Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Jer.1.5

 For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and hope. Jer. 29.11

 Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep, and laid the foundation upon rock; and when the flood arose, the stream broke against that house, and could not shake it because it had been well built. Lk. 6. 47-48
Proverb: Failing to plan is planning to fail.


            As a young man you joined the Claretians with the motive of becoming a zealous missionary in conformity with Jesus the evangeliser and join the rank of the Apostles, St. Anthony Mary Claret and many missionaries who gave themselves up for the vision and mission of Jesus. You know that good desires and fine intentions alone will not work.

Until you clearly define your personal purpose and intentions, it is difficult to focus your time, energy and resources to achieve your goal. Many good young men who began their vocational journey with lot of enthusiasm fell into mediocrity, lethargy and easy compromises with hedonistic values in course of time as a result of ignoring spiritual and human means to reach progressive integrity and consistency in life. There is a danger of floating through the stages of formation without ever having owned up responsibility for one’s own formation by merely being a good guy who follows the rules, does the duties, obeys the formators and is guided by the group values. When the time comes for taking personal stand in favour of one’s vocation in a context of contrary values, you may falter for want of interior strength.

God’s Project for us

 The project of our missionary life is primarily God’s project for humanity achieved in us with the full cooperation of our heart and soul. Our formative goal is clear: to become like Christ, the evangeliser, in the charismatic style of Claret for the glory of God and salvation of our brothers and sisters (CC 2, 10).

            We cooperate with the action of the Spirit in us through a holistic programme of formation in which various agents of formation harmoniously work together towards the goal of formation.

You, as a Claretian student, are an active agent of your own formative process. Drafting a Personal Project of formation and effectively implementing it is one of the important means of assuming responsibility for self formation. Both the community and personal projects are to be mutually enriching and be ordered to the realization of the mission of the community and the personal vocation of the individuals who form the community.

 Personal project and vocational growth

             Your personal project of formation finds a place only in a vocational setting, in your openness to set in motion a process to realize God’s plan in your life. It is a concrete way of accepting the gift of vocation with gratitude and making a meaningful response to it. You enter into a process of discernment and interiorization of vocational values and test them by practical application of them in every day life and see how they bear the evangelical fruits in you.

Through a proper plan of life you seek to discover how God wants you to live at each phase of formation and to respond to this call in joyful obedience to His will. As you progress in your life, you will encounter new aspects of your life which need to be integrated progressively into a single whole.

            Having a goal in life gives direction to all the forces that are present in you. You achieve integration and harmony of life in the measure you are tuned to the fundamental goal of your life . The experiences of the past, surprises of the present and hopes of the future as well as the tension of being individual and social, unique and similar, universal and particular, transcendent and immanent, saintly and sinful assume progressive synthesis and unification within a vocational project.

            When you journey ahead with your gaze fixed on a project to be realized, you will, on the one hand, find the peace and joy of walking with the Lord and, on the other hand, encounter many handicaps and limitations in you that may cause you to stumble on the road. Your clarity of goal can urge you to address them with courage, to work on yourself to face your inner struggles and make difficult decisions that are needed to realize your goal.

The call to make a personal project

            St. Claret, Our founder, himself set before him clear goals of his vocation and mission and used his retreats to review and revive his missionary life. As a seminarian in Vic Claret has begun a very planned life to progress spiritually (cf. Auto. 86). He reviewed and adapted his personal project during his retreats according to his life situation in order to be effectively faithful to his life mission. (cf. part V, Supplementary reading Autobiography). Realizing the usefulness of a plan of life Claret himself suggested one model for seminarians (cf. Works of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Vol. III. Selected Spiritual Writings pp. 350-353). Claret reached the zenith of his missionary spirituality and ministry by making use of simple and practical means of sanctification and service which he practiced in his everyday life right from his younger days.

            The General Chapter of 1991urged the need for “assiduous recourse to spiritual accompaniment, personal project and community discernment” as a means to “overcome mediocrity in our life style and what is “lacking in evangelical radicalism” (SW. 13.1, 3).

            General Plan of Formation proposes the drawing up and faithful fulfilment of a personal or growth project as a helpful means in vocational maturation (GPF 195, 484).

