“People are working harder than ever, but because they lack clarity and vision, they aren’t getting very far. They, in essence, are pushing a rope with all of their might.” – Dr Stephen R. Covey

What does it really mean to begin with the end in mind? According to Dr Stephen R. Covey, this is based primarily on imagination and the principle that everything is created twice – the mental creation and physical creation. This exercise is important because the physical manifestation of things is a product of their mental creations (a bit like storytelling stories about your future self). Beginning with the end in mind means that you should have a mental picture of what you want your life, family, or career to look like before pursuing it. So, let’s have a little mental exercise…

Imagine yourself going to a funeral ceremony. You get into the hall, and you find people dressed in black. You know it’s a sad atmosphere because you can hear people sniffling and others crying. You can hear the song “see you again” playing in the background, and it gives you chills. There’s a casket in front of the room surrounded by beautiful flowers. You can see a silhouette moving toward the front preparing to deliver the eulogy…

Now, imagine looking into the casket and seeing your dead body. Yes! It’s your own funeral. By now you should have a clear picture of the people you would imagine being present in the hall or the people who are absent. Are they family members? Friends? Colleagues? Who does the silhouette you saw earlier morph into? Your husband? Wife? Or Son? Think about what that person would say about you and more importantly, what you would like that person to say about you. Think about that person’s storytelling stories about you – what will they entail? Why? Because they represent what you value in life.

Why is it Important to Begin with the End in Mind?

1. It gives you clarity

Beginning with the end in mind will provide more clarity in many aspects of your life. Think about the mental exercise you did earlier. What did you want your eulogy to sound like? Did you hear your wife say you were always there for your family? Did she say you still opened the door for her after 20 years of marriage? Was your son’s storytelling stories about the wonderful moments you spent together? What did your colleagues say about your work ethic? This exercise gives you a clearer picture of your values, which can later act as a blueprint for their physical manifestations.

This exercise does not just help you clarify what you value in life. It can be used in almost all aspects of your life. For example, if you want to lose weight, having a clear picture of what you want to look like in the future will help clarify your journey – will help you know how many pounds you want to lose, know the type of exercises you need to do, and the foods you need to eat. In a nutshell, your next move is clear because you know the path to take.

2. It gives you a purpose

When you begin with the end in mind, and your values are clear, you gain purpose. You can clearly define what success means to you. You can wake up every morning and do something that truly matters to you.

A lot of people lack fulfillment in their lives because they are climbing a success ladder leaning on the wrong wall. They are pursuing other people’s goals or definitions of success – they lack purpose. Knowing your purpose helps you to focus more on what you want and doing what you need to do to achieve it.

Beginning with the end in mind helps you determine the mission statement for your life, career or any task you wish to accomplish. It empowers you to mold your life into the shape you really want. Thereby leaving a legacy worthy of remembrance.

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28 Comments

Adaego M. Azi · January 28, 2020 at 10:33 pm

I can’t say this is something I have ever thought about before. I guess when you are young, the last thing in the world you think about is dying. I used to always think that your legacy was all the money and property you left behind for your family. I have been watching television and reading on the internet about Kobe Bryant’s death🙏💕, and whenever someone asks about his legacy, no one ever talks about money–they always talk about “excellence”, “the way he loved this wife and daughters”, and how “he supported women’s sports”. I have been looking at legacy all wrong. Thanks, duppydomTEAM. I really like this article.

    duppydomTEAM · January 29, 2020 at 8:09 pm

    Thank you Adaego – we are glad to hear that you liked the article. Money and property can refer to legacy, particularly when they pertain to the futures of children who are left behind. Though, you are correct, legacy typically pertains to the life the person lived and the values/virtues s/he stood for. Kobe Bryant has left a legacy that will affect the world for decades to come. 💌🌎

