It is easy for us to believe that our destiny is written for us. That our genes, our upbringing or our environment determine our chances of success and our place in life.
This beliefs is, in fact, a paradigm. In other words, a way of seeing the world that we ourselves have created. It is not reality, but merely our version of reality. And the great thing is, we can choose to change our paradigm – to a paradigm of freedom.
This new way of seeing the world allows us to understand that we can change our lives, and that the way of achieving this is to form better habits and make better choices every day.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit - Aristotle
This is a concept that is explored in depth by Stephen R. Covey in his book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wishes to empower themselves and create an effective and happy life. In this post we will explore some of the concepts within the book, and how they relate to Weight Mastery.
Covey’s theories are based on the teachings of ancient philosophy alongside more recent developments in the field of psychology, brought to life for a modern audience with modern needs and concerns. This enduring wisdom is humbling, taking things right back to the basis of humanity before the distractions and pressures of the 21st century. We will focus on 4 of the 7 habits in this post.
Habit 1: Be Proactive.
This habit is all about the inner self. When you take steps to first master your inner world, you will also master the world outside of you. You may not always be able to control the environment around you, but you can make the decision to be in control of your circumstances rather than being a slave to them.
In our struggle to become Weight Masters, we face many obstacles from outside influences. An age old example is time – you might have a family who demand large amounts of your time or a full time job. It’s easy to say ‘I can’t find time to work out’. ‘I don’t have time to cook’.
Proactive people consider the possibility of finding solutions rather than being resigned to problems. If they don’t have time to go to the gym, they get up 30 minutes early and work out at home. If they struggle to prepare an evening meal, they search for recipes that take only 15 minutes to cook. They see what can be done to overcome the obstacle, and they do it. They open up their world to new possibilities, thereby expanding their realm of possibility.
Habit 2: Begin With the End in Mind
Have you ever asked yourself why? Why do you want to lose weight? Is it to please people around you? To enable you to feel superior? Be totally honest with yourself here. We all do this – we give ourselves a goal, but we forget to give ourselves a purpose. A purpose can only be driven from within – an ambition for who we want to be, what our character is, and which principles and values we aspire to live up to.
Only then will we find reasons to stick to our healthy habits compelling enough to sidestep any passing desire.
You need to two things to achieve this. Firstly, to Know – to understand what you want to achieve and why you want to achieve it. This gives you the basis of your personal mission statement – your ambition and purpose. Secondly, to Desire – to truly want and be able to will yourself to achieve your purpose.
Once you have a clear understanding of these things, you can move onto the next phase. This is to Develop – to procure the skills to be able to achieve your purpose.
Habit 3: Put First Things First
Once you have clarity over your purpose and aspirations, you have the power to make a change. But this requires careful planning and prioritisation.
Often we find ourselves spending our time reacting to urgent situations and perceived ‘emergencies’. These are easy for us to see – a common example might be an email from a colleague demanding an urgent response to a question. The important tasks are much more difficult to spot, especially if you don’t have clarity of vision. An important task for a Weight Master would be to do a weekly grocery shop, ensuring all necessary goods are available to cook healthy meals. It could be a 30 minute window where we plan to work out. Unless we block off and protect windows of time for the important tasks, we are likely to fall victim to the ‘urgent’. Highly effective Weight Masters make a weekly schedule, allocating an appropriate amount of time for each of their roles in life (parent, employee, spouse, healthy individual).
Habit 4 (Covey’s 7th): Sharpen the Saw
This habit is especially relevant for Weight Mastery.
Covey tells the story in his book of a lumberjack who is sawing logs. Each time he saws a new log, the work becomes slower and he becomes more exhausted. A passerby stops and watches the lumberjack for a while. “What’s the problem?” the passerby asked. “My saw is blunt and won’t cut the logs properly”, the jumberjack replied. “Why don’t you take a break and sharpen it?” “Because I’m too busy sawing to take a break!” said the lumberjack.
The moral of the story is that a blunt sore leads to tiresome, exasperating and demotivating work. In order to be highly effective in body, mind, heart and soul, we need to ‘sharpen our saw’ on a regular basis.
We need to care for our bodies with nourishing food and a programme of exercise. We need to care for our minds with continuous learning. We need to care for our souls with meditation and relaxation. And we need to care for our hearts by making time for ourselves and the people we love.
If we follow Covey’s advice, creating clarity of purpose, developing the skills to elicit change and making time for good habits, we can transform ourselves. We can use these skills in any part of life, including mastering our weight for good.
Does Covey’s theory resonate with you? What is your purpose and mission? Let us know in the comments below.