Archive | 6:40 AM

I Loved This Reminder About Taking Small Steps

18 Mar

A co

A Habit of Mind – #2 Begin With The End In Mind

A couple of weeks ago, I presented Stephen Covey‘s first habit, Be Proactive. Today I’m going to talk about his second habit, Begin With the End in Mind. As a school teacher, I learned long ago that Backward Design was the best way to plan lessons. In Backward Design, you begin with an essential question and create the last part of the lesson, an assessment and rubric first. Then you build lessons that lead up to the assessment. Makes a hell of a lot of sense, actually, to know IN THE END what you want your students to take away from their experience.

Now let’s turn to our lives in general. If we BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND, we always know where we are headed. We know what our light is at the end of the tunnel. We have a direction. This is the time for dream-building, folks. Write that dream you have down on paper. Then under that dream, list the steps it’s going to take to make that dream a reality. Under each step, there are what I call, sub-steps, or smaller identifiable actions that need to be taken in order to say that particular step has been accomplished. When you have these items WRITTEN DOWN, you can then begin to work on achieving your dreams.

Let me use myself as an example. I’ve always had a proclivity toward writing. Back east, I had already begun writing poetry and submitting to vanity presses, not knowing any better. When we moved out to Arizona, I continued. No real direction, just something to do  to express myself. But one day, after read hoards and hoards of books over the summer, an idea niggled at the back of my mind. I acknowledged it, laughed, and then ignored it. But it came back.There was no ignoring a story percolating in my head nor the insane notion that I could write something as scary as a novel. However, I thought, how does one do it? Where do I begin? WITH THE END IN MIND!

After I got over the initial excitement of deciding to write a novel, I relied on the Habits of Mind, especially Number 1, BE PROACTIVE, to focus my energies. After all, what was I really doing here? Just playing around? I had to decide. For fun or for real and for the rest of my life? It took a bit to consider what my goal really was, but in the end, I had come to the determination that fun was definitely a huge factor, but also, I wanted to start writing seriously and do it for the rest of my life. I decided that Spring Break would be a perfect time to start. My kids were in school all week. I had a week of uninterrupted time to launch my writing.

So I got a piece of paper, wrote down my dream: I want to be a successful author.

And just how was I to do that? Well, step number one: I had to write something! Stepnumber two: I had to research what it was to become an author. Step number three: I had to scope out a quiet place for myself to write and alert my family that I would be missing for hours at a time, but not to worry. They would learn how to fold clothes and cook. Step number four: Join a writing association. Step number five: Submit my work. Step number six: Learn about promotions and marketing. Step number seven: Keep writing.

As you might have guessed, each step to reach my dream had a variety of substeps. I didn’t let them scare me, though. There’s no time or place for fear if I wanted to do my damnedest to make my dream a reality. I JUST STARTED, and put a check next to each step I completed. That’s right. I dug right in to writing, because if I wanted to be successful, I needed to have something to share with the world. When I wasn’t writing, I was exploring the internet for information about the publishing world. I plowed through that list of steps like nobody’s business, and I came alive. I changed from a frustrated, stuck professional woman to one that was excited about work again. Thrilled by the unknown. Jazzed up by the creative energy coursing through me.

I’m living steps number seven and eight right now. Having TRINITY releasing on Tuesday, March 22nd has tested my knowledge of promotions and marketing. If I don’t know something, I seek out the answers. And I continue to write, because I have stories in me that must come out.

Can you see how Habit 1 and Habit 2 go together so beautifully? Once I had a dream, I was proactive and did something about it. I wrote down my dream and steps to achieve it. Then I acted upon those steps. I haven’t felt “stuck” in my life  since reading Stephen Covey’s Habits of Highly Effective People. The hardest part for anyone is actively making a change, shifting our paradigm of thought.

YOU CAN DO THIS, TOO! Just follow Habits 1 and 2 and you will see and feel a difference in how you view  and live in your world. And if you click on Stephen Covey’s name above, it will take you to his website.