      Adaego M. Azi · February 1, 2020 at 7:18 am

      Thank you 👌

Amara Kone · January 29, 2020 at 2:56 am

My favorite Stephen Covey habit is “begin with the end in mind” (Seven Habits of Highly Effective People), so I particularly like this article. As the article indicates, you can apply this Habit to any aspect of your life. And I would recommend that everyone create their own personal mission and vision statement – good exercises to put your current goals/values and future goals/routes on paper.

    duppydomTEAM · January 29, 2020 at 8:08 pm

    Amara – thank you for your comments. It is an excellent idea to create a personal mission and vision statement. Your mission statement can simply be a succinct statement outlining how you want to live your life and can include operating/guiding principles that you should refer to when making important life decisions. Your vision statement(s) should be conceptualizations of yourself in future states (e.g., 5 years, 10 years, 25 years). You should also refer to your vision statement(s) when making important life decisions 🕑🕛

      Adaego M. Azi · February 1, 2020 at 7:19 am

      👏

      Amara Kone · February 4, 2020 at 10:49 pm

      Thank you for the link. I like the concept of “conceptualizations of yourself in future states.”

Lisa Steffler · January 29, 2020 at 5:10 am

duppydomTEAM – very interesting article. I think when we reach a certain age, we all start thinking about our legacy – what mark are we going to leave on the world – what mark are we going to leave for our children. That’s quite the “little mental exercise”! But it does make you think about the values that you stand for. And when you leave this world and people talk about you (particularly your children), what values will they say you stood for? This is very important to me.

    duppydomTEAM · January 29, 2020 at 8:07 pm

    Thank you, Lisa. You have done a very good job underlying the crux of the article. You have also centered on an important point – exhibiting proper values when we are alive, so we can instill them in our children🎁, who will perpetuate them when they carry on our legacy.

      Adaego M. Azi · February 1, 2020 at 7:20 am

      👏

S. Jakes · January 29, 2020 at 5:55 am

It’s a bit eerie, but I have thought about who would attend my funeral and what they would say about me. I think it’s something everyone thinks about every now and again – particularly when we know of or hear about someone dying. I like the idea of beginning with the end in mind. It makes sense to me. It would be like thinking about going on a trip and planning your way on google maps first – it would give clarity and purpose. Thank you duppydom 👏

    duppydomTEAM · January 29, 2020 at 8:07 pm

    S. Jakes – thank you for sharing. “Begin with the end in mind” definitely makes sense, particularly when you are dealing with something like your legacy ⌛⏳ . As you are alluding to, legacy refers to “how you will wish you had lived when you are looking back from the end of your life.”

      Adaego M. Azi · February 1, 2020 at 7:21 am

      👏

Nadine Wu · January 29, 2020 at 7:26 am

This might sound like an odd comment, but even though the article is about death and legacy, I find it somewhat motivational. I have been very overwhelmed and heartbroken about the death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, along with the other seven people who died. But the takeaway from the inspirational life that he lived is to work hard to accomplish what you want in life, but at the same time take care of the ones you love. This is the kind of legacy that I want to leave.

    duppydomTEAM · January 29, 2020 at 8:06 pm

    Nadine – your comments are very much appreciated. You are absolutely right; Kobe Bryant’s greatest legacy is inspiring others to live a great and balanced life 🌞☀

      Adaego M. Azi · February 1, 2020 at 7:22 am

      👏

Bruce Peters · January 30, 2020 at 2:37 am

duppydomTEAM – I love everything Stephen Covey, so you had me sold at the title of the article. I have to say that this is probably the best blog article I have read on this site – this really appeals to me. Actually, I started thinking about my legacy soon after my son was born. I try to live my life as a good example for him and hopefully when I am gone, I will have left a good legacy for him to follow. I have had personal mission and visions statements for years and I update them every January 1st – I think of them as my New Year’s resolutions.

    duppydomTEAM · January 30, 2020 at 1:30 pm

    Bruce, thank you for the nice words and your comments. It’s not uncommon for people to start thinking about their legacy after having their first child 👨‍👦. Awesome approach to think of edits to your mission and vision statement as your New Year’s resolution – love that idea!

