Beginning With The End In Mind (Habit 2)

Beginning with the End in Mind (Habit 2)

In his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey explains that all things are created twice: first in our minds, and then in reality. To create the life we want, we must start with a clear understanding of our destination. We need to know where we are going in order to take steps in the right direction. In other words, we need to Begin With The End in Mind.

To Begin With the End in Mind, we first decide what we really want our future to look like. It’s easy to get caught up in scripts – default goals and values handed to us by our social system. Everywhere we look, people and organizations are influencing us on how we should live and what we should value. These scripts may cause us to focus on what we “should” do and participate in status competitions that we likely don’t even care about. We can end up accomplishing a lot, while feeling we’ve lived a life devoid of significance. 

To avoid this fate, we must proactively rewrite the script in our life— replacing what we’ve been told to center our life on with timeless and unchanging principles and virtues that we want to embody. By formulating a Personal Mission Statement, we can connect again with our uniqueness and define the personal, moral, and ethical guidelines within which we can most happily express and fulfill ourselves.

In his book The Road to Character, David Brooks explains that there are two types of virtues: resume virtues and eulogy virtues. Resume virtues are the ones you list on your resume, the skills that you bring to the job market and that contribute to external success. For example, you may be a great salesman, a good accountant, or have a high GPA. The eulogy virtues are deeper. They’re the virtues that get talked about at your funeral, the ones that exist at the core of your being – for example: whether you are kind, brave, honest, or faithful, and what kind of relationships you formed throughout your life. These eulogy virtues are what must be considered when thinking about our end goals. What kind of person do you want to become before you die? And what actions do you need to take in order to make those hopes a reality?

In order to live a good, meaningful life, we must know what that looks like. Beginning With the End in Mind means taking time to focus on what we truly want to be and do. When we know how we want people to talk about us at the end of our life, we can start taking action now to make that scenario a reality later. We can proactively rewrite the script in our life and embody virtues that will lead to a life of significance. With the end in mind, we’ll know what we need to do, day-to-day and week-to-week, to get there.

3 Replies to “Beginning With The End In Mind (Habit 2)”

  1. I have a difficult time wrapping my head around this statement. What kind of plans would I make at this point in my life? I am 88 years old and in fairly good health. I’ve managed to recover from most of my health problems and learned to live with the ones that won’t go away. I’m tied down not by my own problems, but by being a caregiver to my husband. There are many things that I would like to do. My basic plan is to live to at least the age of 100 or longer. My memory isn’t as sharp as it once was, but I do fairly good in this area as well. I have had an amazing life, there are only a few things left on my bucket list, which I don’t imagine that I will get to because of my husband. I guess the main thing that I would like to accomplish at this point is to be a strong, patient, and caring mate for my husband. I don’t feel that I have accomplished this some days. I am open to suggestions on what the end in mind should be. I did purchase a book from Franklin Planner called When I’m Gone. My info, Wishes, and Thoughts. However, as an old song goes, “I want to think about living . . .”

  2. I just finished Season 1 of “1883” which is a tale of the hardships that pioneers faced in traveling from Texas to Oregon. There is a young 17-year-old character named Elsa and a trail boss named Shea. *Spoiler alert* — In the last episode Shea is talking to Elsa’s dad and saying, “I’m 75 years old and she out-lived me…she out-loved me, out-smiled me, out-fought me…” It was a beautiful eulogy about a life well-lived and being in the present moment. My goal and prayer is to make the most of every moment and be “present” so I can collect the full memory of that experience whether with my loved-ones or alone. My husband and I will retire next year, and I look forward to the adventures we will have in this new chapter of our life. I have journaled about how I see us spending our days whether a few or many.

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