Our good friend Lina Mileskaite has neatly summarised each of the 7 Habits included in this inspirational book.
This month we are focusing on Habits 2 and 3:
Begin with the end in mind and be your own leader.
Habit 2 is based on our ability to imagine things that we cannot at present see with our eyes. If we are not making a conscious effort to imagine our perfect future self or the life we would like to be living, then we allow other people and circumstances decide the life that we are going to live and the person that we are going to become.
This type of visualisation, which is directed towards the end goal, gives us a strategic vision and guidance. It allows us to align our every move, decision or project, that we choose to be involved in, in such a way that would enable us to move straight towards our goal or our perfect self.
In order for it to work, we need to think deeply of what we want to become and what personal, moral, and ethical guidelines we will need to follow in order to be that type of person. This created compass will not only provide the direction, but will also make us question everything we do — are our activities and habits bringing us closer to our ideal self or life that we visualise, or is it taking us further away from it? Eventually, we will start doing more of the things that do bring us closer, and less of the things that don’t.
Another important thing is to know our stance on various matters and also our values. It’s very likely that our opinions, values and goals contradict our current behaviour and how we approach certain things. But it’s a process. A process of acknowledgement that we need to work with ourselves on a daily basis in order to get where we want to be.
Covey suggests us to look into four areas of our life in order to understand ourselves better:
Security: our sense of worth, identity, self-esteem, personal strength and emotional anchorage.
Guidance: our source of direction in life, our standards and principles or criteria that we base on our everyday decisions and doings.
Wisdom: our perspective on life, our sense of balance, understanding of how various parts and principles apply to each other. It’s our judgement, discernment, and comprehension.
Power: our capacity to act, our strength and potency to accomplish something, our vital energy to make choices and decisions, and our ability to overcome deeply embedded habits in order to cultivate new, more effective, ones.
We should check the areas where we are lacking and aspire to improve. Once all these interdependent factors are harmonised and enlivened by each other, we create in ourselves a noble and balanced character.
He also recommends writing a personal mission statement. Basically, we should visualise what is it that we want for our future and map out the steps we need to go through in order to get there. It should focus on three main areas:
- What we want us to be like (our character),
- What we want to be doing or have done in the future (our contributions and achievements) and
- What values and principles should lead us throughout our life (values, principles, beliefs)
Our mission statement should always be based on correct principles –
deep and fundamental truths, too. Only these principles can enable us to become proactive individuals and successful in making correct daily decisions. Such mission statement will ensure (if checked on a regular basis and updated as needed) that we will have a direction in life, which will enable us to set correct short- and long-term goals for ourselves and make decisions that align with them.
Another important thing to note is that our personal mission statement should flow from our circle of influence. We should think about the areas of our life that we want to improve and have the power to do so.
With a good mission statement, we will no longer be affected by the environment, our circumstances, or attitudes, behaviours and actions of other people. And the best thing that comes out of it? We will find out what success and happiness mean to us personally. We will no longer need to follow someone else’s designed success formula as we will have our own — which might be very different than we thought before!
Ready to write a mission statement? There are some tips that might help you:
- Prepare by analysing where you are now and in what areas you are lacking. Once you know what it is that limits you from living the dream, you will have an easier time visualising what it is that you really want to do and to be like. Take notes for several days before you actually start writing it.
- Once you start writing, make sure to include different areas of your life: how you want to be like as a friend/family member/employee/co-worker/boss/leader/etc. as these will usually suggest different characteristics that you find important.
- Think whether you need to practise new skills or adopt new habits in order to live your dream life. Thinking about your achievements, goals and contributions will also allow you to think what type of person you should be more like in order to achieve these things.
- Your personal statement should be personal, positive, in the present tense, visual and emotional. Make it short and visualise it for a few days before writing it.
- Once you write it — look at it regularly. You may need to change it or remind yourself of what it is that you are trying to achieve. Even better, visualise this personal statement frequently, you will remember it better and find it more useful as a result.
Put first things first and prioritise what is the most important.
“What is one thing that, if done on a regular basis, would bring a massive positive difference in your personal and professional life?”
In Habit no. 3, Covey urges us to think about this question and answer it to ourselves honestly. Knowing this ‘what’ can make our daily routines so much more effective!
The trick is that we need to prioritise not only urgent and the most pressing tasks, but also the activities, which when done daily, can bring real results in our lives.
This is what Covey suggests: create a time management matrix with four quadrants: quadrant 1 — urgent and important tasks, quadrant 2 — important but not urgent tasks, quadrant 3 — urgent but not important tasks, and quadrant 4 — neither important nor urgent tasks.
Identifying the tasks that need to be done in a day is an important part of effective time management. However, while the majority of people either focus on quadrant 1 or quadrant 3 and 4 (heavy procrastinators), we should, in fact, focus on quadrant 2 — tasks that may not be as urgent, but important for our future success.
Quadrant 2 deals with such things as studying, building relationships, exercising, developing our expertise, reading books, etc. This quadrant is extremely important, but very few people prioritise such tasks because they are not pressing. We should, however, place a strong importance on our personal advancement and prioritise the tasks that contribute to our mission, values and goals above all others.
Effective people make an effort to stay out of quadrant 3 and 4. They also shrink their tasks in quadrant 1 and focus all of their attention on quadrant 2. We should do it, too!
In order to stay in this quadrant, we will need to learn how to say ‘no’. We will need to refuse to deal with the majority of tasks in quadrants 3 and 4 and select only the most important tasks to do from quadrant 1. In order to shrink quadrant 1 — we should work on preventing things from becoming ‘urgent’, which can be done by placing various preventative activities in our quadrant 2. That is, if we know that something will need to be done at some point in the future — we should start by preparing in advance (quadrant 2) rather than leave it till it becomes urgent (quadrant 1).
Our independent will to follow through with what we have planned can be measured by our personal integrity — the value we place on ourselves. This will is the essence of our proactive growth, which enables us to do things when we don’t even feel like doing them. This is more of a promise to ourselves. A promise that we will do our best in achieving our goals, because we respect ourselves and because we know we can.
This article was originally posted by Lina Mileskaite on her website: https://www.linamileskaite.com/
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R Covey. (Simon and Schuster). If you’d to read the whole book, you will find it here: