can teach us.  There’s no time like thepresent to project yourself into the future, write your own eulogy, and harnessthe power of the “Ebenezer Effect.”  


It’s a great way to clarifywhat’s most important to you and to set your life’s course in the directionyou want it to take … before it’s too late.  You sure don’t want yourwritten eulogy to be late for your own funeral. 


So this holiday season, goahead … be a Scrooge! 


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Contact: Matthew Cossolotto: 914-245-9721; Email: For more information, please visit