Self-determination allows you to take control of your future

April 18, 2005
In 1992 someone named Wehmeyer coined a definition of the concept of self-determination acting as a causal agent in one's life and making choices and decisions regarding one's quality of life free from undue external influence or interference.There are a lot of pieces to that definition. I routinely assume that people already are rational, have the ability to act, and act in a manner that improves their quality of life. But, you just never know. Reading the definition a second time, I wondered about those external influences and interferences. I wondered if working for a living qualifies as either. But, I digress. Let's get back to exploring self-determination and running your own life.Taking controlWimps don't get or expect royal treatment. It seems that if one is to claim a right to enjoy the benefits of self-determination, one will need to assert that right against those darned stifling influences and interferences. Yes, even a wimp can assert a right to self-d without interfering with someone else's similar right. It looks to me like assertive communication is one key to not appearing like an overbearing jerk or whiney child when you defend your right.Alberti and Emmons wrote a book on assertive behavior in 1978. If you will please point your machine at, you will find their working definition of assertiveness, the three barriers to self-assertiveness, ten key points about assertive behavior, and more.Be sure to check out the 35 questions in the assertiveness inventory and then learn the components of assertive behavior.Another guide to assertive behavior is found at The self test mentioned at the end of the piece refers to the test the students take to verify comprehension of the material. It is not a test to check you level of assertiveness. So, now that you have what it takes to take control gently but firmly, let's move on to bigger and better things.Guidelines for successful interactionsEveryone processes information in their own unique manner. This varied approach to info processing makes everyone's personality unique. It is these highly varied personalities you will deal with when you assert your rights.The reference shelves of the Web are full of theories about different personality types, take my word for it. However, my favorite way to make sense of the intracacies of human behavior is the Meyer-Briggs personality inventory. It attempts to sort folks into one of 16 buckets on the basis of four temperment types, each with four variations. I went through the exercise formally several years ago. It was enlightening to see how my personality type, which I thought right on target, stands in relation to the other 15 types.Back in 1984, Keirsey developed a "temperment sorter" that is similar to the appraoch used in the M-B. Keirsey's sorter is supposed to give similar results. An on-line version of Keirsey's test appears at It consists of 70 multiple-choice questions about behaviors and feelings that make you comfortable. Since there are only two choices for each question, you can zip through the test and submit your responses for rapid analysis and interpretation. You, too, can find out into which of the 16 buckets you fall. And, no, I am not going to tell you the results of my personality testing exercise.The next stepNow that you know the appropriate way to assert your rights on the basis of someone's personality, you must figure out what you are going to do with this self-d business. You certainly can't be working for a living and claim to be self-determinant. But, we live in a capitalist country so you still need something that resembles money. You want to be living off your investments. You do have investments, don't you? I know of a couple of sites you might want to check.One is supported by The American Association of Individual Investors. This organization publishes a monthly magazine that discusses technical analysis, fundamental analysis, philosophies and theories to use when building you portfolio, tax avoidance ideas, starting a portfolio, and other information. You are going to need this and more if you expect to go your own way unencumbered by those pesky external influences and interferences. Unfortunately, you need to be a memeber of the organization to get the magazine. Fancy that!So, I suggest that you visit to get a feel of what they are about. If you are already a member of AAII, you can get into the nitty-gritty stuff on the site by entering your member number found on the mailing label on your AAII Journal. Non-members get a more superficial tour of the site. Some of the features of this site include  various forms of education about investing, research into the relevant numbers needed to intelligently pick investments, message boards for posting questions, computerized investing and portfolio analysis, and a list of events AAII is supporting. This one is worth investigating, maybe even joining.Some other finance sites (with little comment)Your friends at Ohio State University invite you to visit their Virtual Finance Library where you will find information for "personal and institutional investors." How's that for a dichotomous approach to Web site content? Go to to get the index page covering a variety of investment topics. Think of some term or phrase applicable to investing and I bet you will find it there. Clicking on any of them takes you deeper into the site.Then there