Friday marked six full weeks since summer began. It also marked the first day of the second half of the summer, at least for me. Yet, summer vacation for a teacher is more than just days; it is time to do, to experience, and to sit back reflect and rejuvenate for the coming year. It is the time to do what was leftover or incomplete from the school year and to work on those summer projects. It is also a time for New Year’s resolutions.My planner runs from July to June: I archive my old planning pages and discard the oldest year each year. I started with a paper years ago and gradually shifted to an electronic planner with printed pages when I began teaching twelve years ago. It works, but I begin each year with good intentions and I end the year with intentions of getting better. Before I became a teacher, I was in the restaurant business. During the summer of 1994, the restaurant I was managing closed for renovation – it would reopen in the fall bigger and better than ever. It was the summer the new cottage was finished and it was a summer with an extra long vacation for a restaurant manager – four weeks. Most importantly, it was the summer I first heard of Dr. Stephen Covey, his work, and his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Earlier in the year, I attended a time management seminar by Day-Timer, a planner company, that focused on using their product to get the most out of their product and I got new planning system, theirs. I took away a few new ideas and tips from the seminar, but I learned of Dr. Covey and his work and purchased the book. Since that summer, I have worked at incorporating his ideas about time and life management into my life. It has not been easy and I have since switched planners to FranklinCovey where the synergy of Benjamin Franklin’s ideas melds with Dr. Covey’s principle-centered approach. Since that summer, much has changed in my life: I changed companies, I went back to school, William was born, I changed careers, I changed schools, Olivia was born, and I changed what I teach. Yet, one thing has remained constant – the desire to grow as a person and get more from the time I have been given.
Dr. Covey divided the habits into three areas: Personal Victory, Public Victory, and Renewal. The habits include in PRIVATE VICTORY are Habit 1: Be Proactive, Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind, and Habit 3: Put First Things First. The habits included in PUBLIC VICTORY are Habit 4: Think Win\Win,Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood, and Habit 6: Synergize. RENEWAL includes the seventh and final habit, Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw. Since Dr. Covey published his work in the late 80s, he has written additional books including The Eighth Habit. I have read the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People several times, each time I read it I take something new, something different I can apply in my life. Earlier this year frustrated by circumstances I had created for myself I chose to download several episodes from the audio series and load them on my iTouch. I have yet to listen to them, I have a plan, but my own inertia of ineffectiveness has worked against me.
It takes twenty-one days to develop a new habit with the days remaining in my summer I can develop two new habits by summer’s end. Today marks the first day of my re-developing Habit 1: Be Proactive. According to Dr. Covey, my life is a sum of the choices I make and I can choose to do different. I can choose to make better choices. This may seem self-evident, but I do not believe I behave this way? Most of the time I use the language of a reactive person – ‘I have to,’ ‘I can’t do this, I have to do this,’ ‘… if only’ and so on. Instead, I need to use the language of a proactive person – ‘I choose to,’ ‘I prefer to,’ ‘yes,’’ no,’ I must,’ and ‘I will.’
Friday at the cottage was spent well. The weather had shifted as forecast and it was warm and much drier. The morning had been chilly in the upper 50s and we waved goodbye to Grandma and Grandpa. We worked on chores in the cottage in the morning and midday. By afternoon, we were ready to go out on the boat. It was windy, the lake was choppy, and we searched the lake for a calmer spot final settling on the western corner nearest the boat ramp. William started tubing, then Olivia, and finally me. Yes, I tubed. Beth laughed and so did William, but I climbed on; Beth gunned the boat, turning the boat to swing me from side to side trying to lodge me from the tube into the water. I shifted my weight from side to side trying to stay on and noticed the tube change and I was in the water. The tube and disintegrated under me with the canvas covering ripped open and shredded. The tube had been ripped before and repaired but I was the final straw that ripped it open for good. So ended our tubing for the day. We motored home and had cold BBQ chicken and salad on the deck.
It was a great day. Tomorrow and the days to come will bring new adventures or old adventures discovered anew. It is going to be a great day. I can, I will, I choose to make the day the best day ever.