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Highly Effective and Highly Efficient: Seven Habits to Change Your Life

by Amanda Roach

Full disclosure: While you’re getting some of my commentary in here, this is not my original concept.  Please read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey for details, stories, and studies behind these Habits.  It’s a great read that can really change how you behave!

When I was in middle school, my mom bought me a book from our local Homeschool Book Store and told me to read it that semester as an assignment.  Full disclosure part 2: I did not.  I read the first chapter, got bored and thought “This doesn’t apply to me,” and put it down.  I think I did the exercises that came with it to prove to her I read it, but I didn’t really read it.

So when I started up college and was clearing off my bookshelf, I found the book again and decided to give it another chance.

This time I actually read it, and now I wish I had in middle school back when my mom first told me to do it.  Sorry, mom.

The book was the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey.  His father, Stephen, wrote the ‘grown-up’ version.  I now own both, and though I haven’t read through the adult version, it’s one of my goals for this summer.

Today, we are starting a discussion on habits.  What are they, how do we make them, how do we break them, and what are some good ones to have?  This book really changed my perspective on what a healthy habit is and has changed my life for the better.  I really recommend it, but today, I’ll give you the basics to get you hooked.

The book shows different tiers of habits, somewhat similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy; if you don’t have the bottom tier, don’t even think about trying to reach the top tier.  I’m gonna give you a quick overview of what the seven habits are and inspire you to begin to utilize them in your own life.

So what are we waiting for?  Let’s get to it!

Habit One: Be Proactive

Being Proactive means that you think ahead for the situations that come your way and you are prepared.  You don’t wait until the last moment to think things through.  You don’t blow up when things don’t go right.  You don’t worry about what is outside of your control.  You are NOT Reactive to situations.

You’re not quite at glass half-full, but you thought ahead to bring the glass, so you’re taking steps in the right direction.

Habit Two: Begin with the End in Mind

I plan to talk on this one more later,  but basically, have an end goal in sight and figure out what baby steps you need to take in order to get there.  If you have no goals in mind, being given free time is a curse instead of a blessing, as with a defined goal you always have something to work toward and try for.  Things might not always work out like you planned, but that’s okay!

You’ve brought the glass and it has no cracks in it as you plan to put water in it.

Habit Three: Put First Things First

Prioritize!  Instead of sitting on your booty rewatching Tiger King, study for that final.  Work on that project for work.  Go for a walk.  Do the things you know are essential before the things that are not.  If you put first things last, you will always feel behind and stressed.

You put ice in the glass first, knowing that if you put ice in second, the water will splash on you.

Habit Four: Think Win-Win

This is where my glass metaphor will finally come around.  Life is all about choices and making tough decisions.  Try to figure out the positives to these choices and decisions, instead of focusing on the negatives.  Often, there is a way for everyone to win in a given situation.  Look for that and your life will become much better.

Your glass is half-full, not half-empty. 

Habit Five: Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood

Listen to others first and try to see things from their point of view instead of forcing your own onto them.  Make a habit of listening instead of interrupting.  Understand that other people are different than you and have different opinions, and that’s okay!  If we all thought the same thing all the time life would get so boring.

Listen to your “half-empty” friend complain about the water.  It’s okay that they think that.  Explain your thoughts to them once you understand.

Habit Six: Synergize

Work together.  Two heads are better than one, three are better than two, and so on.  Working together can help us all to understand situations better with a variety of perspectives, but it can also help with brainstorming and problem-solving.  I know group projects are a pain, but if all of the group has the idea of working together to achieve great success, then you can be incredibly successful.

Get your “half-empty” friend to work with you.  Perhaps if you work together, you can get more water in the glass.

Habit Seven: Sharpen the Saw

Don’t just read the book and forget what it says.  Don’t start a resolution on January 1st that will be dead by January 15th.  Don’t think that you have to wait for some big excuse to make a change in your life.  Maybe May 5th can be the start of a new beginning for you.

Refill the glass.  Now it’s full.

I hope you got something out of these seven habits.  The book is available on Amazon, ThriftBooks, and basically anywhere you get books, and I highly recommend it.  These seven habits can truly change your life for the better, and you don’t need an excuse to get started on making new habits.  Let’s do it together.  Finals week is a perfect time to realign your life.

Have you read any of the seven habits books?  If so, what is your favorite takeaway from them?  Let us know down in the comments!

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