Stephen R. Covey, the author of the groundbreaking book that continues to top bestseller lists and shape business culture today, said, “the 7 Habits represent a proven process of personal and interpersonal growth that can have both immediate and lasting impact.”
Covey is an internationally recognized authority on the subject, and each of his habits are based on principals of effectiveness, paradigms that are aligned with principles, and practices that produce effective results. The workshop based off the award-winning book “The 7 Habits for Highly Effective People” remains timeless and effective.
Though these ideas are meant to change all aspects of life and can be applied at any given time, they could prove especially helpful now that the holidays are upon us, as a recipe to de-stress this exciting, yet frenetic, time of year.
1. Habit 1 – Be Proactive: We are all so very busy this time of year with additional obligations, parties, volunteer events, school events, plans with family, etc. that we forget that we are responsible for our own happiness. But we are not victims of our circumstances and feelings--we choose how we respond to the stress of the holiday season, and as such, we should choose to focus on our own circle of influence, and not on things beyond our control. The behavior of others, the weather, or traffic are beyond our individual influence, but we can still choose how we respond to those sometimes-frustrating things and be proactive in our choices.
2. Habit 2 – Begin with the End in Mind: What do you envision for this time of year? What can you do this holiday season to make that vision possible? Do you have vacation plans? A well-planned vacation will help you to achieve an outcome of great family memories. Do you strive to serve your community and volunteer your time? Maybe you can schedule time with your family to volunteer together. By developing a blueprint of the desired end result, you are empowering yourself—rather than other circumstances or factors—to create the easiest and most fulfilling path to that goal.
3. Habit 3 – Put First Things First: How do you spend your time? Do you focus on your highest priorities? Plan your week so you can schedule the priority items. It is very difficult to fit everything in during this time of year, so it is even more important to schedule time at the end of each week to plan out the following seven days. By planning ahead and prioritizing the more important errands or events, you can avoid your time being hijacked by other activities that may not be as important.
4. Habit 4 – Think Win Win: It is easier to be on edge this time of year, and that makes it easy to lose sight of considering wins for others, as well as our own. Make a conscious effort to show kindness, courtesy, and respect, and choose an abundance mentality. There is enough for everyone, and then some. Remember this when you are out shopping or dining!
5. Habit 5 – Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood: We all want to be heard and get our point across, but if we choose to first really listen for understanding, we will actually have greater influence. Choose to listen to others instead of assuming you already know what they are going to say, or immediately jumping in with a solution before they have had a chance to share. If emotions run high, stop talking and just listen for understanding. This is especially helpful when the family comes to town and sensitive topics arise, like politics or family disputes. This habit is tough to do, but it does make for more pleasant and fulfilling time spent with your loved ones.
6. Habit 6 – Synergize: Look for opportunities to value input from others and come up with a solution that includes creative input from all involved. For instance, lots of families take advantage of school breaks at this time of year to take vacations, and everyone all has different ideas on where to go. Rather than continue to disagree and argue, strive to work together to find a destination that touches on something for everyone.
7. Habit 7 – Sharpen the Saw: This habit is critical. This is the habit of daily self-renewal. As busy as we all are, we can’t afford NOT to spend time renewing ourselves each day. Plan time for you. It can be as simple as taking a walk every day or scheduling a massage—just take a break from the holiday shopping, the bake sales, and the Christmas concerts. You will have more energy to live your busy life if you make yourself a priority.
Wishing you the best during this holiday season!