What is a personal Project:

          a prayerfully discerned plan of life appropriate to one’s age, stage of formation and context of mission in relation to one’s fundamental reason of existence.

          It includes a realistic description of the vocational goal for which one entered the congregation, the actual situation of life, and practical means to reach the vocational goal.

          It is like having a picture of a jigsaw puzzle before you begin to arrange the scattered pieces into the whole picture or having a building plan before you set the bricks to build an edifice.

Qualities required to draft and implement a personal project:

 Sense of direction and goal orientation. “If you do not know where you want to go, it does not matter which way you take”.

  1. Interior search for a meaning and a reason to live, to suffer and to die for in our congregation. “What do you ask of me O, Lord?”.
  2. A sense of responsibility and commitment to one’s own vocational maturation. “I have come to do your Will”.
  3. An urge to be prophetic in everyday life, to keep alive the fire of God’s love. “Lord, you have called me.”
  4. Capacity for deeper self awareness and a practical sense to put into practice one’s convictions and ideals. “Here am I.”
  5. Openness to listen to others and willingness to disclose oneself. “Speak, O, Lord.”
  6. Refusal to allow the Claretian spirit to be domesticated by consumerist values. “Nothing can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus”

Characteristics of a good personal project:

  • Personalized
  • Practical
  • Simple and clear
  • Well motivated, arising from a commitment to one’s own formation
  • Not laden with too many proposals
  • Coherent and harmonious dealing with all aspects of life
  • Reasonable, sufficiently difficult to achieve and demanding enough to involve the willing cooperation of the person.
  • In harmony with the community project

Drafting a personal project of formation

            In drafting a realistic personal project, you have to have a good grasp of your present situation, both your strengths and limitations at the present moment, and a reasonable clarity of your vocational goal, where you want to reach.

Phase one: My vocational values: Where do I want to go

  1. My vocational ideals:

      In a context of prayer and reflection, return to the circumstances that moved you to join the Claretians. Reflect on your early inspirations from your parents, parish priest, the religious motivation of your joining the congregation and the dream you cherish for your future. In the light of this write down a few sentences describing an ideal Claretian, a pen picture of your vision of what you want to become.

  1. The formative Word of God for me::

      Take another moment to look back to your life and remember those Bible passages that have touched your life or have special significance for you. The word of God that has shaped you in course of time. Write 3-5 passages of personal relevance to you.

     Bring to your mind those saints of the Church who have inspired you. Name them and write down the value that you admire in them.

  1. The congregational ideals:

Find another moment to read and reflect the first part of autobiography of Claret (nos.18-112)

Read also the section pertaining to your phase of formation (e.g. novitiate, formation of students etc.) from Constitutions, Directory, General Plan of Formation, provincial plan of formation Initiation to the Ministry of the Word and your community plan.

In the light of points 1-3, formulate the general objective for your personal project.

Phase two: My present situation: who am I now

      Before starting, resolve to be as honest as possible to pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses by naming them. (You may make use of the work sheet and the list of various aspects of life presented in appendices 1 &2)

  1. My strengths: Take a time of calm reflection to look at your life as it is and gratefully acknowledge the gifts and strengths you have. Write them down.
  2. My weaknesses and areas of concern: Look at your life as you are living now and pin down the areas of weakness or limitation which you need to take care of in order to reach your goal.

You may make use of the appendix to take a closer look at your life:

A useful Procedure:

 Here am I, Lord: My situation before the Lord.

After going through the various dimensions of life (see the appendix below) you may take an examination conscience to see where you find yourself at this moment of your life. It is useful to find some quiet time to be recollected in the presence of the Lord and ask yourself the following questions:

          Do I feel at ease within me about my way of living? On the whole, do I feel realized as a person, as a Christian and as a formandus?

          What aspects of my life cause problems? What is blocking me right now in my growth process? What is the Lord telling me through these events at this stage of my life?

          What aspirations draw me deeply within at this moment. What do I hope to attain? How am I going to attain it? What feelings and desires move me to desire for a change?

          What are the fears I have in this regard? What or whom do I fear in life?

First of all identify two or three significant positive and negative aspects in each of the dimensions (human, Christian and Claretian) which are decisive and which determine all the rest.

