Learning and Teaching the 7 Habits: Part 2 of Habit 2 – Begin With the End in Mind

Merry Christmas! I spent the day at leisure with my family, so apart from doing a few German lessons on DuoLingo, I didn’t exactly get anything done today. But, I did have fun! My dad got an Amazon Echo for the house, so we had fun playing with Alexa. I got a cool new board game: it’s “Reign of Chtulu,” a Mythos version of “Pandemic.” It’s challenging, suspenseful, and loaded with a glorious Lovecraftian theme. I also got a new Kindle to replace my broken one, so I’ll be setting that up tomorrow! We also ate desserts, and watched the hilarious movie Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, which I greatly recommend! It’s directed by John Hughes, the same guy who did Ferris Buhler and Breakfast Club. All-in-all, not the most proactive day of Day 3/30 of my Proactivity Challenge, but, worth it for a holiday, I say.

Tomorrow, I’ll be seeing a close friend to work on an exciting new business idea. Trust me, you’ll hear about it here once we’re ready 😉

Also in tomorrow’s plan:

  1. A workout for my shoulders, abs, and cardio. (Running.)
  2. Connected to number 1, tracking my food intake with a goal of 160 grams of protein. (~1g protein per pound of body fat is the guideline I go with.)
  3. Practicing harmonica for half an hour.
  4. Rescheduling my Wednesday blood drive appointment to the next day: I forgot to mention two days ago, I was proactive in setting that. Now I’ll have to reschedule since I’ll be visiting with extended family most of that day.
  5. Spending a focused hour on cleaning my room, while listening to a useful podcast.
  6. Earning 100 XP on DuoLingo: half German, half French.
  7. Re-read Habit #3, and write a blog post on it.
  8. Get my Kindle set up.
  9. Buy a new set of calendar pages for my Covey System notebook.
  10. Do a couple hours of UpWork writing for a client.
  11. Do some fiction writing for a client.
  12. Plan an ebook idea I have.

There’s more I’ll end up doing too, but I’d say that’s a good list of worthwhile thinks to accomplish in a day. I’ll be furthering my goals in writing, business, and personal fitness, as well as learning for pleasure and career development. I’ve noticed in my experience since reading The 7 Habits that I’m more productive and happy on days that I planned the day before. It’s that concept I talked about in the last post, of every project and every day having two creations first in the mind, then in reality. Putting my to-do list and my schedule into written form helps implant its importance in my mind, and keep me focused with my longer-term vision.

That brings us to the second half of my exploration of Covey’s second Highly Effective Habit:

Begin With the End in Mind

In last night’s post, I talked about the exercise for imagining your own funeral and pondering how you want to be remembered by your loved ones and associates when you’re gone. From there, I talked about the distinction between leadership and management, and how plenty of people have good personal management in terms of making a schedule and being efficient but lack the effectiveness that comes from a big-picture, long-term vision, in the form of a life plan and personal mission statement. Covey considers personal statements precious, and I’m inclined to agree. If you don’t discover and articulate your own values, vision, and philosophy, (and if the values you select aren’t in alignment with the principles of reality,) you’ll have those things handed to you by other people, and then you’ll be serving their interests, instead of your own. Helping other people is fine, but when I only have this one life to live, I’m living it the way I truly want.

Writing a Personal Mission Statement

Covey contends that a mission statement isn’t something you can just whip up in half an hour and then run your life on. It’s something that takes isolation, meditation, and time to refine and polish. He does offer advice more specifically on how to write your own mission statement.

  1. You can expand your perspective, such as using the “my own funeral” exercise. You can also imagine your future anniversaries with your spouse or your retirement from your occupation. What do you want to have felt you’ve accomplished at those times? How would you live if you only had, say, a year, six months, or a month to live? Values can come into focus quickly when we don’t have much time left.
  2. You can use visualization and affirmation. An affirmation should be a phrase that is personal, positive, present tense, visual, and emotional. Take for example, “It is exciting and fun when I go to the gym to lift weights and strengthen my body.” I can also visualize my next workout: the strain, the sweat, the grip of my hands on the barbell, the movements of my arms and legs in each exercise, the refreshing and nourishing post-workout smoothie, and the glorious feeling of soreness and accomplishment.
  3. You can also go more logical, and think about your roles and goals. That is to say, what hats do you wear in your life right now? Think of family relationships like father or brother, a couple different aspects of your career such as lecturer and researcher, a volunteer role you may work in, or a leadership position in a service organization. For me, I am a son, a friend, a brother, a student, a Cadet, a writer, and a businessman, right now. Some of my goals include a six-figure income by the time I’m 30, having a bodyweight of 180 pounds with 10% body fat, and publishing a novel every year from 2018 onward.

By using these emotional and logical lenses, we can begin to piece together a personal mission statement that weaves together everything most important to us in an emotional, positive, inspiring way. It takes work to get a personal mission statement concise of course, and there are many ways to format one. Like I said…I’m still working on mine. I will get back to you guys on it. I promise.

Covey also suggests making mission statements for your work organization and family. I like that idea. I’ll work on it with my friend tomorrow for our project, actually. Anyway, that’s basically it for Habit 2. I’m going to spend time this week meditating and reading research materials to help me on writing a great mission statement. I’ll also keep integrating this habit by coming back to my long-term goals, and practicing the first, mental creation of each of my days, projects, and activities.

I love this book. 🙂

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