“This is the single most powerful investment we can ever make in life—investment in ourselves, in the only instrument we have with which to deal with life and to contribute.” – Stephen R. Covey
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw is all about self-renewal. Stephen R. Covey calls it Balanced Self-Renewal because in order to feel fully renewed you need to focus on each dimension of your nature.
Remember Aesop’s fable about the countryman with the goose that laid golden eggs? His goose laid one golden egg each day and the man grew rich, but with time he became impatient. Why should he wait to get the golden eggs one at a time? So in an attempt to get all the eggs at once, he killed the goose—but found no golden eggs inside. Now he had no way to get more.
If we aren’t mindful, we could do similar damage to ourselves. If we don’t take time to sharpen our saw, we will wear out, grow weak, or fall behind until we are no longer able to provide or produce what we would like.
Imagine you have a desk job as well as a 45-minute commute. This would mean that you are sitting for nearly ten hours each workday. That’s horrible for your health. If you don’t schedule physical exercise into your day, your muscles will atrophy and you’ll become weak. Eventually you’ll find it difficult to do the activities you enjoy such as hiking or running with your kids. So even though you’ve put loads of effort into your job, you’ve become lopsided.
Habit 7 is preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have—you. It’s renewing the four dimensions of your nature—physical, spiritual, mental, and social/emotional.
“We are the instruments of our own performance, and to be effective, we need to recognize the importance of taking time regularly to sharpen the saw in all four ways.” – Stephen R. Covey
Benjamin Franklin reminds us, “You can do anything you set your mind to.” We’re all motivated by our desires. We hope, we dream, we look ahead and project a spark of inspiration onto an imagined future reality. As we set to work to create that reality to the best of our ability, we feel joy and satisfaction. We realize that happiness is directly tied to our ability to work toward the things that matter most to us. Franklin and his fellow founders referred to this as the pursuit of happiness. We find fulfillment in that pursuit even before we reach the desired end.
We can’t pursue our desires with a dull saw. This is what personal goals are all about—improving and enhancing your ability to perform and produce. They’re about growth. Your personal improvement begins with a close, honest look at yourself, your roles, and what you would like to achieve for yourself physically, spiritually, mentally, and social/emotionally?
Weekly Compass® Cards fit perfectly into a Pouch Pagefinder and help you focus on each of these four areas. They’re also divided into sections with room to write weekly goals for each of your roles. Imagine how your life would improve if you focused efforts each week toward these goals.
Don’t just make outrageous goals that will take forever to accomplish. Break your long-term goals down into smaller short-term goals, and break those smaller goals into bite-sized steps that you can schedule into your daily plans.
It sounds simple, but setting goals and working toward them is the secret to pursuing your idea of happiness. Open your planner and get started today!
Download this Habit 7 worksheet for your planner!