“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.