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Hard Work and Resiliency: An Interview with Researcher Joseph Ferrari

“Don’t give up, reinvent yourself when you can—learn to adapt. There is a saying, ‘you can’t control the wind, but you can adjust the sails.’ This means life will present challenges and often there is nothing we can do about that—but we can learn to adjust our approach, try to look at new ports or even just go with the flow of the wind.”

Still Procrastinating: The No Regret Guide to Getting It Done
Ferrari’s book

Joseph R. Ferrari, PhD, is Professor of Psychology and St. Vincent de Paul Distinguished Professor at DePaul University in Chicago, IL. He is a journal editor since 1995 and the prolific author of over 500 academic articles, and of the popular book Still Procrastinating: The No Regret Guide to Getting It Done. As an applied social-community psychologist, he delves into matters of caregiver stress and satisfaction, community volunteerism, religious leadership, sense of belong, school identity, and addiction recovery homes to name just a few. At last count, he has 12 manuscripts currently under review. In addition to his hugely productive academic pursuits, Dr.. Ferrari is a family man who is also quite active in his church community. We knew he was a good person to talk to about habits and productivity!

Professor Ferrari is one of the featured experts in our book, The Strongest Mind in the RoomSign up to get free chapters, interviews from the book.

As Dr. Ferrari told us, “If you want something done, give it to a busy person! Why are they busy: Because they value time: your time and their time. They know that life is not all about themselves, unlike the way that procrastinators think, ‘I delay because I don’t want to do it. ‘Life is about ME, but WE.'” Let’s see what this busy person generously shared with us…

What’s your own daily routine like: What habits do you cultivate and what benefits do you find in them?

I am a Deacon in the Catholic Church (deacons are often married members of the clergy); I was ordained a year ago, after 4+ years of classes while working full time. I say this because I took a vow to pray every morning and every evening the Liturgy of the Hours—some of the oldest Christian prayers. My morning at home begins with such prayers while I use the stepper in my basement; after 20 minutes of the Liturgy of the Hours, I move to reading the next several weeks of Sun Gospels and any Homilies I have over those next 4-6 weeks—all on the stepper. This way, I work out and practice my readings and engage in my prayers. Email, coffee and something to eat….this is the start of my day at home. Night time, from 6:30 to 7:30/8pm: same routine after dinner.

For a day at work, I’m up at 5am, out the door at 5:15 to beat morning rush traffic; coffee in the car. I’m at work and car parked by around 6am. I head into the office and check mail, copy a few things, settle in, and then by 6:30-40, over to the gym…prayer and the stepper for 45 min. Shower, dress, and over to the 8am morning Mass, where I often assist. By 8:30am, I have done my morning routines, and am ready to start the work day!

Prof. Ferrari with his family.
Professor Ferrari with his family. Ferrari balances career with family and service in his church.

Our readers are people making a conscious effort to improve their lives by developing habits. Based on your research, what advice can you offer them to be successful in habit change?

It’s an old saying, but it is true (that’s why we still say it)…but HARD WORK makes one successful. Don’t give up, reinvent yourself when you can—learn to adapt. There is a saying, “you can’t control the wind, but you can adjust the sails.” This means life will present challenges and often there is nothing we can do about those winds—but we can learn to adjust our approach; try to look for new ports, and sometimes, just go with the flow of the wind.

Now, I’m saying all this as a 58 yr old man; my answers would have been different at 48, 38, and especially 28. If you are a 28 yr old, my words might not have personal meaning to you, so maybe you need to battle against the wind as much as you can. And only through life’s challenges will you see that the journey of life is great, and those failures along the way really were ‘teachable moments.’ Ask, ‘what is valuable and something I can learn from this event:’ Lick your wounds and move forward. The wind will return, so be prepared.

Are there any habits you’re trying to develop now: What motivated you to work on them:

There is always a danger to be more task-oriented than people-oriented; either extreme is no good. So, I am working on a balance toward these ends.

Who or what inspires you: Who’s habits would you like to know more about and why:

So many people, I knew growing up: teachers, professors, friends, wife, kids; even people I did not like (to learn more about doing the opposite to others). My God and Christian faith. Too many to list = everyone impacts our life whether we are aware or not. It’s not about ME, it’s about WE. provides everything you need to improve performance in diet, fitness, productivity, and life. If you’re feeling inspired by Prof. Ferarri, try adding these habits to your dashboard:

  • Pray: join others who are cultivating their spiritual development through prayer.
  • Exercise: a foundational habit to improve your life.

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