SERIES: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Author Stephen Covey)

May 11th, 2016

Habit 3: Put First Things First

“It is easy to say “no!” when there’s a deeper “yes!” burning inside.” ~Stephen Covey

As we continue our journey through the “7 Habits”, we will build upon our discussion of being proactive and making choices. We have also talked about envisioning, setting and working towards our ultimate goals. Part of this process involves finding a balance in managing our life’s values, roles, and priorities. We put first things first by managing our time through focusing on the priorities we envisioned in habit #2.

What does “putting first things first” mean?
We all know what it means to prioritize. However, different pressures and circumstances can easily distract us from where we prefer or intend to spend our time. We finally schedule some time to work on a project or on our hobby, and then our long lost friend wants to get together. We haven’t seen them in quite some time, and if we don’t say yes to their invitation, it may be a long time until we see them again because we have so much going on. These conflicts are common, and while there is no right decision, it can be difficult to say no when another’s emotions might be involved.

However, life is about balance. We can’t always say no to ourselves and yes to someone else’s priorities. The answer lies somewhere in focusing on our highest priorities. If our highest priority is to work on that novel we’ve been wanting to write, then friends may have to wait. If our highest priority is building and maintaining friendships, then hobbies will be put aside. It sounds simple, but in the moment when life is hectic and emotions are complex, reminding ourselves of our highest priorities, the ones we want to look back on having accomplished at the end of our lives, can help us not overextend ourselves in directions that will not get us there.

How does that apply to my personal and professional development?
If our professional growth is one of those “first things”, we need to take inventory of who and what will get us to where we want to go. Our primary goals and principles should guide us into focusing on what is important, and not necessarily urgent. Some “urgent” matters can wait and some important matters are not urgent. However, if your kitchen is on fire – that is urgent and important so feel free to take care of that first!

Thinking about the things that are important but not urgent is a focus on the long term. Exercising – there’s little immediate gain, but in the long run there is a huge benefit. Going back to school, or any type of professional education, is a huge investment of time and money. It’s not urgent, but its importance lies in the long term gain of becoming more effective in our profession.

What can I do?
We need to put the big rocks in the jar first. We all have an empty jar that represents our time. If we put all the unimportant things in first, there will be no room for the important ones. If we put the big, important values and goals in first, the other things somehow find a way to fit in around them. A continual reassessment of our values will help us on a daily or weekly basis manage our time and activities.

Part of this process can involve setting boundaries. Not letting others determine how we spend our time is an important step. This could be with family, colleagues, or clients. Others will let their needs (perhaps unwittingly) crowd out ours. By making a schedule or plan for our day, week, etc…and sticking to it, we can include other’s needs at times that make the most sense for us and our goals.

Focusing on our ultimate goals will help us find a time and place for everything and everyone else. As we feel more fulfilled by pursuing the things that matter most to us, everything else will naturally become part of our support system and something to be enjoyed rather than a hindrance to our destination. And the things that don’t really matter will naturally find their place or fade away.

See “First Things First” illustrated in the video attached here:

SERIES: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Author Stephen Covey)

April 12th, 2016

Habit 2: Begin With the End in Mind

In a continuation of our series on “The 7 Habits”, we will build upon Habit #1 which involved being proactive in determining our responses. One of the questions we were encouraged to ask ourselves was, “Where are my energies focused?” Habit #2, as will be discussed below, encompasses focusing our time and energy on our end game – “beginning with the end in mind”.

“If you don’t know where you are going, than you probably won’t end up there.” ~Forrest Gump

What does being beginning with the end in mind mean?

Our wise friend “Forrest, Forrest Gump” put it simply above – you need to know where you are going in order to get there. When you embark on any journey, there is usually a destination in mind. There are many destinations, or milestones, we reach in life. What do we want to be, to have, to have accomplished when we get there? How do we know if the steps we are taking are going to get us there? Beginning with the end in mind means we take control (see habit #1 “Be Proactive”) and choose our thoughts and actions. We have taken the time to outline our purpose and our ultimate goals. We set the stage for taking deliberate steps in a specific direction.

How does that apply to my professional development?
We are all at different phases of life when it comes to our jobs and education. Perhaps we are presently unemployed and looking for work. Maybe we are working, but want a change or a receive a promotion. Possibly we are at the end of a long career and looking to transition into a different focus in life. Focusing on what we ultimately want to achieve in these areas will give us focus and open up opportunities where we may not be looking. It’s similar to the phenomenon of buying a new car. You buy a blue Toyota, and now everywhere you go, you see blue Toyotas. Focusing on our ultimate destination will have the same effect. Everything we experience will be one more thing connected to that final goal.

