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Self-help and Self-Development are in some cases the same thing and other times, they are miles apart.

I see a lot of flak going around because people read these books and they think that it’s going to change their lives forever.

It can and it will, but you probably won’t see all the results until ten years later, or twenty.

That’s an experience I’m having with my latest read. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.

For a variety of reasons I won’t get into on the internet, I avoided this book. I didn’t want to read it, even though it’s considered a cornerstone in the industry. And boy is it interesting to read this now after I’ve done half the work in the book and working on the other half. And no, it’s not all the same set of habits.

When I was an early teenager, this book went through a surge of popularity that led to my parents reading it. And then they tried to make me do all the things in the book without telling me why.

It has been one of those, ‘that’s why that didn’t work’ kinds of reads. It is a trip to read.

I’ve been proactive for a long time. I don’t do ‘sit and wait’ really well, so I like to fix things before they are a massive problem. I like to fill holes, clean cogs, tinker until it shines. I usually don’t realize I’m fixing something until I spill whatever I’m cleaning it with.

I felt really good reading this part of the book because it was a lesson I knew well. It also explained why certain people got on my last nerve more often than anyone else, mostly because they were ‘wait and suffer’ people.

Not my jam.

But then I got to the second habit.

Begin with the end in mind.

Oh, dear.

That was the lesson I’m currently working on. Because much as I know how to make goals and break it down, I didn’t focus on what I wanted my life to look like in the future. I just wanted a change.

So I moved halfway across the country to make those changes. Some of those ugly habits are still here. I knew they would be, but I wanted to make sure they were things that were bad habits inside of me or triggers from my environment.

I’ve gotten to the point that I know more of what I want my life to look like in the future, and I made goals according to those plans. But that isn’t what keeps me on track.

Course Correction

I recently did a printable of the weekly spread that I wanted to try out. It has a section that is called Reality Check. I didn’t give any instructions on what to use it for because I wanted to see what other people did with it.

But I’ll tell you what I use it for: a weekly review. But it isn’t just a summary of what happened and why and what I was doing about all of it.

It’s about keeping on course with my goals. About making decisions that will affect my future. Deciding if I really, really wanted to head this direction that I had idealized in my mind.

These minute changes at the start of a situation can drastically change how things turn out in the end of the road. Or at least at my next mile marker.

Such as my word count goal for the year and the fact that I’m behind. I can change course now and up my daily expected words so that in December it is a race to the finish but it’s not an impossible reach to get there.

The Process

You first want to look at your major goals of the week. The three things that you decided would be worth the most time that it took to complete them. This week I only have two. But they’re pretty shiny.

  • write 10,500 words for word count (1500 words each day–up from 1000 previously)
  • write personal mission statement

Pretty important things that I really should have already done, but you know, I’ve never been someone who does things in the specified order. My daily task list is a prime example of the do what I can do now and leave the ugly stuff to later.

I try to do this on Saturdays because I have a system.

I do a mind dump every other week on Friday. It gets all the details, the nitty-gritty, the dumb stuff still floating around in my head out and I can sort it out. This let’s me make sure that I have all my projects on the opportunity list of things to get done in the coming week. And so that things that are a small moment but big deal (*cough* taxes,) get done.

The next day I can evaluate all the things in my reality check if I’m making the right progress to my major goals sitting on deck. Or if I want to scrap something. Or if something happened during the week that changes my plans (#coronavirus anyone). Or I’m thinking about changing my motto for the year in the middle of the year which I’ve never felt the need to do before.

Finally, I plan my week on Sundays. This gives me time to sleep on those lists and make sure nothing is missing. Sure, they tell you if it doesn’t come to mind when you first sit down, it’s not important, but I’ve got some sort of program in my head like that boomerang thing for email, that sends stuff into the back and comes out at night when I am trying to sleep*.

I also like to plan my week after church on Sunday when I’m still pondering the sermon and therefore it will influence my plans and make sure that I am doing my best self. Rather than the cranky version of me on a Friday when I’m starting to feel the effects of not getting all the things done that I promised myself.

Modify when you catch the issue, not waiting till the end

At least that’s the goal. It’s a process that varies from week to week. The intentions behind it are really the important part. And that has been a mindset shift lately that was beyond helpful.

I can’t control other people but I can hold myself to what I do. To making goals that are number specific and just an arm’s length out of my comfort zone. Like having a writing goal of putting 366K words this year.

That’s a whopper when you read it as a total, but when you think about that is only 1000 words a day**, and I want to make a writing my livelihood, that’s not so crazy. Only thing is I’m behind the daily average for the goal to make it by the end of the year. Some of that is poor planning on my part, some of it is just other reasons, and some of it is that I haven’t been holding myself to my commitments as well as I should have.

But we’re going to go at this again. In order to catch up for the end of the year in six months I will need to write about 1283 words a day. Because I’m a realist and know that I will miss days and not match up perfectly, I’m making it a new goal of 1500 words a day. That should give me about 250K words which is about what I have left to write this year.

I’m going to make it, not because anything fancy that I do, but because I’m going to sit in my chair and keep a promise to myself. Then I can work on keeping other promises to me that I’ve made.

Not only will this particular goal catch me up, it should build a buffer so that I can at the very least make this goal at the end of the year. Not that I’m not planning on sitting down the week after Christmas and before and New Year’s and doing anything but churning out words.

I call it the MUDfiles for a reason.

What’s your big goal for the year, and where are you sitting on completing it? What would it take to still get it done this year?

As always, I hoped you learned something from this and you carry it into the section of your life that needs it,

J Joy

*Like writing a presumptuous email that makes me sound very needy and rude and I’m hoping that she didn’t read it, and it went straight to her spam so I can send her another one.
**I can write 700-1200 words in 30 minutes depending on what I’m writing. Next year the goal is going to be only fiction writing with the same word count, but I needed a mile marker to tell me that was really possible first.

One comment on “Make it a Reality Check

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