Identify the central theme or difficulty in each of the areas on the basis of what you have selected as influencing your life most at this moment. E.g. Some behavioural difficulties like shyness, being easily hurt by comments, strong need to win approval, jealousy etc. may point to the central theme of poor self acceptance. Irritability, outbursts of anger, difficulty to obey or dislike for superiors may point to a central theme of aggressiveness.

Secondly prioritise the central themes in each of the dimensions based on what affects mostly the basic direction of your life. You cannot work on all your difficulties at the same time. Choose a few of the most significant ones and work at them. E.g. difficulties in prayer life may be dealt with taking personal prayer as a priority for the moment.

It is important that you read your life events with a serene attitude to yourself, maintaining respect for yourself and the way the Lord leads you through your history. Remember, your life events and circumstances constitute your salvation history.

  • Become aware: Do not enumerate the facts and events in detail. Let yourself be guided by the spontaneous memory of those events that have resonance in your heart.
  • Name: Name your feelings and experiences in order to own them up
  • Analyse: Learn to read what is happening. See what lies behind those experiences. Allow the events to reveal to you their hidden meaning for you.
  • Relate: Find the connections which make sense in each of the events.
  • Take ownership: Own up to the whole of your life without losing self esteem.

The success of your planning is not so much in the techniques but in your capacity to face up to yourself in honesty and openness to the Spirit of the Lord with an attitude of docility.

Phase three: Formulating Specific Objectives: What do I aim at right now?

            Now is the moment to formulate realistic and specific objectives to address the areas of concern and affirm the strengths in order to attain the general objective or vocational goal of the particular stage of formation. You will have to avoid tendency to overdothings. It would be wise to propose objectives that are slightly difficult to achieve so as to engage your conscious efforts

Phase four: Decisions: What shall I do?

On the basis of the specific objectives make concrete decisions by free choice. They have to be realistic, practical, concrete and capable of being evaluated. Realistic decisions that can be implemented without undue struggle will work for you. Beware of unrealistic proposals taken at a moment of enthusiasm that would die out soon and along with them your efforts to progress in life too. E.g. You want to beat your ignorance of the word of God by deciding to read 3 chapters of the Bible a day. This may not work, if your are in the midst of a heavy schedule of study and you have a history of procrastination.

Phase five: Evaluation: How am I progressing

            Periodic evaluation of the project is an important part of a commitment to one’s growth. A project which is not evaluated is devaluated.

          Periodic evaluation and assessment of the project as at times of monthly recollection and retreat. Check if you have carried out your resolutions. If you have failed, it requires a closer look into the reasons of the failure. Ask yourself:

  1. What in me has contributed to the failure in implementing my decision? Procrastination, loss of enthusiasm?
  2. Have I analysed the problem in depth and understood it well?
  3. What are the aspects of the difficulty I have not attended to before?
  4. What more can I do to implement my decisions ?

          Discuss the plan and the progress you make with your formator or spiritual guide

          Write your daily journal and record your progress on the important decisions

          Use the spiritual means of examination of conscience, meditation and sacrament of reconciliation, to evaluate and progress in your vocational journey as projected in your plan.

          Occasional sharing in groups of trusted friends about your plan and the progress you make.

Effectiveness and Common Problems:

            Drafting a personal project and following it up as a guide for your vocational journey is one of the most effective tools for growth. It has the advantage of using your own inner powers for your own advantage. When you learn to take care of your growth process and take responsibility for your life, you develop better capacity to deal with difficult moments in future. The whole process calls for a constant communication with the Lord in prayer, with yourself in reflection and with your formators in their accompaniment. It develops your capacity for honest and authentic relationships.

            A common difficulty is procrastination which slowly undermines the implementation of decisions. Many begin enthusiastically and follow up the project for sometime and slowly give up. A few get discouraged by failures and eventually give up rather than confront their failures and learn from them.

A project is not a magical formula to effect growth. It is as good as the commitment of the one who implements it. It is at best a useful instrument for progress at your disposal.

            Often serious problems that affect vocational living have underlying unconscious motivations which are not easily discernible to the person. Hence objectives and decisions in those areas can be at a superficial level and changes may not occur even after repeated efforts. A serious effort to grow in your self awareness and recourse to persons who can help you to gain insight (counsellors and psychologists) can be useful in this regard.