is the Guide to Personal Finance hosted by the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga found at The part I liked was the stock market charts. Although I did not explore this part exhaustively, it appears that you can get a chart of price as a function of date going back as much as 25 years. Some of the links you see at this site lead to commercial ventures that would like for you to send them money. That is contrary to the idea of self-determination. You want someone else to send you money. So, vote with your mouse.The Institute for Economical Cash Economy, a Web site based in Germany, hosts a page called Finance on the WWW at This one is a bit more commercial than the last one, but there are still some pearls here if you have the time to muck about.How much does self-determination cost?It does not make sense to do the same old thing and claim to be a self-determining person. Maybe you should be living somewhere else, a location that pleases you to the very core or your being. Check out the International Salary Calculator that is found at This Web site allows you to indicate the city from which you are coming and the city to which you are going. Enter your current salary and punch the button. Then it gives you the equivalent salary in the destination city. The site is hosted by some folks involved in real estate so the site also asks you if you are interested in listing your home. Now you know what it is going to cost to maintain that self-determinant standard of living when you move.Another set of 7 habitsAlthough, we search the Web so that you don't have to, another outcome of embracing self-determination could be not wanting to read the drivel that results from the monthly Web searches that I give you. Assert yourself and do your own Web searching. But, be aware that it could be a time-consuming exercise if you are not efficient about it.So that you are prepared to face this daunting and thankless task, Tauber and Kienan provide you with "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Surfers plus 3 for total control freaks." Go to Printing the document gives you 20 pages of solid tips for searching the Web. It matters not whether you use the Microsoft or Netscape browser, the paper tells you how to soup up both software packages. In fact, Habit 2 talks about the rationale for having both installed on you machine.While you are fine-tuning your browser, you might want to download a nice piece of software that runs behind your browser. The software is Alexa. It provides additional information about the Web page you are viewing in a toolbar like thing at the bottom of the screen. It tells you, for instance, who owns the Web site, the relative amount of activity on the Web page, the number of links around the Web that point to the page in question, and more. You can find Alexa, amazingly enough, at where you can download a self-extracting file to be launched with your file manager.One nice thing about Alexa is the archives of the Web. It seems that every once in a while, their server takes a "photograph" of the entire Web and stores it on some dozen terabytes of storage. A prodigious effort, no? Well, it's worth the effort. Do you get those "404-Not Found" errors when you look for some of the Web sites I mention in this series of article? Ah yes, you say. Now it's Alexa to the rescue. You activate the archive feature and it queries those terabytes and finds the Web page as it once existed.Nothing is lost. You can even remove your entire Web site but later Alexa will still know what you had there once. Here's a tip--don't post something if you are going to be embarrassed by it later. Alexa remembers everything! And Alexa is indiscriminate about who sees the information. Now, for something completely different.ErrataYou know how it goes sometimes--you try to be diligent and, suddenly, nothing you do works out correctly. Yes, indeed, folks we had a typo or two and some other problems in the January column on language resources. A tip of the hat to Mike Brazil, Rick Hamlet, Tom Schneberger, and Hal Bentley, among others, for letting me know the errors of my ways with the language. On the other hand, gosh, it's flattering to think that someone actually reads this material.Well, this is what went wrong. Everything! Strunk on the Web should use "bartleby" in the URL instead of "bartelby" as was published. To get your hands on Chapter 3 and 4 of the NASA material, get rid of the "www" in the published URL. While you are at it, ditch the "www" in the URL for the University of Waterloo site. Getting to the foreign languages at the University of Maine is much easier if you substitute "resource.html" in the URL where I published it as "resources.html." When you get to the Web site, read the disclaimer before you start trying to translate to and from English. Notice, also, the purpose of the hyperlinked words "tell us." The good folks at the U of Maine needs to know about bad links more than I need to know about them.Okay, so I goofed it this time. Let me make it up to you. Bartlett's Familiar Quotations is at Oh yes, remember those 7 Habits I mentioned above. Check out the seventh under the heading Going global where it mentions another translation Web site. If that is not enough, then go visit I don't want to leave you with any residual undecipherable text that prevents you from becoming a self-determining human being. Now, go in peace and stop flogging me over this matter.