Best Of, Blogishness, Blogishness, Book Notes, MFA Notes, Politics / News, Politics / News, ptsd, Self Improvement / Healthy Living, Self Improvement / Healthy Living, Uncategorized

Annotative Essay on the book: ‘All Quiet on the Western Front,’ by E.M. Remarque

all quiet on the western front annotative essay

all quiet on the western front book cover

When soldiers are sent to the trenches of war, amongst the necessity for their rifles, daily food rations and combat boots, there is also a necessity for them to have left their loved ones behind. No families are allowed on the front lines, for just as a man would never masturbate in front of his dear mother; neither would he commit an act of war.  Those things which happen during battle are for warriors’ eyes only.  But what E.M. Remarque does in his work of fiction, All Quiet on the Western Front, is to bring war to the eyes of those who have never seen it; and it is through his detailed depiction of the inner landscape of a soldier’s soul, that he gives vision to the families, and creates a truly unique work of literary fiction.

[pullquote]”A good book forces a man to convalesce into himself and write in the margins his deepest thoughts; spurred on by a word or phrase.”[/pullquote]We are carried through the book by E.M. Remarque’s main character, Paul, whose internal thoughts, emotions and musings, teach us more about war than every General and Politician, combined. No television personality or Pulitzer Prize winning journalist could convey what a soldier, who was there, can with a mere look of the eye, or a single spoken sentence, “The war has ruined us for everything.”  It is in this way that the author shows his hand; for within the first ten pages, I knew that the author had to be a combat veteran himself—after a Google search I discovered that I was right.  A reader can always intuitively feel when an author has ‘been there,’ and ‘done that,’ and not merely been to the library and done the appropriate research.  It’s why writers throughout the ages have continued to give the sage advice “stick with what you know.”  Anything else is unacceptable, phony.  And this is where the author’s true talents lay.

As a reader I felt more as though I were reading a man’s private journal than reading a work of fiction, for in the same way that fiction can feel more real than non-fiction, the author found a way to have his story told fully and personally. This is excellently done on E. M. Remarque’s part, because when an author writes a good book, it truly should act as a journal for the author’s character, and become a journal for the reader.  A good book forces a man to convalesce into himself and write in the margins his deepest thoughts; spurred on by a word or phrase.  A typical work of fiction or non-fiction hardly drives a reader to write in the margins, or to stop and pause as he ponders over a thought which has, seemingly, randomly popped into his head.  The author’s greatest achievement isn’t his descriptions of the actual landscape of war, nor his political descriptions and breakdowns of the madness of war, although both are well done, his real style is in his ability to bare a man’s/character’s soul and have the reader feel as though they are reading non-fiction rather than fiction.

“We have become wild beasts. We do not fight, we defend ourselves against annihilation.  It is not against men that we fling our bombs, what do we know of men in this moment when Death is hunting us down—now, for the first time in three days we can see his face, now for the first time in three days we can oppose him; we feel a mad anger.  No longer do we lie helpless, waiting on the scaffold, we can destroy and kill, to save ourselves, to save ourselves and to be revenged.”

It is through detailed musings like this which we learn more about the author, the characters, and the story itself, then we could through the scenery of the trees, scenes of actual battles, or dialogue. As stated before, the author excels in all three aspects, but what truly makes his work unique is the inner, not the outer.  Although, in order for the author to truly make his internal musings as powerful as he does, he sets things up by first building up the scenery of the war, “The wire entanglements are torn to pieces.  Yet they offer some obstacle.  We see the storm-troops coming…” deepens it with the scenes of action, “We make for the rear, pull wire cradles into the trench and leave bombs behind us with the strings pulled…”, and only then does he delve into the inner character workings and musing. “We have become wild beasts.  We do not fight, we defend ourselves against annihilation…”

“E. M. Remarque shows us that what drives his story is the inner parts of a man.”

What is absent from the author’s story is any plot or typical character development. There is no arch.  No one, or nothing, is keeping Paul from his true love or his goal; nor is Paul fighting for any altruistic reason, he neither seems to be fighting against any real enemy or even himself, and he fights for no reason.  Paul is merely a man struggling to exist as a soldier in a war.  The author fills in the blanks and the storyline with, instead of a typical hero/love plot, reflections from a young soldier as he struggles through war and ultimately ends up with nothing and no one.  There is no growth.  No middle.  No climax.  No end.  No conclusion.  But the story misses nothing, and through the author’s technique of internal character exploration, the story is carried on even though we have no definitive storyline to carry us through.  War calls for no further subtext than a soldier trying to stay alive, and keep his sanity.  There is no different war story to be told.  This is what the author gives us.

