Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Book Review: "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People"

In line with our January social media focus this month of "Resolutions: How to Set Them and Keep Them", we will be reviewing “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen R. Covey. This book review is written by our Program Director and Counselor, Ross Hickman. He works out of our Birmingham office, and if you would like to read more about him, click here.

Every year, new ideas emerge on how to live, how to be successful, and how to stay positive and overcome adversity. In fact, according to Wikipedia, over 1,100 self-help books were written in 2007 alone. Stephen Covey’s original  7 Habits of Highly Effective People book was released in 1989, and he has gone on to write several variations targeting very specific populations, but all using his original 7 habits.

Covey’s approach is simple and straightforward: He sees principles as external and absolute, and values as internal and subjective. In his “Effective Family” version, Covey mirrors his original by patiently spelling out each habit in detail, providing stories and examples to give tangibility to his ideas and overall direction.

Each habit builds on the previous habit, forming a system and process that is easy to follow. 100% behavioral and communication laden, his habits are laced with “uncommon sense,” which we all know should be apparent to us in most situations. Covey does a good job in admitting mistakes in his own choices and care of his family, and embraces strategies learned from real effort and failure.

Although the book is not a quick read, Covey does sum up each habit rather succinctly at the beginning of each respective chapter, so those that would rather skim than read will get some useful information, albeit a very small percentage overall of what the book conveys. 

If you are interested in purchasing this book, click here

Thursday, January 17, 2013

How to Make New Year's Goals and Keep Them!

Dear Anne, I am seeing that your social media focus this month is “Goals: How to Set Them & Keep Them”, and I am really at a loss. I feel like I always set New Year’s Resolutions and by January 15th I have stopped. I need help knowing how to set an appropriate goal and then also any tips you can give me on how to keep it.

When counselors talk with clients about setting and meeting their goals they try to make sure that the goals are S.M.A.R.T.  First, we want to make sure that the goals that we set are Specific.  Having specific goals helps a person to feel more confident about what they are setting out to do as much of the ambiguity is taken away.  The more specific your goals are the more likely you are to achieve them. 

Second, we want to make goals that are Measurable.  For example, if your goal is to exercise and get in shape, then you would want to come up with a number of days a week that you would work out and the amount of time you would work out each day.  You might say that you would work out 3 days a week for 30 minutes each day. 

Third, goals should be Attainable.  When you set goals for yourself that are attainable, you will be able to see yourself accomplish your goals.  Therefore, you will be less likely to become discouraged.  Set goals that are small enough that you will be able to reach them.  As you watch yourself attain one of your goals you will develop more confidence to accomplish your next goal. 

Fourth, we want to set goals that are Realistic.  They should not be goals that take up too much time to fit into your schedule on a regular basis, or that you would quickly become weary of doing.  They should be goals that you have the means to achieve.  For example, if your goal is to get in shape and you are on a tight budget this year, then your goal would likely not include a personal trainer, but maybe would include going to the park 3 days a week for a walk or run.  Furthermore, your goals should be realistic so that you are able to maintain them.  

Finally, goals should be Time bound.  For example, if you want to be able to run a half marathon one day you are more likely to achieve that goal if you set a time limit for yourself and say that you want to be able to run a half-marathon one year from now.  If you simply say that you will do it “one day” when will you begin to start training and taking steps towards reaching your goal? 

Setting goals gives you long term vision and short-term motivation.  When you set goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound you are more likely to achieve them.  As we begin the New Year, let’s not forget about our resolutions because perhaps we have already failed to keep them.  Let’s make SMART plans now and set out to achieve our goals! 

*This column is not intended to substitute for an actual session with a licensed counselor.

If you have a question you would like to ask, EMAIL US: askanne@abchome.org or leave a comment. We would love to answer one of your questions.