In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey identifies an approach to being effective in attaining your goals by aligning yourself to your core principles and ethics.
As I write this, we’re in the middle of a global pandemic. I’ve been social distancing for eight months, and no real end is in sight. As the months wear on, the effects are shown in increased stress and anxiety, weight gain, and other strains.
During the first two months of the shutdown, I poured my energies into others. This included my students, colleagues, family, and friends. I needed to finally disconnect as that was exhausting and not healthy. Now that we’ve settled into some sort of daily normal, I’m thinking about how to use this time for some self-improvement.
Yes, I am thinking post-COVID. I know some will read this post and indicate that they’re struggling to make through each week. I agree with your points, and feel the same stressors. But, as I listen to myself, I need to invest some time in myself. I urge you to do the same.
Secure Your Own Mask First
In the seventh habit, Covey talks about sharpening the saw. The premise is that if you start sawing without it, then you will end up consuming more time and energy for a particular task.
You may have a hard time considering an analogy to sharpening your saw. In an episode of the Technopanic Podcast, Kristen and I spoke with a psychologist about how to maintain mental and physical health during the pandemic. He used the analogy of the safety directions we receive in the case of an emergency. We are to put on our own masks first before moving to help others.
In that same vein, you should preserve and enhance the greatest asset you have. You need to invest time and attention in your own well-being in order to be there for others.
How to Sharpen Your Saw
Sharpen the Saw means having a balanced program for self-renewal in the four areas of your life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual. Covey discusses different techniques on how to rejuvenate these four assets through exercise, nutrition, reading, meditation, and stress management.
|Physical:||Eat the right foods, exercise, rest|
|Social/Emotional:||Cultivate health relationships, make new friends, enjoy dinner with family, contribute to your community, share skills and talents|
|Mental:||Learn, read, write, and teach|
|Spiritual:||Spend time in nature, meditate, listen to music, pray|
Keep in mind, Covey wrote this book for business, and the focus is on advocating for growth and enabling real change. Some of these concepts are a bit dated or aligned for life at a different time. I think you could consider the four dimensions and identify your own ways to renew.
Focus on Renewal
Renewal in the four areas helps us boost our capacity of handling all the toughest challenges in our life. Without renewal, the body becomes weak, the mind mechanical, the emotions raw, the spirit insensitive, and the person selfish. You increase your capacity to produce and handle the challenges around you.
Feeling good doesn’t just happen. We can strive to live a life in balance, but it means that we need to take time for ourselves. Every day we are given opportunities for renewal. A new chance to recharge our batteries instead of hitting the wall.
During these strange times, success may not be the goal, we may be focused on survival. I decided that I will make it out of this in one piece. I also will try to come out of this stronger.
Want to join me?