A book made of such mental vivisection that if it were any more real, readers would have to be treated for PTSD.

“And this I know: all these things that now, while we are still in the war, sink down in us like a stone, after the war shall waken again, and then shall begin the disentanglement of life and death.”

“The days, the weeks, the years out here shall come back again, and our dead comrades shall then stand up again and march with us, our heads shall be clear, we shall have a purpose, and so we shall march, our dead comrades beside us, the years at the front behind us: –against whom, against whom?”

What I’ve learned from this book is that character and internal landscape is king, and combined with good scenery, good action, and good dialogue, a classic can be born. E. M. Remarque shows us that what drives his story is the inner parts of a man, but in order for that to work the scenery must be setup, then the scene itself, and then the inner musings.

For more annotative essays and other book related stuff click here.

Picture: Flickr/ Gwydion M. Williams

Best Of, MFA Notes, Self Improvement / Healthy Living, Self Improvement / Healthy Living, Uncategorized

AJ Verdelle – Revising Your Writing

revising your creative work with aj verdelleType A Revision – with A.J. Verdelle – How to Revise Your Writing

Write → Review → Tighten → Clarify → Reorder → Seek nuance → Move the story forward →

How do you know when your story is finished?

Finished: When you’ve said all you have to say.

Finished: When there’s a clear beginning, middle, and end.

Remember: “You don’t get the book you wanted, you get the book you get.” – James Baldwin

Sometimes a revision is simply an addition. If your addition doesn’t add tension, drama, or explain something, then maybe you don’t need it. Whatever you keep, make sure it serves the narrative.

Eliminiate excess! “The good shit wants to play with the good shit!” – Thomas Sayers Ellis. (Get rid of anything that isn’t “Good Shit.”)

Clarity is non-negotiable – Don’t make readers have to guess, don’t confuse them.

Get rid of redundancy: “The sun rose this morning.” Great. But the sun rises every morning, everyone knows that. The sun doesn’t rise at night. Revision would be “The sun rose.” (This is, of course, unless you’re writing some dystopian story where the sun doesn’t usually rise, etc.)

Revise only when the work is finished, when there’s closure. Don’t revise when you’re still working on it; don’t revise an unfinished piece of work. You need to be finished before you revise because you need to know where you want to end up before you figure out how to get there.

  • Rise above your work.
  • Circle the verbs (if they’re not necessary, then kill them!)
  • We want action and drama in our stories!
  • Action and reaction go together.

Think about killing your verbs: “Dan came into the room, clumsily.” VS “Dan came into the room late, like always.” Ask yourself if the verb is actually serving the story. Focus on accuracy. “The building appears…” A building doesn’t just “appear.”

When revising ask yourself: Why did I write this work?

(What did I intend to write? VS What did I actually write?)

*Look at places where you can get rid of the word “it” (more often than you think).*

*You need to be able to say what you’re writing about in 18 words or less.*

*Look at any word longer than 8 letters and make sure it’s doing it’s job.*

 *These notes were from one of my favorite professor at Lesley University: A.J. Verdelle.*

Click here to see more MFA Notes

Recommended book for this section: The Good Negress: A Novel, by A.J. Verdelle.

Picture: Flickr/Katie Sadler

 About these MFA Notes: Revising your creative writing

Recently, I graduated from Lesley University with an MFA in creative writing, and I decided that I wanted to share what I learned in a series of blog posts.

I decided to share for two reasons:

1) My notes, although not too detailed, could possibly  help other writers.

2) Rewriting my notes forces me to re-read and re-think everything I learned, so it’s a win-win.

But before we dive in, please keep two things in mind:

1) These notes are neither complete nor perfect. The classes at Lesley were not typical lecture/note classes; the classes were filled with writing and thinking exercises and often this left no time for notes (in a good way). However, even with that, these sparse notes, I do believe, could still offer value.

2) I may, from time to time, include actual writing prompts from the classes, please bare with me, they’re first drafts and were done in the moment.

I hope you enjoy this series of notes and if you have any questions about the notes, Lesley University, or MFA’s, please feel free to contact me.

