I admit to being one who feels that February is the longest month of the year. When that feeling begins to take hold, I remember that I can fight back. Respond. Be proactive. Habit #1 in Stephen Covey’s best-seller about the seven habits of highly effective people is to be proactive. It is about taking responsibility for your life.
“You can’t keep blaming everything on your parents or grandparents. Proactive people recognize that they are “response-able.” They don’t blame genetics, circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior. They know they choose their behavior. Reactive people, on the other hand, are often affected by their physical environment. They find external sources to blame for their behavior. If the weather is good, they feel good. If it isn’t, it affects their attitude and performance, and they blame the weather. All of these external forces act as stimuli that we respond to. Between the stimulus and the response is your greatest power — you have the freedom to choose your response.” (emphasis added)
Yesterday’s weather in the DC region captured February perfectly for me. Dark, cold and damp with a wintery mix that lasted all day. But instead of hunkering down, I chose to brave the elements to go see Lady Bird, in the annual quest Candice and I have to watch as many of the best picture nominees as possible. I chose not to watch the Super Bowl. We all have choices, and I have to remember — all 28 days of the month — that I have the freedom to be able to respond to outside stimuli or conditions. That’s the key to responsibility. There is much more in our lives that we control than perhaps we’ll admit to ourselves. A recent blog entitled You Are In Control of Most Things in Your Life, So Start Acting Like It got much of this right.
“When you start really thinking about what you do control, you start to realize that the circumstances aren’t the question. The question is: what are you going to do now?
Because you control what you read. You control what you put into your body. You control how you respond to the people around you, and you control who you allow into your life. You control how you respond to injustice. You control the job applications you do or don’t send. You control how much time you spend online.
You control your hygiene and style and whether or not you exercise. You control what kind of treatment you will tolerate. You control what you’ll do at work today. You control whether or not you try. You control whether or not you try again. You control when you decide it’s time to “give up.” You control whether or not you learn from your mistakes, you control whether you see breakups as punishments or opportunities to find someone better. You control what you post online. You control who you follow. You control what you write down. You control not what you think, but what you believe.
You control how you treat the people closest to you. You control whether or not you schedule your time and set reminders. You control the tidiness of your home. You control whether you learn to cook. You control not always how much money you have, but whether or not you manage it….You control whether or not you become the person you always wanted to be.
You control what you say. You control what you do with feedback – and everything is feedback. You control the big picture, even if you don’t control the road bumps along the way. You control whether or not you go get help, even if you don’t heal overnight. You control your self-image, even if you disagree with how others see you. You control what you think is possible, by virtue of going out and seeing what is. You control your sphere of influence.
What you don’t control is other people, but you don’t need to. All of the things that build real meaning, and true happiness, like purpose, and community, and self-image, and grit, and resilience, and love? That’s self-generated. That’s all on you.”
Recognizing that you are in control of most things in your life seems to be a good thing to remember as we start into February…the longest month.
Have a good week.