“You can’t make footprints in the sands of time by sitting on your butt! And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?” – Bob Moawad
When I turned thirteen I was given a miniature red book called ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens’ by Sean Covey. It claimed to be ‘The Ultimate Teenage Success Guide’. A little sceptical, I read it and actually found it to be quite inspiring. The title kind of gives away what the content of the book is: seven habits which aim to make your journey on the teenage roller coaster a little smoother.
The seven habits include: being proactive, setting goals, prioritising, thinking win-win, listening and understanding, co-operating and recuperating. Despite seeming like the manual for a ‘perfect’ teenager, it is well thought out and helps you look past the physical you. In order to have a healthy lifestyle, you have to look after more than just what you eat and how much you exercise. Mind, body, spirit – all three areas must be catered for. The book includes clever activities to help you organise, renew, think on the bright side, and questions to make you stop and think about where you’re going in life.
Habit 1: Be proactive
Take responsibility for your life.
This chapter talks about building a personal bank account. Here, deposits are sticking to commitments, being kind, gentle and honest, renewing yourself and tapping into talents. Withdrawals are where promises are broken, things being kept to yourself, beating yourself up, lying, wearing yourself out and neglecting talents. I thought this was a clever metaphor which helps to build confidence and keep on track with how life’s going.
Habit 2: Begin with the end in mind
Define your mission and goals in life.
Chapter two explains the difference between proactive and reactive people. Basically, having a can-do attitude is the way to go, also not letting others ruin your good day. Almost stay in a bubble of happiness, gentleness and calmness, tricky as it can be as a teenager!
Habit 3: Put first things first
Prioritise, and do the most important things first.
The next chapter describes how you should always start with the end in mind. Thinking about where you want to be one year from now, then considering what actions you need to take now in order to arrive there.
Habit 4: Think win-win
Have an everyone-can-win attitude.
The fourth chapter outlines the importance of organisation and shows you how to organise to-dos, starting with the ‘big rocks’, fitting other little details around the paramount events.
Habit 5: Seek to understand, then to be understood
Listen to people sincerely.
This chapter gives an insight into the key to communication: listening. It takes you through a masterclass of active listening techniques, making you sit back and take in the world of information thrown at us everyday, before we’re tempted to fall into the bad habit of commenting selfishly on every little detail.
Habit 6: Synergise
Work together to achieve more.
This habit is all about accepting help when you need it, not keeping issues to yourself and valuing good friendships throughout your teenage years.
Habit 7: Sharpen the saw
Renew yourself regularly.
Chapter seven likens the body to a car: needing rest, good fuel, regular tune-ups and oil changes. Care for you body with wholesome, fresh food, give it plenty of relaxation time, enough sleep, regular exercise, stretching, strength training and routine. I liked the thinking behind this chapter, it helped me realise what my body needs in order to function at its best.
So, this was a review turned into a kind of advert for the book, and I’ll bet you want to read it now! I’d recommend it, even if you just read it once. For me, it’s a book I can go back to every now and again, and every time I get something different from it. As a young Christian, this is not the only source I go to for inspiration and nourishment of my mind, body and spirit. But it is practical and thought-provoking.
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