7 Habits to Start the New Year Right

In: Insights

I guess I’m a creature of habit, for good or for bad. One good habit I’ve developed is my New Year goal setting exercise. I love the opportunity to “reset” my life for the new year, throwing out old habits and starting on some new ones.

My favorite book to read this time of year is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. He’s an undisputed authority on leadership and success principles and gives us 7 things that can improve every area of our lives in the new year. I’ve also come to realize these principles apply brilliantly when it comes to the marketing of your business. Consider reading this timeless book and follow his suggestions:

1. Be proactive. I don’t think you can be proactively reactive. And yet much of our daily lives are spent in a reactive state, reacting to emails, reacting to interruptions, reacting to our circumstances, the weather, the news, other people’s opinions. As humans, we have the freedom to choose before we respond to stimulus. Covey suggests a thirty-day test of proactivity and see how it affects your circle of influence. Let’s act on it this year.

2. Begin with the end in mind. One of the most effective ways to begin with the end in mind is to develop a personal mission statement. I’ve used and was very pleased with the Mission Statement Builder at www.franklincovey.com. It’s a great tool that I highly recommend using to start your new year right.

3. Put first things first. This is one of the hardest things for me to do consisently. I think I have a bit of a self-destruct mechanism that pulls me easily off my best intentions. This one chapter alone is worth the cost of the book as it outlines the Four Quadrants: 1) Important, Urgent, 2) Important, Not Urgent, 3) Not Important, Urgent, 4) Not Important, Not Urgent. The goal is to live your life in Quadrant 2 which is close to impossible if you are not in control of your time management.

4. Think Win/Win. Is it really possible to create win/win situations in every interaction and relationship in your life? Covey believes the answer is yes. The problem is that many of us have Win/Lose scripting deeply embedded in our internal code. How can you seek mutual benefit in each of your relationships this new year?

5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood. First I always laugh now when I hear this statement, ever since watching Mystery Men where one of the “Super Heroes” uses this statement and others like it ad nauseum in his comical admonishment of Ben Stiller who calls him Captain Conundrum. In all seriousness though, I believe life would be much easier if we took the time to learn and practice the art of “empathetic communication.

6. Synergize. Covey believes that valuing the differences is the essence of synergy–the mental, the emotional, the psychological differences between people. Think about people who typically see things differently than you do. Look for ways to synergize (the highest level of communication) with those people, instead of being defensive (lowest level of communication), or even respectful (compromising level of communication).

7. Sharpen the saw. The seventh habit is about renewing the four dimensions of your nature–physical, spiritual, mental, and social/emotional. What steps do you take to renew each of these dimensions? Exercise, prayer and meditation, reading good books or taking a course, taking time for friends, family and community…these are just a few things you can consider in your new year goals.

Good luck with your goal setting and Happy New Year!