      Bruce Peters · February 10, 2020 at 1:15 am

      Thank you.

    Adaego M. Azi · February 1, 2020 at 7:24 am

    💖🤗

Amie Warwick · January 30, 2020 at 7:12 am

My husband and I recently got our will and living will drafted…geeze, now I have to start thinking about my legacy 😊. If I’m being honest, I have thought about it, but only in regard to having children and setting a good example for them. Over the last few days, everyone has been talking about Kobe’s legacy and I agree with Nadine; that is the kind of legacy I would like to leave for my children. I also liked the ““little mental exercise”” – many times, my husband and I have talked about who would come to our funeral and what they would say about us. Although it never occurred to me that I could somewhat influence what they might say.

    duppydomTEAM · January 30, 2020 at 1:30 pm

    Amie – because your legacy refers to the values and virtues you leave as a template for others to follow, you do not have wait until you have children 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 – someone’s legacy can impact people they did not even know (just think about Kobe Bryant’s legacy). And of course, the practice of beginning with the end in mind does not only apply to creating a legacy, you can apply this process to any part of your life, even your marriage 💑. Thank you for sharing.

      Adaego M. Azi · February 1, 2020 at 7:26 am

      👏

    Adaego M. Azi · February 1, 2020 at 7:25 am

    💖🤗

D'Gauntlett · February 2, 2020 at 12:54 pm

This is an awesome duppydom I never thought I’d read anywhere. Over the years I have been told by family and friends alike that I need help with my far-fetch way of thinking. Cant help but smile as I read this post. Back in 1968 living in Montreal, my friend Patsy and I used our lunch break to mentally map out the new life we were going to create once we arrived in Toronto.
Finding jobs, husbands, buying a home and going back to school, etc. And how we’d deal with failure if it happened. That was one year before making the move. Over time we implemented all of it.

As for my funeral, I have a partial idea as to how it’s going to be. I’ve already chosen the participants. The photos, songs for my program and yellow roses to be placed on my coffin by my beloved children in order of birth. Only thing left is to complete my video message. Some Folks shiver at the thought, but it’s a natural part of living. Preparing now means less stress and confusion for loved ones in their time of grief.
One thing is for sure, beginning with the end is a way to avoid great disappointments. Thanks Team duppydom, another great read.

    duppydomTEAM · February 4, 2020 at 6:06 am

    D’Gauntlett – we are very happy that you enjoyed the article. You are correct, beginning with the end in mind is a great way to avoid disappointments. One of the points the article stresses is the fact that beginning with the end in mind doesn’t only refer to creating a great legacy; it also applies to every aspect of life, as the example of you and your friend mentally mapping your new life in Toronto attests to – thank you for the great example. Yes, many people shudder at the thought of planning their own funeral. My only recommendation is to make sure your family members are aware of your plans and wishes 🎶 💐. Thank you for your thoughts.

Mick · May 22, 2020 at 4:46 pm

This is an amazing post. I love Stephen Covey too and have read the 7 habits of highly effective people over 10 times. It’s one I re-read every 2-3 months or so. And it’s so unfortunate that most people are working their ass off – yet not moving much in life. I’ve written an article on how to write a personal mission statement, prioritizing self-awareness. Let me know what you think DuppydomTeam! Link: https://insideoutmastery.com/personal-mission-statement/

    duppydomTEAM · May 28, 2020 at 8:02 pm

    Mick – thank you very much for your comments 👏 We are glad that you liked the article. Stephen Covey’s writings and workshops have become very popular for those who are concerned with personal growth and success. You are on the right track re-reading the 7 Habits regularly – it doesn’t hurt to rehash the Habits from time to time. Thank you very much for the information regarding writing a personal mission statement. We liked the fact that you emphasized self-awareness. “Knowing thyself” is not only critically important when writing a personal mission statement, it is also important when creating a great legacy 💥

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