Every year, millions of New Year’s resolutions are made on January 1st, and like mine, many of them never make it past January 31st. But this year I want to be better: better at setting goals and better at reaching them. In 2020 I learned a lot about myself, who I care about the most, the world in general and about my most precious resource, time. 2020 has changed me and I am no longer willing to set my usual goals which invariably peter out before winter is over, only to choose the same goals the following January. Now, time has more value, people I love have more value, I no longer view next year as much as a given as I have in the past. The goals I set will help me be around longer, be a better leader, be there for my loved ones longer and with a lot more dedication than in years past. I found a tremendous amount of inspiration in Stephen R. Covey’s book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” which I have read before, but in 2020, it meant more to me than it did before. I am no longer content to merely talk about making changes in my life, I clearly see a roadmap of how I can actually become a better version of me leveraging Covey’s habits.
Habit 1- Be Proactive
One of the reasons I feel certain I will be better at accomplishing my 2021 goals is because, unlike other years, I did not wait until January first to start, instead I chose to be proactive and start well before 2020 ended.
I got to work and organized my perfect day implementing the 6 other habits and making sure all my goals were represented each day. One of them is to go to bed by a certain time and get up earlier than I currently do. This is a goal I know will be difficult as I suffer from insomnia but will attack it as many times as needed rather than giving up and falling back into old habits.
Habit 2-Begin with the End in Mind
The most important things in my life are likely the same for you: family, job/education, and personal beliefs and relationships. As I contemplated my perfect day, I started by identifying what I wanted to accomplish in each of these areas by the end of the year. As I wrote, a pecking order began to take shape and I had the outline of a day in which I can work on bettering myself and my life in a very consistent manner. This is what I call my perfect day.
Habit 3-Put First Things First
Sometimes the loudest and/or the quickest task to accomplish inappropriately takes top position on my to-do list. If not careful, I can spend an entire day distracted by the “less important” tasks on my list. Although I am working hard, I never get to the most important goals for that day.
Armed with the list from habit #2, now I can clearly identify which tasks will move me towards my highest priority goals and place them at the top of the list. Sure, problems will come up, and occasional sidetracks, but a frequent review of these goals and tasks will help me stay focused on putting first things first to insure progress on the most important goals.
Habits 4 5 & 6-Think Win-Win; Seek First to Understand; Synergize, respectfully:
Most people within my sphere of influence are pretty good folks. Achieving a win-win is not difficult, but sometimes full agreement between all parties can be elusive. Compromise is essential as one of my goals this year requires a large piece of exercise equipment. Given our comparatively small living space, cooperating with those who share said space was essential in being able to obtain and use this equipment while maintaining harmony. In the end, we are all benefiting by its use.
Habit 7- Sharpen the Saw
Sharpening the saw basically means to work smarter, not harder. Sometimes I get so engrossed in what I am doing, and my goal of “just getting it done”, I lose objectivity in how I am accomplishing my task. I work far more effectively, and even faster, if I take time to get the rest and personal time, we all need to refresh ourselves and feel on our game. Exercise or cycling can provide that personal time for me and is therefore on my list of activities for my perfect day. That way I will be sure to fit it in my schedule.
In conclusion, all goals, particularly those which are ambitious and challenging, often require self-improvement, growth or a challenge. Many New Year’s resolutions likely fall within this category. Using Mr. Covey’s habits to create a list of the preferred endings/accomplishments, putting first things first and seeking win-wins has helped me, and hopefully will help you too.
I look forward to the leaner, more successful, kinder and more patient version of me in 2021. And so far, so good, although it’s not February yet, so the real test is yet to come…
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