What can I do?
Covey advocates writing a personal mission statement. That can seem daunting, especially if we are trying to capture our life’s achievements on a piece of paper. There is no reason we can’t scale it down a bit. Let’s start with the end of the week. What do I want to have accomplished by the end of this week? Maybe we want to have had a job interview or finish a big project. Maybe our goals are more personal and we want to stop a bad habit or start a good one.

Whatever our mini-mission may be, writing it down as if it is a reality can really help. For example, my personal mission statement for this week could look like: I will have finished another blog post by Friday (almost there!). This is a shorter term focus than Covey advocates for, but I always find starting small is the best way to start a new habit. Then, once we accomplish week after week of completing our mission, we can expand our view further into the future. Of course, we can also start with the end of our lives, the end of a decade, the end of the year. Whatever works for your personal circumstances and goals is the best way to go about it.

The act of writing down our mission is powerful. It will give us a feeling that what we set out to do is already done. It’s just a matter of getting there. It can help clarify what it is you truly want. It will drive you to action. It will also keep you aware of opportunities as they prevent themselves. You will be more aware of the ways in which you can accomplish your goal. It will also help you to overcome obstacles. With a tangible benchmark, you will have something to celebrate as you reach your milestones and accomplishments.

View a summary of Habit #2 here:

SERIES: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Author – Stephen Covey)

March 8th, 2016

Educator and author Dr. Stephen Covey wrote many books promoting a principle centered life. Using universal principles, he directed readers through a self-improvement process that can be applied in many areas of life. When it comes to our professional growth, these principles are just as relevant. Follow our series of blog posts as we navigate the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and how it relates to our professional development:

What does being proactive look like?
Being proactive means we take personal responsibility for our actions. We act deliberately on our decisions, not just in response to our circumstances. It entails taking initiative. Being proactive involves choosing responses based on our values and not being heavily influenced by the environment around us. The idea is that between the stimulus and response of a situation, there is the ability to choose.

How does that apply to my professional development?
One of our biggest influencers is our thoughts or “self-talk”. Our language can greatly influence whether we are reactive or proactive to a situation. For example, if we are struggling with the moving on to a new step in our career, we might find ourselves saying “I can’t find the right job” or “I must have everything I’m looking for” or “If only I had my degree”. These are reactive to our situation. However, a proactive approach might sound like “I choose to look for something that provides work/life balance”, “I prefer a position that provides flexibility”, or “I will obtain the education I need”.

What can I do?
As with anything, self-awareness is a must. One way to make an observation about our proactivity is to make note of how we respond in the different situations we face over the next couple of weeks. As yourself:

• Do I make and keep commitments?
• How do I react to difficult individuals and co-workers?
• Where are my energies focused?
• How do I respond in stressful situations (such as traffic jams)?

Once we are aware of where and when we are reactive rather than proactive, we can begin to practice changing our thoughts and our language. Our effectiveness in all roles and relationships will greatly improve with time and a proactive attitude in our professional advancement.

Watch and listen to Dr. Covey here:

Employee Involvement Programs Drive Performance

January 29th, 2016

Capture your employees’ creativity and ideas! Why is this important? As the following article shows, it improves motivation and morale. It can foster an environment of continuous learning with improved communication and processes.


Turn an Assignment Into a Job Offer!

December 22nd, 2015

A temporary assignment can be more than just a short term opportunity.  Being open to temporary work while searching for your next permanent position, can help you land the job you are looking for.

Want to turn that temporary assignment into a permanent job?


ACA 2016

December 8th, 2015

ACA 2016Just when you think you’ve wrapped your head around the Affordable Care Act, more changes come along.  The financial impact is foremost on the minds of employers.  Find out more about how to plan ahead and mitigate costs:

Become a Retention Ninja!

November 10th, 2015

Become a RETENTION NINJA:Keep your top performers. And stay comp

Voluntary quits are at their highest level since 2008. When pay raises aren’t an option, what can you do to keep your best people content — and out of competitors’ clutches? This special report shares the practical advice you need to master employee retention:


November 4th, 2015



There are many benefits to registering with a staffing company.  Being open to temporary work can help you find a permanent job and move ahead in your career.  The following slideshow highlights these many benefits:

How has working with a staffing company helped you?  Please share your experiences, and if you would like to explore this avenue further, please visit our candidate resource center at

Rein in Information Overload

October 14th, 2015

“There are many things of which a wise man might wish to be ignorant.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson, American philosopher

We are bombarded with information all day long. Learn how to control information overload and keep it from overwhelming your work day:

Mapping Your Career Path

September 24th, 2015

Is your progress up the career ladder defined by chance or by conscious choice? Map your Career Path with effective methods for moving up the career ladder: