Stephen Covey is famous for his classic self-help book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”. But did you know that he wrote another book called “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families”? The principles in this book are so practical and impactful! If you do not have time to read the entire book, here’s a summary of the seven habits and how you can implement them in your family.
Habit 1: Be proactive (Mindset)
This habit encourages us to take responsibility for our lives and not blame others for our problems. It means taking responsibility for your actions and choices. As a parent, this means taking the initiative to create a positive and nurturing environment for your family. For example, instead of waiting for your children to come to you with problems, proactively engage with them and create an open dialogue to build trust and understanding. When we actively seek out connections with our children, we’ll build a healthy family environment.
Habit 2: Begin with the end in mind (Destination)
This habit involves thinking about what kind of family we want to be and setting goals to achieve that vision. This means defining what kind of family culture you want to create and working towards it. For example, you may want to prioritize family time and set aside time each week for a family activity. I’ve personally created a family vision statement and involved my children in the process. It’s been a really rewarding process as we thought through our purpose, values, and dreams together. It’s important not to judge any ideas but to keep an open mind and listen to what your children have to say.
Habit 3: Put first things first (Priorities)
Putting first things first means prioritizing the most important tasks. As a parent, this means making time for your children and family first, before other obligations. Think about what matters to you. Ask yourself, “What systems are in place to set your priorities right?” For example, you may want to prioritize family dinners and make sure that everyone is present and engaged during the meal. So this might mean saying no to some work engagements at night so that you can be home for dinner.
Habit 4: Think win-win (Strategies)
Thinking win-win means we don’t fight for who is ‘right’ but we seek mutually beneficial solutions. We start to think about ‘we’ instead of ‘me’. As a spouse and parent, this means finding solutions that benefit everyone. This deposits trust into your spouse’s or children’s emotional bank account. Some strategies could include building acts of kindness, apologising sincerely, choosing not to blame, and forgiving each other.
Habit 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood (Listening)
This habit involves listening to others with empathy and understanding before expressing your own opinions. Most couples face poor communication within marriage and choose to selectively listen to their spouse, not to understand but to find a response to the person’s statements. If your spouse or child is upset, take the time to listen to them and validate their feelings before offering your own advice or solutions. Choosing not to judge the other person is not an easy task, but it’ll make a world of difference in your relationship. Be curious and ask, “What is this person saying, really?”
Habit 6: Synergize (Teamwork)
Synergizing means working together to create something greater than what can be achieved alone. By combining our strengths and working towards a shared vision, we can achieve more together. As a parent, this means encouraging collaboration and teamwork within your family. For example, you may want to involve your children in household chores and work together to get things done.
Habit 7: Sharpen the saw (Self-care)
This habit involves taking care of ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually so we can be at our best for our family. It’s essential to take breaks and recharge our batteries to avoid burnout. You may want to prioritize exercise, meditation, or a hobby that helps you relax and recharge. You can do this individually or as a family.
This list can seem overwhelming if you have never implemented any of these habits before. A simple way to look at it would be to ask yourself, “What do I need to stop doing? Or start doing?”
Remember, habits compound over time. A small 1% change today will make a huge difference years from now.