Without having a tutor to guide you through high school and give you good habits throughout your teen years it can be really hard to figure out exactly what you are capable of and how to get where you want to go. The truth is, you are at a pivotal point in your life. Most people follow a cycle similar to that of their parents. Humans follow a process known as mimesis, which means learning through imitation. This is great for figuring out how to cook or make your bed but the downside is that when you are looking at your parents, friends or teachers for guidance you also pick up their bad habits.
Have you ever said any of the following?
“I can’t go to University, no one in my family has gone there.”
”You can’t get ahead in life unless you know the right people.”
”No one will hire me without experience.”
Sean Covey’s book the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens looks at how we end up with these mindsets and exactly how to break out of them. It provides a great scaffold for approaching life in order to be better at studying, making friends, finding work and most importantly creating more time for yourself so that you can do stuff that you enjoy. You could buy the book but the information contained within is so beneficial that I would like to share these 7 habits that have absolutely revolutionised my life and the lives of my friends.
Even if you are not a reader, I cannot recommend this book enough. It will give you vital life skills that you are very unlikely to learn in school without extra curricular tuition.
So without further ado, here are the seven habits of highly effective teens:
Habit 1: Be Proactive
This habit is all about taking responsibility for your actions. Everyday you are faced with a multitude of choices. Will you study, are you going to eat that extra piece of cake, will you muster the courage to ask that question? All these choices culminate into what is better known as your life. Yes there are factors that you can’t control like where you were born, the economic status of your parents and institutionalised schooling but with every decision that you make you shape a small part of your world and if you approach life from this perspective, you realise just how much control you actually have.
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
Do you remember getting asked when you were little what you wanted to be when you grew up? Everyone has a picture of where they want to go – there is just a lot of noise in between where we want to be and where we allow ourselves to go. This comes back to living out the cyclic existence that I highlighted at the beginning of this article. Imagine where you want to be. Think about who you believe you are—don’t think jobs or careers. Feel inspired by the very nature of your existence and think about what steps you might take to get there. Have you even taken one step?
If not… How will you ever get there?
Habit 3: Put First Things First
What should you prioritise first? Each day you are going to be accosted with things to do, it is important to make sure that you are working towards something. In his book Sean Covey advises you to list your tasks in four quadrants.
- Urgent & Important
- Not Urgent & Important
- Urgent & Not Important
- Not Urgent & Not Important
Highly effective people have the majority of their tasks in quadrants one and two.
Habit 4: Think Win-Win
Most people think of the world in the paradigm of competition. Whilst it is really beneficial to be competitive and does wonders for the person winning, it can be quite destructive to the loser in the way of self-esteem and worth. People who think win-win are always looking for solutions that improve the situation for everyone involved.
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
Everybody wants to be the hero and fix things for others but if you go in guns blazing without first asking the questions – listening and genuinely trying to understand the problem, you may end up with an outcome that doesn’t necessarily help the situation. When you approach an issue, first aim to understand what message that the other party is trying to convey before putting your position forward. This will help all parties reach a solution that works.
Habit 6: Synergize
Synergy is once again about effectively working with others. We all have a unique position, upbringing, set of beliefs and ideas. In order to reach synergy with others you want to develop an action plan that helps you all work together.
Covey highlights a five-step method for reaching synergy:
First: Highlight the details of the problem.
Second: Try to see it from the perspective of someone else.
Third: Let the others in the group know your ideas and listen for their responses.
Fourth: Brainstorm for new ideas and options.
Fifth: Develop the best solution together.
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
The final habit is probably the most important habit of all. It is all about keeping your body, mind and emotions nourished in order to keep yourself performing at your peak. Taking time to read a great book like Sean Covey’s the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens, exercising, eating healthy, meditating or spending time in nature all assist in a sense of renewal and well-being.