Start with a clear destination in mind. We can use our imagination to develop a vision of what we want to become and use our conscience to decide what values will guide us.
Most of us find it rather easy to busy ourselves. We work hard to achieve victories — promotions, higher income, and more recognition. But we don’t often stop to evaluate the meaning behind this busyness, behind these victories — we don’t ask ourselves if these things that we focus on so intently are what really matter to us.
In everything we do, we should begin with the end in mind. Start with a clear destination. That way, we can make sure the steps we’re taking are in the right direction.
Our self-awareness empowers us to shape our own lives, instead of living our lives by default, or based on the standards or preferences of others.
Beginning with the end in mind is also extremely important for businesses. Being a manager is about optimizing for efficiency. But being a leader is about setting the right strategic vision for your organization in the first place, and asking, “What are we trying to accomplish?”
Before we as individuals or organizations can start setting and achieving goals, we must be able to identify our values. This process may involve some re-scripting to be able to assert our own personal values.
Re-scripting, is recognizing ineffective scripts that have been written for you, and changing those scripts by proactively writing new ones that are built of your own values.
It is also important to identify our center. Whatever is at the center of our life will be the source of our security, guidance, wisdom, and power.
Our centers affect us fundamentally — they determine our daily decisions, actions, and motivations, as well as our interpretation of events.
However, none of these centers are optimal, and that instead we should strive to be principle-centered. We should identify the timeless, unchanging principles by which we must live our lives. This will give us the guidance that we need to align our behaviors with our beliefs and values.
Challenge yourself to test the principle of beginning with the end in mind by doing the following:
- Visualize in rich detail your own funeral.Who is there? What are they saying about you? About how you lived your life? About the relationships you had? What do you want them to say? Think about how your priorities would change if you only had 30 more days to live. Start living by these priorities.
- Break down different roles in your life— whether professional, personal, or community — and list three to five goals you want to achieve for each.
- Define what scares you. Public speaking? Critical feedback after writing a book? Write down the worst-case scenario for your biggest fear, and then visualize how you’ll handle this situation. Write down exactly how you’ll handle it.
It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in an activity trap, in the busyness of life, to work harder and harder at climbing the ladder of success only to discover that it’s leaning against the wrong wall.” -Stephen Covey