Lately I have been reading far more non-fiction and self-help books than I would ever have thought in the past. My reading lists used to be exclusively fiction. Occasion one might have seen me with something other than a story, but those were often the exceptions rather than the rule. Not so much any longer.
One of my latest ventures into reading has been “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stehpen Covey. I have not finished it yet. In fact, I am only through reading about the first habit. Again, this is day 1.
Normal behavior would have me read the book in full, highlight useful parts, and maybe go back to reinforce what I had learned at some later time. This one I am treating a little different. Within the first part of the book, Stephen outlines that the book is supposed to be digested in portions. Work on each habit in succession rather than running through the book then trying to apply the learnings as he asserts that the habits build off each other.
Makes sense. How can I work on the 1st habit, being proactive, if I am thinking about habit 6 (don’t ask me what it is yet)? There might be a tidbit in habit 4 that really strikes me. All the sudden I am distracted by that.
So this is day 1 of focusing on a proactive behavior. And while taking initiative to do things as they come up is part of it (in other words, not procrastinating), it has more to do with not being reactive to situations. Not letting things control you, about being responsible. It’s changing language from a stance of victimhood to that of acceptance and ownership. I own my emotions. I choose to be happy/sad/angry at a circumstance. It’s learning to operate more in my “circle of influence” rather than only functioning in my “circle of concern.” It’s about learning to let go of worrying about things outside of either of those circles.
There’s a lot of areas in my life I can immediately identify as parts where that comes into play. From work, to my child, to my wife, to my trials as an independent writer. I’ve let all of these control me, control my emotions. Frustration builds as I allow one to impact the other.
For example as something I have absolutely said before: “I have difficulty finding time to write because or work/child/wife/responsibilities.” What that means is that I allow outside forces to dictate the time I spend writing. Yet even though I put in little hacks such as my 100 words trick, I still find ways around writing when I have time to do so. Not their fault; my fault. Adopting Stephen’s methodology, that is part of my being reactive rather than proactive.
Why aren’t my books selling? While a fair question to ask myself, that’s even going into a reactive mindset. More appropriate: what am I doing to sell my books? If I am honest with myself, absolutely nothing. And if I am doing nothing to sell my books, can I blame any circumstances outside of me for limited sales? Nope. Not a chance.
Day 1. It’s gotten to be time to change all of that. I want to take this seriously. I want to take myself seriously. Let’s get this proactive behavior thing down. You are welcome to come along on my journey.