Best Of, Blackout Poetry, Blogishness, ptsd, Uncategorized

Blackout Poetry: Veteran Suicides

Blackout Poetry Logo WarIn case you’re not familiar with Blackout Poetry, Blackout Poetry is the act of creating poems by blacking out words that appear in newspaper articles (or books, but typically newspaper articles). I was inspired to give it a shot after being introduced to it by Austin Kleon. I’ve got a six month subscription to The Army Times and I’ll be experimenting with it throughout the next few months.

 —Blackout Poetry veteran suicides

This was an article that appeared in the April 13th 2015 edition of The Army Times. The article discussed veteran suicides across active duty and reserve/national guard soldiers. In 2014 suicides decreased for active duty soldiers but increased for reserve soldiers. With 22 veterans killing themselves every day in the United States (we’ve lost two to suicide from the unit I served with in Iraq) this is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. I tried to boil down the article into its major points and through the redaction process I came up with the poem pictures above (and transcribed below).

Suicides Up

Suicides confirmed

it was their own


Suicides Down

Service members

protect us

support them.

Crisis line, 800-273-8255

 For more military/war related blackout poetry click here.

To learn more about the war-time military experience check out the following book:

Audio, Best Of, Self Improvement / Healthy Living, Self Improvement / Healthy Living

How to Build Your Self Discipline

military self disciplineSelf Discipline: Self Discipline is a person’s ability to get done, what they say they’ll get done.  If a person says that they’re going to wake up at 7:00am, then they get up at 7:00am—not 7:01, 7:02 or 7:03.

Like most things in life to get better at a skill, you’ve got to practice.  And since Self Discipline is a skill that can be learned, that means it’s a skill that needs to be practiced.  The more a person practices self discipline, the more disciplined they become, the less practice, the less disciplined.  Everyone has different levels of self discipline; if a person can look at a piece of chocolate cake, and if they can wait, even one second, between wanting to devour the cake, and actually doing so, then they have self discipline.  Some people can look at the cake, want to eat it, and not eat it.  They have stronger self discipline.  There are just different levels, and most people fall somewhere in-between.  The great thing, though, is that if anyone wants to improve their self discipline, it’s actually pretty easy.

(1)   The first step to building self discipline is to gauge where you’re current levels are.  Take a moment to think of areas where you are disciplined; then take a moment to look at areas where you’re not discipline.  Rate yourself on a 1-10 scale, and if you’re honest, you’ll have a good gauge of where your discipline is currently at.

(2)   Once you know your level, it’s time to give yourself a test.  It’s best to start easy.  Too many people, when starting to build self discipline, they will pick some huge outrageous goal.  For example: someone might say “I want to develop discipline to run five miles every day.”  They’ll motivate themselves, and pump themselves up, then on the first day they’ll run four miles, pull a hamstring, say it’s too hard, and give up.  Blah!

a.       If a person’s goal is to eventually be discipline enough to run five miles a day, then they need to build up their self discipline progressively.  If someone’s not a runner, first they’ll need to build up the discipline to walk five miles a day.  If someone can’t walk five miles, then there’s no way that they can run five miles.  For some people they might need to start even smaller and start off walking just one mile a day, then two, then three, then four, then five, then running a mile and walking four, then running two miles and walking three, etc.

b.      The same thing goes for time, as well.  If someone wants to run or walk every day, then they might want to first start off committing to walking or running three times a week, and see if they can accomplish that.  Then if they can do that, move on to four times a week, then five, then six, etc.

(3)   Once you start to build up your self discipline and can get to a certain level, it’s always important to try to branch out and either make yourself more disciplined or become disciplined in a new field.  If you’re running/walking five miles a day but are still eating two bags of cookies a day, then it might be time to start to build up your dietary discipline.

(4)   Repeat steps 1-3 until you’ve developed adequate amounts of discipline in all steps of your life.

(5)   Don’t become too disciplined.  I’ve heard too many stories of people who become so disciplined that they allow their ‘disciplined habits’ to run their lives.    There was one guy I knew in the Army who was extremely discipline.  He would wake up every day at 5:00am.  He would run two miles, do a hundred jumping jacks, and a hundred push ups.  He’d then shower for exactly 10 minutes.  Eat a healthy breakfast of a banana and oatmeal, back a nice protein shake for lunch, and then head off to work.  That was his day, every day, for the past ten years that he’d been in the Army.  The guy was one of the most tightly wound lunatics I had ever met.  He was so disciplined that he had no idea who to just let go, and stray from his daily routines.  He wouldn’t go out with friends because he had to be in bed at exactly 9:30 pm so that he could wake up at 5:00am.  He wouldn’t go out to eat because no restaurants could meet his strict dietary disciplined standards.  The stories go on and on.  He was a time-bombing waiting to go off.  So make sure to build your discipline, but don’t take things too far.

