“Begin With The End In Mind” is the second of seven life-success habits set forth in Stephen Covey’s best-selling book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” That sounds good, but what does it mean?
Covey suggests that you take a moment to imagine your own funeral. Friends and acquaintances stand up to speak about you and your life. What would you want them to say?
As far as your life is concerned, it is valuable to have a clear picture or vision of what you want to accomplish. Write it down and refer to it often, or create a \”vision board\” using pictures clipped from magazines or the web illustrating the life you want to live. It can be very powerful.
In my own experience I have found a grand vision for my life to be too much to keep in mind, so I prefer to use what I call dynamic goals. Dynamic goals are powerful and tend to evolve over time. They are not like hard and fast business goals such as “We will sell 5,000 widgets in the second quarter.” They need to be specific and visual so each dynamic goal calls up a picture in your mind. They need to evoke positive feelings as you envision them. You also need to know when you have accomplished each goal, or might do so.
A striking testimony to the power of writing down dynamic goals was provided by Lydia Gray, DVM, MA, an equine (horse) veterinarian preparing to participate in a strategic planning conference which I was facilitating. Each participant was provided an e-book draft copy of my new book “The 5 Keys To Unlimited Success & Happiness” prior to the meeting. After reading about and writing down some dynamic goals, Dr. Gray emailed the group:
“I am in the middle of Buck’s e-book and just had to give you some feedback. I’m doing the exercises as they come up, and last week had just spent some time envisioning what I would really like to be/do. It included some statements like ‘I want to be a nationally sought after speaker and writer within the equine industry’ and ‘I want to provide organizational consulting to groups’ (I have a master’s in interpersonal and organizational communication).
“Now normally, I don’t give much credence for hoping and wishing on things (not a big fan of Oprah’s Book Club’s choice ‘The Secret’). But in this case, ON THE SAME DAY I WROTE THESE THINGS DOWN, I got a request to write an article in a prominent horse magazine, I got asked to speak at the biggest dressage show in the country, and the state association of animal controls here in Illinois asked if I would facilitate their strategic planning session. Dang!
“A few days later, I was contacted about writing a book for someone. They want to meet in June to go over the details. Again, another item on the list I created after reading Buck’s book.”
So you see, this really works for people who take it seriously. You may not realize all your goals the same day you write them down, but you will most likely be surprised how soon they do come true, especially if you create and focus on your own dynamic goals.
In any situation in life you may be tempted to jump into action before doing any kind of thinking or planning. But you will be far more successful if you “Begin with the end in mind.” In a group setting, ask, “What are we trying to accomplish here? What is our purpose?” Get group consensus on the desired end result before moving into action. You will be far more successful in life if you adopt this extremely valuable habit.
Written by Buck Lawrimore, Editor