You are in the Claretian formation process as a result of your quest to respond to God’s call. God has a plan for your life. Because of you many shall be blessed. Let us make this vocational growth a thrilling inner adventure or self conquest for the Kingdom of God. Though it may lack the glamour and applause of secular adventures, it offers the joy of finding the hidden and real treasure. Your project of life would tremendously help you in this search. As you progress through the formation stages, you will be growing in wisdom and favour with God and with His people. When more and more of you will be conquered for Christ, the ups and downs of your life with its tears of heart rending cry, ear breaking laughter and the stillness of shocking moments become the various musical notes of the song of gratitude sung in the lyre of your life. May the model of St. Claret urge you to respond to the invitation of the Lord with a generous and vigilant heart.

work sheet 1. My present situation




Central theme


Human dimension





Christian dimension





Claretian dimension





Relational (community)





Study and work






Work sheet 2: Objectives of life


General Objective: ……….

Area of life

Specific Objectives

Human dimension


Christian dimension


Claretian   dimension


Study and work



 Work sheet 3: Action steps


Specific Action steps:

Area of life

Specific Objectives

Human dimension


Christian dimension


Claretian   dimension




Study and Work



Work sheet 4. Action plan


Area of life




Human dimension

Christian dimension




Study & work


Work sheet 5. Evaluation

Area of life

Objectives met

Objectives not met



Human dimension

Christian dimension

Claretian dimension


Study & work


Appendix 1

Human and relational dimension

My body: Physical health, rest, sleep, free time, my way of relaxing, preferred entertainments, their impact in my life, games

 My person: sense of self, self affirmation, assertiveness, autonomy, self respect,

Self-acceptance, self esteem

Affectivity: outlook on sexuality, management of sexual impulses, identity as a man. experience of sexual orientation, affective maturity

Relational attitudes: trust, honesty, openness

Present crisis and difficulties. way of tackling it.

Authenticity of motivations, ways of problem solving

Cultivation of talents, formation of skills, pastime hobbies

 My Relationships:

Understanding and acceptance of the others and their limitations

Interpersonal relationships, honest and deep communication,

Fear of failure, need to please others, facing criticisms

Domination, subjugation, victimization of self

My community: sense of belonging – What do I get from my community or what can I contribute to it. Quality of living together, collaboration or competition, communion

Community celebrations

Community tasks and duties

collaboration in activities, initiative to take care of community needs

Membership feeling: family member, hostel student, hired servant, watchman, visitor

Mutual feeling: friend, brother, loner, indifferent, victim, critic, beggar, patient

Hospitality, attitude to guests, time spent in visiting and receiving visitors

 My Study: commitment to study, methods of study, organization of time, use of library, reading and writing habits. Personal study and group study, motive for study

General knowledge, news paper reading, watching News

 Work: Meaning of manual work. Willingness and generosity for manual work

Community timetable

Way of living personal freedom, responsibility

Personal accompaniment, care for each other Attitude and relationship with authorities. Openness to share hopes and disappointments with formators. Kind of relationship with formators

Holidays: way of presenting self to people, where and how days are spent. Most important activities of holiday time, religious life and prayer life during holidays

Appendix 2

Christian and charismatic dimension

My religious experience:   prayer, faith life, religious formation

Liturgical year: Eucharist, liturgy of hours

Meditation, spiritual reading

Lectio divina, personal prayer

Monthly recollection, annual retreat

Interior and exterior silence

My Liturgy of life: sense of union with God, presence of God

My intimacy with Christ

Trust in the providence of God, leaving to be guided by God’s will

Capacity for solitude alone with the Alone, sense of gratitude,

Spirituality of work

My vowed life:

Chastity: capacity to love others with the heart of Jesus, with the love of God

Poverty: God as the true richness and security of my life

Obedience: interior freedom to be led where God wants me to go

My Claretian life: my love and appreciation of Claretian Charism

My relationship with Claret and Claretian saints

Study of Claretian materials

My daily contact with constitutions and Claretian study materials

My relation to Mary, celebration of Claretian feasts

My life as a Claretian

My Church: My sense of the Church: hierarchy, people of God

My self-perception in the Church: son, critic,   onlooker, defender

Knowledge of the Church documents, relationship with local Church

Concern for the poor and suffering in my area

Interest in spiritual and theological topics.

