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: