Today Pep Ruckpanich, ’17, is thankful for his health, his education, and for a weekend spent with friends. Writing down his gratitude has become a daily ritual for this finance major turned entrepreneur. The process began in the spring when he started listening to The Tim Ferriss Show podcast. During each episode the host interviews world-class performers and deconstructs the tools, tactics, and routines listeners can use in their daily lives.

Ruckpanich paid close attention when Tony Robbins, the popular author, philanthropist, and life coach, was interviewed and detailed his morning rituals. Hearing from Robbins impacted Ruckpanich so much that he made a pit stop on his way to Florida during spring break to attend a Robbins’ seminar, “Unleash the Power Within.”

Ruckpanich spent four 15-hour days facing his self-limiting beliefs and fears while learning techniques and actions for overcoming these obstacles to achieve his goals. He joined 5,000 other attendees at the culmination of the first day to walk on burning coals. “This activity symbolized the ultimate act of facing your fears. If you’re in the right state of mind, you can achieve anything, and this was a simple way to illustrate that,” Ruckpanich shared. “I woke up and wanted to live my life to the fullest—instead of having life happen to me, I wanted life to happen for me.”

Ruckpanich began making small changes, reading, mediating, and dedicating time to write down things he is grateful for each day. “If I take time to appreciate what I have and realize how thankful I am each morning it sets the tone for the rest of my day,” he said. “When you physically write down your gratitude, it means a lot more to you.”

It wasn’t long before he began making bigger changes, motivated in part by Professor Eric Martin’s New Venture Creation class. “I wanted to have a place to keep track of my progress toward my goals—a daily journal to measure my achievements,” Pep shared. He worked on creating a quantifiable system that measured daily progress toward achieving his goals and dreams in an effort to create habits that would help him along the way instead of just aimlessly working toward them. “The problem most people face is that we have all these lofty goals, but no actionable steps to achieve them. Seeing your progress is crucial and one of the most common patterns you see in successful people,” he said. “I’m a finance guy, so I had to develop a system with numbers that would resonate with me.”

Professor Martin’s course allows students to work on a new business idea and Ruckpanich used this assignment to develop The Book of Habits, a daily planner that focuses on the importance of actionable steps toward achieving lofty goals through small, actionable steps, weekly challenges and rewards, and a show of gratitude,” he shared of his philosophy behind creating the planner. “So many times we are focused on the goal and not the process. You learn more when you focus on the process. Goals are meaningless without a concrete plan to achieve them, and showing gratitude helps maintain progress in the face of adversity.”

As Ruckpanich began using his product, he realized its value for high school students. He reached out to his alma mater, St. Andrew’s School in Delaware, to gauge interest. “They were excited about it, and they decided to replace their regular planners with The Book of Habits,” he said. He recently visited the school to introduce the planner to students and explain best practices. He hopes students find value in the planner and are able to go after what they want in life with help from The Book of Habits process.

Ruckpanich is originally from Thailand, but he wants to stay in the U.S. after graduation. He wants to inspire and help people pursue their dreams and passions, though he isn’t sure how his journey will unfold due to the difficulty of obtaining a working visa in America. In the meantime, he is focusing on each day’s importance and the steps he is taking to get there.

Take a glimpse inside The Book of Habits