There have been hundreds of people who have written books on habits, many of which are incredibly good and others are not perhaps as insightful. What is important, is that you recognize the importance of truly acknowledging YOUR HABITS because you cannot do much about a bad habit if you lack awareness, and adopting a GOOD habit takes discipline. All choices we make either consciously or by default. Which one are you choosing?
Perhaps my favorite book on habits is that of Stephen Covey, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” I cannot begin to tell you the many ways that book changed my life, and, actually the lives of others through me. In the early pages of the book I remember Stephen counseling a friend who was informing Stephen about his marriage breaking up. He suggested he no longer loved his wife, giving a few examples of how they had grown apart. Stephen’s response, not once, not twice but over and over…”Well, then just love her.” The husband was perplexed! You see, love is a verb not just a noun. What actions can you take starting today to truly show your spouse you love her/him? When you do these actions everyday (as a habit) guess what happens to the emotional state? Exactly! What insight! And just how many times have I used that in marriage counseling?!?!
But Covey’s book has not been the one I refer to too many people as it is at a level that most people have a difficult grasping. Here is a brief simplification of his 7:
- Be proactive. Take the initiative to take positive action no matter the circumstances. In other words, do not wait for things to get better before you get better. Also do not allow others to control you. What action can you take now to make things better? Waiting is NOT AN OPTION!
- Begin with the end in mind. Visualization of what you are going to create actually makes it more likely you will do it. How many of us just start doing without the clarity on exactly where we are committed to go? I don’t need to ask how that is “working” for you!
- First things first. Prioritizing our activities makes all the difference. Don’t make the small things the BIG things! We hang out working on the small stuff…did you ever hear “Don’t sweat the small stuff?” I say, “Don’t focus on the small stuff when the big stuff is truly just waiting for you!” So, today look at your schedule and put your time in the most important things and those with the priority to build into the big things. Commit to be great on the building blocks and the result will be automatic!
- Think win-win. Yes, that is my true love…to support people into changing their mindsets to positive from all the negative programming they have collected over the years. Many people can’t even believe they will win. If you cannot get their buy in to win, you have no chance of getting to WIN WIN. That second level is to think beyond your “victory” to how can I come up with a way where it will allow all of us to WIN? When you can truly work out situations where everyone wins, now you will have endless success not just in your business, but in all your relationships.
- Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Now this one will change everyone’s life in NO TIME! We have no place in our lives where we learn how to truly listen…that is unless we go on to graduate school in psychology or counseling. So, what does that mean? We end up listening just like our parents as that is where we learned how to listen. And how did they listen? All I can tell you is that my mother only believed she was wrong maybe once!! So why bother listening to any other viewpoint if you “have to be right.” Yikes, that is one of those awful limiting beliefs…need to be right. I know as I adopted it directly form mom. Let’s dissect that for a second as it sounds okay. UNTIL you come to the realization that no other person in the world had your same exact life: same family, same town, same education, same family, same romances, same jobs, same faith, same…are we catching on yet?? You see, all of our beliefs are heavily influenced by all of our experiences. They are for the most part “not right or wrong” but we tend to give them right and wrong because why would we believe them if they were wrong? So, why not look at our beliefs for what they are: “just where I am today, in my process of achieving greater awareness,” with utmost willingness to grow in our understandings the rest of our lives!
- Synergize. Who are we to think we can do it on our own? No one has maximized results by doing it on their own. We cannot be our best without surrounding ourselves with people who will be open and honest, give us great feedback, add to our ideas to make them better, so we are constantly “finetuning, perfecting ourselves” and maximizing the results. If you tap into others’ strengths, then one plus one equal three. The combination of working with quality people truly allows you to “change the math.” You will create things not possible before.
- Sharpen the Sword. Constantly investing in self to be the best is a labor of life that should never stop. I am 65 and still reading 2-3 books per month, fine-tuning my approaches to almost everything in life as the growth cycle never ends…unless you choose to end it. This principle comes from the Far Eastern concept of Kaizen: continuous improvement. But my query is WHY? Why would you not be on a path to be the best of you? Perhaps some do not see they have any weaknesses…then I suggest you get some open, honest feedback from people you admire. And even if you have a hard time on that discovery path, ask yourself. Somewhere inside you will discovery shortcomings that could be better. Others have just given up. To those I say “never too late to start!”
To close, I will share a few perhaps easier concepts which are well-established habits to support you in many ways as a great foundation. These are core to the above 7 for your success in life so develop the discipline around these:
- Choose health in all you do. Eat only the natural foods that truly support your body. Work out daily or at least 3-4 times per week for cardiovascular health and do resistance training.
- Look for the positive in everything. You and only you can control your mind.
- Cut yourself some slack…every mistake is merely an opportunity to grow.
- Celebrate the wins. Feel free to reward yourself for WINS.
- Manage your time. You see, time is truly your only limited asset. The time you are taking to read this blog you will never get back! So, use the information to change your life.
Here’s to your Success!!