Self discipline won’t come easy, but that’s the beauty of it.  If it did come easy, then it would be called discipline.

Some of my favorite quotes on self-discipline:

“We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.” –Jesse Owens

“Mental toughness is many things and rather difficult to explain. Its qualities are sacrifice and self-denial. Also, most importantly, it is combined with a perfectly disciplined will that refuses to give in. It’s a state of mind-you could call it character in action.”— Vince Lombardi
“Ultimately, the only power to which man should aspire is that which he exercises over himself.” –Elie Wiesel

“Nothing is more harmful to the service, than the neglect of discipline; for that discipline, more than numbers, gives one army superiority over another.”—George Washington

Related Posts:

What the Military Teaches About Self-Discipline

I will Never Accept Defeat.  I Will Never Quit.

Military Time Management: CARVER System

Target VS Mission: Smaller Goals VS Larger Goals

Best Of, Self Improvement / Healthy Living, Self Improvement / Healthy Living

What the Military Teaches About Self Discipline

How to develop military self disciplineWhen a person joins the military, his first taste of discipline is external. His drill sergeants assume that he has no self discipline and thus seek to install it;  left to his own devices, the soldier, sailor, or airman would be slovenly and too self absorbed to succeed.

Had the new recruit chosen another life, college or a civilian job, his time away from the classroom or the shop would have been his own. He could have decided on his own when to get up, when to study and what to do after hours. No one would have spoken to him about the shine on his shoes and the length of his hair.

This is not to say that the young civilian would not find discipline in his life. He would also be growing as a person and realizing that he must please his boss or his teacher if he ever wanted to succeed. However, his path to maturity can be slower. The military man has gone into a demanding profession. His country depends on him for its very survival. He is going to be asked to risk or give his life for his fellow soldiers and for the nation. He has to grow up fast and be ready to do things that lesser men cannot.

So his first days in the military, aren’t pleasant ones. Discipline must be ground into him. He has to gain physical strength, endurance, knowledge, and spirit quickly. Day by day, morning and night, he is pushed to do more than he thinks he can. He is forced to stand tall and look sharp. He must run everywhere and never give an excuse for failure.

At first he is forced to do these things. He is watched, yelled at, and punished for every infraction. Bit by bit, though, he starts to internalize the code of the military. He starts to care if his fellow soldiers succeed or not. He starts to care about the military code. He stands tall, not because someone has told him to, but because of the pride inside him. He is fit and ready for the hard life ahead of him.

This determination and spirit does not leave the soldier when he leaves the military. He approaches tasks in the civilian world with the same self discipline that he acquired years back as a nervous young recruit. Now he is a confident individual, ready to tackle the projects that those around him fear are impossible.

He knows, first of all, the value of organization. He can put things into perspective. He sees that the impossible project is only a series of little tasks.

He learned long ago that self discipline is the first step towards leadership, and now he is ready to step to the front of the group and assign those tasks to others.

He realizes the importance of following through on a task and following up on the people assigned to it. He knows that the self discipline that rests in his breast may not be present in his non-military team mates. He is ready to lead by example or push from behind. Whatever the moment requires, he can do. He is not afraid to praise or to punish. As the job nears completion, he sees that same spirit of comradeship and pride beginning to grow the same way it did for him when the military taught him all about self discipline.

Looking for a good book on military discipline? Then check out the book “Unleash the Warrior Within,” by former Navy SEAL Richard Machowitz. It’s one of my favorites!

 Related Posts:

How to Build Your Self Discipline

Military Time Management: CARVER System

I Will Never Accept Defeat.  I Will Never Quit.

Target VS Mission: Smaller Goals VS Larger Goals

Best Of, Self Improvement / Healthy Living, Self Improvement / Healthy Living

Target VS Mission: Smaller Goals VS Larger Goals

In the military we’re trained to accomplish missions, and in order to accomplish mission—large scale ones—often, the military will set up smaller targets to accomplish that will eventually lead to the accomplishment of the primary mission.

