Sunday, January 30, 2011

Taking Time to Understand

I've always thought that listening to others was one of my strong points as a person. However, just because I listen doesn't mean that I'm really seeking to understand who I'm listening to. I tend to get frustrated when I'm trying to talk to friends, and they are doing something else and not listening. However, if I'm listening, but not truly seeking to understand their points of view, is it really any different? 

I think when a friend talks to me about a problem, I automatically try to fix it based on my experiences, even if I haven't been through the same thing. I've learned through reading the 7 Habits that we should first seek to understand others' points of view instead of weighing their problems against our point of view. There are many factors that go into another person's problem and his or her reaction to it, and it ultimately has nothing to do with my point of view. Who am I to judge how someone else is dealing with a problem? Why do I think that my way of fixing it has to be right? 

My goal is to start listening intently, without a preconceived notion of what someone is going to say and let them finish before I begin trying to fix his or her problem in my head. Sometimes people aren't looking for advice. They're just looking for understanding.

What It Takes To Say "No"

Here we go. I've known my whole life that I have a problem telling anyone "no." As a result, I overbook my schedule, wear myself out and then end up not even fulfilling all the commitments that I make. I tend to pride myself on being committed to my obligations, but when there are too many, there is no way to do well at all of them. What I realized in looking at Habit 3, "Put First Things First," is that no matter what, I'm always saying "no" to something. If it's not to the apparent, urgent things in my life, then it's probably to more non-urgent, but still important things like relationships and personal health.

So, there are many "good" things going on that I would love to be a part of. However, based on my priorities, which should be based on my core values and principles, I need to decide which things are "best," not just "good." According to Covey, to be able to say "no," we have to have a bigger "yes!" burning inside. 

I think if I can learn to plan out my week based on my principle-centered priorities, I can discern what is "best" and and in turn, decide what I should say "no" to. I think it's ultimately better to admit up front that you won't be able to be totally committed to something than to try to do it anyway and end up doing it halfheartedly. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Habit 1: Be Proactive

"Between stimulus and response, man has the freedom to choose."

We make many choices every day. Most of them we hardly think about such as choosing between oatmeal and cereal for breakfast. What we sometimes don't realize is that every day, we choose our mood. No, there's no way we can control all of our circumstances. Bad things are going to happen to each and every one of us. However, according to The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, "It's not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us." We can choose our response to any circumstance.

Unfortunately, as I realized when I read this section of the book, I have lived most of my life as a reactive person. If it rains, my mood is worse. I let what others say and do affect how I feel on a regular basis. I can't stand to make mistakes, and when people try to point them out, I react defensively. I identified so well with the "language of reactive people." For example, sometimes I blame my actions and responses on personality or genetics, which indicates that I'm not responsible for them. Also, I go throughout life thinking about all the things I "have" to do, without admitting that I'm choosing to do them. Living life this way is not fair to myself and certainly not to the people around me. I also tend to have the "I'll be happy when..." mentality. 

Now that I've fully realized my problem, I am going to be proactive and do something about it. As prompted at the end of the Habit 1 section, I'm choosing an experience I will encounter in the near future where I would normally have behaved reactively, and deciding right now to behave proactively instead. For me, this experience is my piano lesson tomorrow. Piano lessons have always been hard for me because of my reactions to criticism and my obsession with being perfect. However, right now I am deciding that tomorrow, I will do my best, and then admit my mistakes and learn from them instead of becoming defensive and protective. I will NOT let the outcome of my lesson ruin the rest of my day. 

I've also decided to do the 30-day test of proactivity. See if you can tell a difference in my mood this week. :)

So long for now! I'll keep you updated!

Monday, January 24, 2011

And So It Begins...

Hi everyone! (That's directed at all zero of my followers.) I created this blog for a class, and this is the first time I have ever had a blog, so do not expect it to be life-changing. :P I really like emoticons, so you will see them a lot! Let's see...what else do you need to know about me? I have a few obsessions that I should just go ahead and get out there: God, music, Harry Potter, Italian gelato, musicals, Meryl Streep, Disney, and that just about sums it up! So...anyway, I should be writing about something a bit more interesting (hopefully) in a day or two. Until then!