Taking the 7 Habits into Adulthood
Back when I was in high school, I read the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teenagers by Sean Covey and this is one of the books that had the biggest impact on my life. I rented my first copy from the library and then eventually bought my own one shortly after.
I wanted to make a change in my life at that point and believed that this book was the answer. Now, I’m not sure it was this belief or just because this book is so amazing, but it did change my thoughts and in the end my life in a drastic way.
But I felt that the principles in that book aren’t just useful as a teenager, but habits that ought to be taken with you into your adulthood.
What’s the book about?
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teenagers is a book written by Sean Covey which he based on the principles found in his dad’s bestseller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. When he wrote the book, he wanted to share the principles that his father wrote but in a way that is understandable and entertaining for teenagers.
This book contains habits that if implemented will make you more effective in all the different areas of your life.
What are the 7 Habits?
1 Be Proactive
There are two types of people in this world, people who are proactive and those who are reactive. Sean Covey compares people who are reactive to a bottle of soda and those who are proactive to a bottle of water.
Reactive people get shaken by the world around them. When a car cuts in front of a reactive person on the road, they react by yelling or honking. They don’t stand still and think, they react to every situation that crosses their path. They will “explode” like the soda bottle when the world starts shaking them a bit. They don’t take charge of their own lives but wait for things to happen to them. And when things don’t go their way (even though they haven’t put in any effort to get it to) they blame the people, circumstances, the government or even the whole world for their misfortune. They’re the no-can-do people.
Proactive people on the other hand are can-do people. They think ahead and don’t wait for good things to happen to them, they make them happen. And when the world starts shaking them every which way, they don’t react but can stand back and think things through. Just like a bottle of water, they won’t bubble over. Their choices are value-based and not determined by fleeting emotions! Proactive people aren’t easily offended as they take everything at face value.
2 Begin with the End in Mind
Beginning with the end in mind simply means knowing where you’re going and what it is that you want out of life. Now, this does not mean you have to have a step-by-step plan worked out in the minutest detail of what your next 10 years are going to look like. I mean, if you do, kudos to you. But that’s not the focus of this habit.
You have to figure out what it is that you stand for, what your values are, and if you have these figured out, all of the rest will fall into place. The easiest way to do this is to compile a personal mission statement.
A mission statement is something that’s personal and every person needs to figure out what it means for them. For some it is a quote or list of quotes, for others, it’s song lyrics, a poem or even a list of values that you believe in. One common characteristic regardless of the format of your mission statement, it is something that you relate to personally and that you feel aligns with your outlook and aspirations in life.
To figure this out, ask yourself these 3 questions:
- Who do you want to be?
- What do you want to do?
- What core values make up your character?
Living according to a mission statement gives you a guideline according to which you can live and help prevent you from making serious life-derailing mistakes. Although this probably won’t keep you from doing stupid things like cutting your own bangs, those are some of the tough lessons you’ve got to learn on your own. Ps. it’s never a good idea to cut your own hair, no matter what Pinterest wants you to believe!
Check out this article if you want some more guidance in creating your own mission statement: How to Write a Personal Mission Statement
3 Put First Things First
This habit is all about prioritising. Since the habits build on top of each other, this one habit can make or break your success. Meaning that you can have the right can-do attitude with whatever life throws at you and have the perfect mission statement, but still fail miserably because you don’t have a hang of the third habit.
Putting first things first is about focusing on the most important things first and making time for the tasks that line up with your end goals. But, most of us don’t ever stand still and consider what things are potential roadblocks for us or ask ourselves why we aren’t reaching our goals. And we end up setting ourselves up for failure although we had the best intentions.
So in the spirit of putting first things first, start by figuring out in which quadrant you fall in the chart above.
Do you put off important things until the very last possible moment? Do you constantly place yourself under ridiculously tight deadlines because you spent the majority of your time slacking off? Then you’re most likely a resident of quadrant number one.
Or maybe you find it hard to say no to others and end up piling your schedule full of things that aren’t all that important but at the same time feel really urgent. Clearly, you spend a lot of time in the neighborhood of quadrant number three.
Maybe you’re the type of person who spends the majority of their time on wasteful activities such as watching TV or sleeping, completely disregarding responsibilities and other tasks that align with your goals. Sounds like you’re the slacker.
It could also be that you plan ahead, don’t allow deadlines to sneak up on you and only make time for fun activities once you know all of your work is done. Do allow people to walk all over you with menial tasks? Of course not! Well, congratulations my friend, you are where all of us aspire to be, you’re squarely in the middle of quadrant two.
Unless you’re the last-mentioned person, you seriously have to look at prioritizing your time a whole lot better!
Quite often it’s not as simple as determining that you’re lazy or a push-over. Sometimes it comes down to us feeling more relaxed and safe in our comfort zones. And I mean who doesn’t want to feel at ease and doing things that you know you enjoy doing. This is okay sometimes, but there’s no real growth here.
We have to force ourselves out of this circle of our comfort zone and venture beyond this, into the unknown. This might mean that we will fail and have to do things that don’t come as naturally to us. It will probably be difficult or even risky, but at the end of the day, it will be worth it!
Because in the courage zone lies adventure, new experiences and opportunities and acquiring new skills that would otherwise not be possible.
So, take the plunge, explore those new territories and try things you’ve never done before!
These are only the private victories of the highly effective person (the first three habits).
Keep an eye out for the next article, which is the following three habits (the public victory) and the final habit (the renewal).
Sources used: Sean Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teenagers