 Apostolate: attitude to ministry, preferred recipients of ministry, collaboration in ministry

Preparation for ministry.

Openness and dialogue with the culture of the place and emerging modern culture.

Appendix 3

Tips for the animator

  1. Drafting the personal project itself could be a moment of grace and growth for yourself and for the formandi. Before you begin the process, take time to understand the wisdom behind it and learn the procedure.
  2. Prepare a personal project for yourself, if you have not made one yet. If you have one, evaluate it in the light of this presentation, add your own insights to improve upon what is presented here. What you have not experienced and what you are not convinced of, you cannot impart to any one else.
  3. Choose appropriate and sufficient time for the drafting of a personal project.   e.g. a day of monthly recollection, formation conferences for at least 3 evenings for formulating personal project etc. Give due time for each of the phases of the personal project.
  4. Approximate time required is 8 hours. Do it in a context of prayer with due accompaniment. Guided meditations, exercises etc. could be made use of for better results.
  5. The presentation here may not be at the grasping level of the formandi of all stages of formation. Animators are to choose, modify and apply the principles and methods according to level of the formation group.
  6. The drafting of a personal project for the first time requires more time and closer accompaniment. Subsequent years may require the same seriousness, but lesser time and guidelines. A simple schema of a personal project is also given in appendix.
  1. Experiential group games could be used to introduce the need for personal project. e.g. give the students   puzzle of picture arrangement from scattered pieces. To one group you may give the model of the picture to be assembled (it comes with the puzzle kit) and to the other no model. A variation of this game is to give the model after some time of group work to assemble the picture without the aid of a model. Discuss the impact of having a project in front when you work at something. There are other group games that could be used.

A joke

            The father wanted to get some paperwork done before he took his son to the park. To keep his son occupied until he finished his work, he tore a picture of the world out of a magazine, and then tore it into little pieces. He told his son when he had finished putting the puzzle together, they would go to the park. Expecting this to take his son quite some time to accomplish, he was surprised when his son returned shortly thereafter with the completed puzzle. The father asked his son, “How were you able to finish the puzzle so quickly?” His son answered him saying “there’s a picture of a man on the other side, and when I put the man together, the pieces of the world just fell into place!”

A story

A sage was known never to miss his aim in archery even from a distance of three hundred feet. One day he took his beloved disciple to a forest to teach a vital lesson for life. He kept a rose on the center of the trunk in a distant tree and asked.   “How far am I from the rose?”
“May be about a hundred feet” .
“Do you think I can make it?”.
“Certainly, I have never seen you missing your mark”.
“Well, now look.” He took a handkerchief to cover his eyes and stood firm on the ground holding the bow and arrow. He carefully stretched the bow and held the arrow aiming directly at the rose and released it skillfully.

The arrow struck the large oak with a thud missing its mark by a large difference. Turning to the astonished disciple the sage said:
“Learn this lesson for your life. You will never be able to hit a target that you cannot see.”

Each day a formator makes deposits in the memory banks of the formandi

It is good to see ourselves as others see us. Try as we may, we are never able to know ourselves fully as we are, especially the evil side of us. This we can do only if we are not angry with our critics but will take in good heart whatever they might have to say.   –Mahatma Ghandi

Dimensions of Formation

Formative areas



1. Physical health


2. Self- Discipline


3. Self-awareness (personal project)


4. Communication (relationship, leadership)


5. Intellectual (study methods, reading etc)


6. Talents (Music, Sports, speech etc.)


7. Sexual integration


8. Emotional balance (anger, sadness)


9. Language skills


10. Frustration tolerance, joyful renunciation




1. Discernment


2. Personal faith


3. Personal prayer, meditation


4. Community prayer


5. Leading prayer, faith sharing


6. Apostolate


7. Christian doctrine


8. Sacraments


9. Virtues


10 Relation to church




1. Belongingness to the Congregation


2. Word of God in my formation


3. Founder in my life, Claretian heroes


4. Growing in Evangelical counsels


5. Claretian documents


6. Mary in my life


7. Eucharist in my life


8. My community life


9. Inculturation of Charism


10 Universality, openness to new missions



Formulating Personal Project

a simple scheme

            Each one of us has entered the Claretian community because we experience a personal call from God in the depth of our being and we want to respond to it by a conscious and responsible involvement in our formation process. We want that all aspects of our life are integrated and move towards a committed and joyful Claretian life after the model of Claret. The personal project is an exercise of a student’s responsible commitment to his vocational growth. You may follow the following steps to formulate one if you are not used to personal project or update annually your working project.

