The message that I’m going to give you here is a simple one….
Keep engaging in the same habits and you’ll get the same results
Engage in different habits you’ll get different results
So if you are aceing all of your habits – good job! But maybe a little reflection on our habits at some point is good for us all. What are the things that are constantly getting in your way? What are the things you do that seem to keep throwing you off course? What might you want to change, what might you want to be different? What habits would make things better. Pick better habits and you’ll get better results.
When thinking about developing a habit – Think trajectory as well as goal
We set goals quite easily but we need to plan how to get there. Habits help us achieve things. Habits help us achieve our goals (or they get in the way!)
How you go about your business is more important than the goal (even though the goal is important). ‘I will run 3 miles’ is a goal – but you won’t ever do it unless you figure out what the process is to get there. You need to break the goal down into manageable steps and form habits to get you there. And if you engage in negative habits they’ll get in the way of running 3 miles.
Small changes over a period of time lead to big changes
Changes that are small and seem unimportant (going for a walk, eating well, drinking less caffeine) appear unimportant but compound over time – daily choices compound over time
Small – fairly inconsequential steps – lead to massive transformations. We needed to develop positive habits (and maybe hang onto one or two of the bad ones ;-)!) The problem is some of the ways we operate can have a negative impact on us overall.
The problem is when we’re stressed – when we’re up against it – we tend to have a narrow view of what’s going on – we focus on the single thing causing us stress. What we need to do is zoom out and look at the big picture. And when we stand back a clearer picture often emerges. When we stand back it allows us to think about a priority. It gives us the space to consider next steps. It gives us the chance to consider what we may need to change in our environment or in terms of our habits – what we need to change in ourselves. Looking at the bigger picture can help us overcome overwhelm as long as when we’re looking at the bigger picture we take what we find, break it down into what needs to be done, and then make a start.
Construct habits one step at a time – start small looking for small changes that will lead to transformation
So, what habits might we want to think about establishing – what things can we focus on that over time might transform how productive we are at life….
Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits
1. Be Proactive
The problem is that people are much more inclined to be reactive. Rather than plan, rather than control what they can, they just wait to see what happens and then react. One of the things we can do is bring the future into the present and consider it, so that we can, as far as possible, predict it. This has a fancy word. It’s called planning. ‘Control it or it will control you’ (David Allen – Getting things Done)
2. Begin with the end in mind
Where are you going and how are you going to get there. Visualise what you want to achieve this week, this month, this year… this life! This is rooted in your values. Covey talks about Personality Ethics – how you look from the outside – your image – your concern for how other people view you. He says that this is not what we should be rooted in but rather we should be rooted in character ethics – what we are inside. The fabric of our person, not what we look like to other people is what’s important. Values – your values – should drive your goals and your habits
3. Put first things first
There is a disconnect about how we talk about the things that we know are good for us – or the things that we want to do – and actually doing them. Most of know what we should eat and that we need to exercise but do we do these things effectively!? We procrastinate – which is the art of ruining your life for no apparent reason!
We allow ourselves to disconnect from the things that really matter
From activities, family, friends and rest.
You need to figure out what your first things are by ‘Beginning With The End In Mind’ and then by ‘Being Proactive’ in pursuing your first things first. The science and the research tells us what the first things should be. Rest and recovery, sleep, exercise, nutrition, connecting with others.
4. Think Win-Win
Thinking win-win is about connecting things together (This is not quite how Covey talks about it – but similar). Combine things to encourage habits by connecting something you don’t like doing with something you do like doing – win – win. Instead of walking the dog on a morning – I run with the dog. The dog gets ‘walked’ and I get a run!
Or see planning as a productive process, not time wasted, but time invested
It will mean that you feel more in control of the tasks you have to do and then when you get to the task it will mean you should have everything you need in place. You’ll be in the right place at the right time for the task you are undertaking. So stopping and taking precious time out will be good for you and will mean you get to stand back and take stock and then be better organised – win – win
Research tells us that unmanaged – incomplete tasks drain psychological energy and capacity but managed tasks – even when still not completed -have less of a psychological drain. This allows you to focus on the task at hand while the other tasks wait patiently for their turn. So spending that precious time in planning means you can leave behind the things that are waiting to be done and get on with the next thing you need to do.
5. Seek first to understand and then to be understood
By understanding the other person first, you will have taken time to build a relationship and you will be able to cooperate effectively in whatever you are doing. This will support a good working relationship or a good family relationship and will improve the emotional content of interactions.
Seeking to understand may be self reflection. You may be trying to know yourself better or understand what you may need to changed. Know yourself to lead yourself.
The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. In all the areas of self-care (physical, emotional, practical) small steps over time will lead to big changes and all of these things interact and support each other…..
– you eat better – you feel more like exercising – you exercise – you sleep better – you sleep better you work better – you work better (more efficiently) you feel more able to rest – you rest better you feel more able to look after your nutrition or you exercise – and so it goes.
Also, collaborate – synergise with others. Work with your family on meal prep, buddy up for exercise, make a pact to take a lunch break and lunch together with a colleague.
7. Sharpen the saw
Self care is a necessity not a luxury. If you spend all of your time sawing down trees your saw will become blunt. If you don’t take time to sharpen your saw the trees will take longer and longer to cut down. We need to keep our minds sharp by resting and recovering effectively and by initiating good self-care.