Habits can make or break your day-to-day life. We all have bad habits. Biting our nails, gritting our teeth, or giving into cravings for sweets are just the tip of the iceberg. However, healthy habits can outweigh and counteract our bad habits. That’s exactly the premise of Stephen R. Covey’s bestselling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Most people think about healthy habits as physical, daily activities like exercise or flossing. But implementing other healthy habits, including those that are more attitude-based than physical, will greatly improve your work life. We’ll go through Dr. Covey’s seven habits and explain how to put them to practical use.
The first habit, the one all the others are based on, is proactivity. Proactivity is the opposite to reactivity, the state of mind where you are acting not of thought-out principles and responsibility, but rather of fear and selfish motives. Be proactive by maintaining good relationships, staying on top of your work, and having set values. When something unexpected comes around, you’ll be prepared.
Begin with the End in Mind
Especially in work life, it can be easy to jump to the easiest, fastest solution for unforeseen emergencies. Quick fixes may be needed on occasion, but in general, when you’re starting a new project, you should begin with the end in mind. For your company, every task should contribute, no matter how little, to the company’s mission statement. Create your own individual mission statement to guide you through your life’s choices.
Put First Things First
This phrase isn’t uncommon, but what Stephen Covey means here is slightly different. Instead of maintaining an endless list of pointless tasks, there are times where you will need to say no to commitments in order to truly put the overall vision first, where it belongs.
Obviously, if thinking win-win was easy, we’d all be doing it. Instead, this type of realistic optimism is rare and requires a lot of practice. In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey lists the five most important elements you must maintain to have a win-win mindset: character, relationships, agreements, support, and processes.
Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
Being a good listener is more than just taking in what someone else is saying. Instead, it’s truly internalizing it and being able to communicate back in a way that can be understood from their perspective. Ask good questions and be prepared to humbly listen to others. When you have reached understanding, only then can you make a response, and you should always do it in a way that meets the other’s needs and concerns.
Synergy is more than just interdependence. It’s the idea that a team of people works best when completely in sync with one another, putting aside disagreements and embracing individuality while depending and trusting one another. Dedicating time and practice to team synergistic efforts will make for a company that produces better results and better people.
Sharpen the Saw
A car can’t run without any gas, a saw can’t cut without a sharp blade, and you can’t work if you don’t put rest into your schedule. Dr. Covey writes about four main areas needed for “sharpening:” physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental. Tending to these areas will make your work more effective, and allow you better overall health in the long run.
Bad habits are easy to make and hard to break, and good habits work the other way around. But working on these habits from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People will renew your work life and personal life. Start practicing, and you’ll soon see results!