Reflections On The New Year

For the past 15 years I have taken some time over Christmas to reflect on the achievements of the past year and to think about goals and objectives for the new year. I was motivated to take this approach after I had read Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I developed a mission statement which highlighted vision, mission and values. You can learn more about this process at Franklin Covey’s website. The site includes some helpful articles as well as a mission builder wizard. You can also order the 15th anniversary edition of the 7 habits book.

Each year, I create a set of objectives that fall into the following categories:

  • Faith: spiritual growth and ministry
  • Family: developing and caring for my family
  • Physical: maintaining physical health and well-being
  • Financial: managing my financial resources and planning for the future
  • Professional: managing my professional career
  • Personal Development: intellectual development

What makes the process a bit more interesting is that I assess my achievements against the objectives that I set for the year. A performance review against my life. I find that this process helps me to think about the important things in life: how to serve family, friends and those whose lives I touch.

Here is a summary of Covey’s 7 habits. The book, although a bit dated now, is still a great read.

Habit 1: Be Proactive

Change starts from within, and highly effective people make the decision to improve their lives through the things that they can influence rather than by simply reacting to external forces.

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind

Develop a principle-centered personal mission statement. Extend the mission statement into long-term goals based on personal principles.

Habit 3: Put First Things First

Spend time doing what fits into your personal mission, observing the proper balance between production and building production capacity. Identify the key roles that you take on in life, and make time for each of them.

Habit 4: Think Win/Win

Seek agreements and relationships that are mutually beneficial. In cases where a “win/win” deal cannot be achieved, accept the fact that agreeing to make “no deal” may be the best alternative. In developing an organizational culture, be sure to reward win/win behavior among employees and avoid inadvertantly rewarding win/lose behavior.

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

First seek to understand the other person, and only then try to be understood. Stephen Covey presents this habit as the most important principle of interpersonal relations. Effective listening is not simply echoing what the other person has said through the lens of one’s own experience. Rather, it is putting oneself in the perspective of the other person, listening empathically for both feeling and meaning.

Habit 6: Synergize

Through trustful communication, find ways to leverage individual differences to create a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts. Through mutual trust and understanding, one often can solve conflicts and find a better solution than would have been obtained through either person’s own solution.

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

Take time out from production to build production capacity through personal renewal of the physical, mental, social/emotional, and spiritual dimensions. Maintain a balance among these dimensions.

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