This can be useful as a way of looking at goals.  If a person has a larger goal, in order to reach that goal, they have a lot of little goals that they, most likely, have to accomplish first.  This is the same as the military strategy of mission and targets.  To accomplish a larger goal, a person needs to know exactly what it is.   What’s the mission?  What is trying to be accomplished?  A new job? More money?  Better health?  You need to know what the mission is.  A soldier always knows what his mission is—and if he doesn’t know, someone screwed up along the chain of command.

Once the larger mission is established, we need to establish a series of targets that we need to get, take down, achieve, destroy, etc; in order for us to achieve our mission.  There may be as many as ten, twenty or thirty targets, or as few as five, three, or even just one.

Make a list of all possible targets that you’ll need to accomplish in order to achieve your goal.  Let’s say that you want to lose thirty pounds.  In order to complete your mission, you’ll need to accomplish certain targets, some examples might be: Get a gym membership, buy some weights, throw out all the junk food in the house, start that first day, keep it up for a week, lose that first five pounds, get a personal trainer, eat healthier, run everyday, etc.  These are all targets that, once accomplished, can help lead you towards achievement of your ultimate mission.

Now, once you have all your targets picked out, you’ll need to refer back to the post I did on the CARVER system—basically, the CARVER system is a military system about figuring out which target to accomplish first, second, third, etc.

Once you know what your first target is, all you have to do is accomplish that one certain thing.  You don’t have to loose thirty pounds, all you’ve go to do is achieve every target and the mission will complete itself.

Let’s say that you go through the CARVER system and you discover that the most important target for you to get first is to throw out all the junk food in the house.  All you’ve then got to do is throw out all the junk food in the house, and you’ve already got one target achieved.  Then go on to the next one, and the next one, etc.

This is pretty much the goal achievement method of the military.  It’s what we use in the hospital, it’s what the infantry guys use, it’s what the Special Forces guys use, everyone uses it.  Whether you’re trying to capture an enemy combatant or just accomplish a personal goal, this is the best way to do it.

Primary Mission VS Secondary Mission

One thing that comes up during missions, and when figuring out what your targets are, is the discovery of secondary targets, or secondary missions.  Keeping with the above example, let’s say that you mission is to lose thirty pounds, but let’s say that your secondary mission is to have a toned stomach.  (Another example would be, say you’re hunting the leader of a terrorist force, the primary objective would be to kill the leader, and the secondary objective would be to kill his second in command, etc.)

Your secondary mission is going to effect how you select and accomplish your targets.  Let’s say that one of your targets is to go to the gym and work out an hour a day.  Going to the gym and working out works on your primary target, but if not done appropriately it won’t help out with your secondary target.  So at the gym, a way to set yourself towards success in both would be to, when working out at the gym, do a series of exercises that focus on calorie burn and focus on building stronger abdominal muscles.


1)   Write down what your primary mission is.

2)   Select a series of targets that need to be reached in order to accomplish your mission.

3)   Use the CARVER system to see which targets are of the most importance.

4)   Decided if there’s a secondary mission.

5)   Figure out what primary targets correspond with secondary targets that would help with the accomplishment of the secondary mission.

6)   Use the CARVER system again.

7)   Accomplish the first target.

8)   Second Target

9)   Third Target

Mission Accomplished!

Looking for a good book on military targets and goals? Then check out the book “Unleash the Warrior Within,” by Richard Machowitz. It’s one of my favorites!

Related Posts:

The CARVER system Part 1

The CARVER system Part 2

I Will Never Accept Defeat.  I Will Never Quit.

What the Military Teaches About Self-Discipline

Best Of, Self Improvement / Healthy Living, Self Improvement / Healthy Living

The CARVER System For Goals – Part 2

Since my latest blog post about military time management, a lot of people have sent emails asking for a longer description of the military’s CARVER system.  So I decided to elaborate.

As stated in my previous post, the military’s system of time management is broken up into the CARVER system.

  • Criticality –the importance of a task.
  • Accessibility –is it easy to reach? Are the resources needed to do it readily available?
  • Return – What is the return?
  • Vulnerability –How long will it take?
  • Effect – Once the task is done, what will be the overall effect? This is slightly different than return. Will it have a bigger impact on the organization or the well-being of the individual?
  • Recognizability – finally, is the task clear and concise? No task can be done quickly and effectively with incomplete information.

