Practice Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
To “Sharpen the Saw” means preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have—you. It means having a balanced program for self-renewal. This may sound intimidating, but it’s actually much simpler than it sounds. It could include taking care of your body by eating right, exercising, and getting the right amount of sleep. It’s spending time with family and friends; taking the time to learn in new ways and in new places; finding meaningful ways to help others. In a nutshell, Habit 7 is about taking care of yourself by doing the things you already enjoy doing, focusing on renewal, and finding new areas of personal enjoyment.
However, in our busy lives this is also the habit that usually falls through the cracks, because everything else feels so pressing. Here are a few ways you can make this habit a priority and continue to take care of yourself.
Make Sharpening the Saw a “Big Rock”. Stephen R. Covey taught that Big Rocks are the non-negotiables that we schedule and work to accomplish first. For most people, self-care isn’t a priority; they only do it if they “have time”. However, our lives are far too busy to assume we’ll have extra time available at an unknown later date to finally make ourselves a priority. So as you plan your week, block out time each day for your Sharpening the Saw activities as part of your Big Rock calendaring.
Start small. There’s no need to throw out all of your junk food and start a crazy diet so you can “be more healthy”. Don’t suddenly sign up for a gym membership or block out an entire day to start and finish a creative project. If you don’t feel like you can even dedicate an hour, simply do what you can. If you only have 10 minutes, use it to do something that will Sharpen your Saw daily. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.
Do Things You Love. Instead of looking at Sharpening the Saw as doing things you should be doing, instead look at it as doing things you already enjoy. Pick up an old hobby, have a movie night with your family, spend quality time with an old friend, or try a new restaurant. These are the things that will reinvigorate you and give you the energy you need to continue working at your highest potential.
Feeling good doesn’t just happen. Living a life in balance is taking the necessary time to renew yourself. Without this renewal, the body becomes weak, the mind mechanical, the emotions raw, and the spirit insensitive. Not a pretty picture, is it? Sharpening the Saw keeps you fresh so you can continue to practice the other six habits and increase your capacity to produce and handle the challenges around you.