Step 1. Find a time of silence and interior recollection and place yourself in the presence of the Lord to be filled by His spirit. (You may contextualize visualizing the meeting of Jesus and his disciples in Jn.1. or any preferred call narratives). You may invoke the holy spirit to illumine your mind and heart and place your whole life and all that is happening in you in His presence. Become aware of how it affects you.

Step 2. You may allow yourself to be captured by the presence of Jesus who looks deep into your heart and in the presence of the Lord ask yourself what He wants of you. Think of the inner aspirations and the ideals you cherish in your vocational journey. What kind of a Claretian do you want to become? What kind of a Claretian student do our constitutions and documents look for in you in the context your present life? Write down in your own words your ideal of a student at your stage of formation. It is your General objective.

Step. 3. Bring to your mind each dimension of your life (human, Christian, Claretian) and in the presence of the Lord scan through your life with regard to each dimension.

Identify 2 or 3 points in each dimension in which you find you have grown or made “success.” Write them down and spend a few minutes in thanks and praise.

Now ask yourself which area of your life the Lord is challenging you to work at more during the present stage of formation. Identify two or three significant aspects in each of the three dimensions. Write this down as your present situation and spent a few minutes to see how it affects your vocational growth process and ask the Lord for strength. If it is an area which negatively affects the life of others, think of the impact of that aspect of you on them and place your feelings before the Lord.

Step 4. Now place each of the identified aspect of your life in relation to your goals (general objective) and ask how you find yourself in relation to the ideal of a Claretian in your heart.

It is important that the possible disparity that may exist between your ideal and the present situation does not dishearten you, but rather challenges you to work towards your own growth with all help available. Ask yourself what changes you like to happen in you in order to be in conformity with your general objective. Write them down as specific objectives.

Step 5. Taking each of the aspects of life where you want to effect a change, think of realistic and concrete action steps for making the difference. Imagine yourself carrying out those steps in concrete: what, when, where, how etc. Write them as lines of action

Step 6. Imagine your life in the future and decide on when and how you intend to evaluate the progress made or failures incurred in it and look into the possible causes to proceed further.


 1. Beware of the tendency to go to excesses: laxity and rigidity in implementing the lines of action. An elastic band will break if you pull too much. If you don’t pull at all, it does not give you the needed stretch.

2. Framing the questions rightly is important at all levels of your journey. Wrong questions may take you to wrong direction.

When you find a problem, if you face it by asking whether you have vocation or not, you have only two answers: Yes or no. None of those answers help you to face and grow through the difficulty. If you ask how you can deal with this difficulty meaningfully, it may open ways to make progress.

3. Unrealistic objectives and decisions impede progress. For example, if you decide that you will not get angry or have sexual thoughts, you will not cease to have either of them. It is a sterile decision. If you think of ways of managing your anger or sexual impulses appropriately, you may make much progress.

4. There are always deeper roots to your difficulties than what you can think of. Therefore do not be self-satisfied by your own diagnosis. Deepen your awareness into your own mystery by taking advantage of experienced persons around you (e.g. formator, spiritual guide, counselor) and the many tools available today for deeper self awareness and personal spiritual growth.

 A lecturer was giving a lecture to his student on stress management. He raised a glass of water and asked the audience, “How heavy do you think this glass of water is?”
The students’ answers ranged from 20g to 500gm.

“It does not matter on the absolute weight. It depends on how long you hold it.

If I hold it for a minute, it is OK. If I hold it for an hour, I will have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you will have to call an ambulance.

It is the exact same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”

“If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, we will not be able to carry on, the burden becoming increasingly heavier.”

“What you have to do is to put the glass down, rest for a while before holding it up again.”

We have to put down the burden periodically, so that we can be refreshed and are able to carry on.

A Pessimist sees Difficulties in every Opportunity
An Optimist sees Opportunities in every Difficulty