Take your goals and rate them within the CARVER system.  Ex:  Say that you want to loose 20lbs, and you want to learn to speak French.  In the CARVER system, you would take the goals and start off by rating it within the Criticality category.  Let’s say that someone is more concerned with losing weight then learning French.  Losing weight may bet a rating of 4 and learning French may only get a rating of 2.  Then someone would rate their goals within the Accessibility category.  How easy is the goal to reach?  To lose 20lbs a person would have to buy new healthy food, they’ll have to get a gym membership or some type of weights.   To learn French a person may only need to purchase a few CD’s or a book.  The person would then continue within the rest of the categories and see where each goal rates.

(The higher score the better.)

Lose 20lbs Learn


Learn How to Cook Clean The


Criticality 4 2 4 3
Accessibility 2 4 3 5
Return 5 1 3 3
Vulnerability 2 1 3 5
Effect 5 2 4 2
Recognizability 4 3 3 3
Total: 22 13 20 21

So based on CARVER a person who has the above goals, should put their focus on losing 20lbs – that’s the most important goal with the highest reward; the next goal to be focuses on, or to be focused on simultaneously, would be cleaning the House – since it can be done quickest and easiest with the highest return.

The best thing about the system is that it allows you to objectively look at your goals and see which are the most important – compared to which are the easiest – compared to which produce the highest return.
Related Posts:

Part 1 of the CARVER system

Smaller Goals VS Larger Goals

What the Military Teaches About Self-Discipline

I Will Never Accept Defeat.  I Will Never Quit.

Best Of, Self Improvement / Healthy Living, Self Improvement / Healthy Living

Military Time Management Technique: The CARVER system

Usually we wish that there were more than 24 hours in a day, so that there are more waking hours for us to get our jobs and tasks done. Yet we see others who have as much work as we do, yet they still have plenty of time to have fun and do personal stuff like going to the beach or the mall. A good example of such people is the military. From sunup to sundown, they get things done like a well-oiled machine. They work like ants and get their tasks done like exercises, trainings and assigned chores. Tasks like cooking, paperwork, construction and even combat are done quickly and efficiently and sometimes almost simultaneously. How do they do it? The answer is time management.

Time management is not a new idea. The main concept is to prioritize the most important or most urgent tasks instead of spending a lot of time doing something that may be done later and risking non-submission of the more urgent things. But like many things, the military can do things faster and even more efficiently. In the military, time management works a little differently. In military time management, tasks are practically treated as combatants. The following are the things that need to be considered in military time management.

In military time management, most tasks that need to be carried out point toward a single objective. This objective needs to be clear and well-defined so as to put more urgency in the tasks that lead to it.

In military time management, it is also important to consider the resources that need to be used to accomplish the tasks. These resources also have to be well-defined so as to be used more efficiently.

After determining the objectives and resources, next is to determine the correct priority for all of the tasks ahead. Set which task is first, what resource to use and how much time there is to allocate.

Efficiency is the hallmark of the military. They employ a militarized version of time management based on the total effect of a certain goal or objective. An objective is separated into different aspects like criticality, accessibility, return, vulnerability, effect and recognizability or in short, CARVER.

The goal or task to be done is divided into the previously mentioned aspects and ranked from one to five or depending on the person. After ranking each concept, the ranks are summed up and the task with the highest sum gets to be done first (the CARVER time management system is the system that the Navy SEALS and Army Special Forces, have to become masters in).

For a better understanding of CARVER, let us briefly describe each aspect

  • Criticality – mainly gauges the importance of a particular task. Is it that important and has to be done immediately or can it be put off tomorrow or next week? If it needs to be done sooner rather than later, then it is given a higher rank.
  • Accessibility – The task may be critical but is it easy to reach? Are the resources needed to do it readily available? If the materials needed for the task has to be airlifted from some other state, then the task gets a lower rank.
  • Return – What will be the return after the particular task is done? Will it be a promotion, a commendation or a pat on the head? The higher the return, the higher the rank will be.
  • Vulnerability – Is the task critical and easily done with the available resources? How long can it be done? For tasks that take longer to complete, the lower the rank.
  • Effect – Once the task is done, what will be the overall effect? This is slightly different than return. Will it have a bigger impact on the organization or the well-being of the individual?
  • Recognizability – finally, is the task clear and concise? No task can be done quickly and effectively with incomplete information. Vague projects take a bit longer but you may have to figure them out as the military does if everything else scores high.

The system works with anything, not just military.  I use it all the time for school, work and writing.  It’s just a good tool to have when figuring out what task to take on.

Related Posts:

Part 2 of the CARVER system

Smaller Goals VS Larger Goals

I Will Never Accept Defeat.  I Will Never Quit.

What the Military Teaches about Self-Discipline.