“Begin with the End in Mind” is a chapter title in Stephen Covey’s great book, the Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, but also a sage piece of advice to guide us in our daily lives. If asked to pack for a vacation how would you know what to pack? Would you want to know where you are going, how long are you will be staying, maybe what the weather will be like? Would you want to know the purpose of the vacation? Your life is no different. The things you do today: going to work, playing games, reading, hiking or running, watching television, building relationships, volunteering, even sleeping are like packing for a trip; if you pack the wrong stuff you may not enjoy your vacation. If you do things all day without a connection to your life purpose, you may not get to where you intended to go and, even if you do, it will not be an enjoyable journey. “We may be busy, we may be efficient, but we will only be effective if we begin with the end in mind” (Covey, 1990)
Begin with why.
Why do you want to go on vacation? Are you trying to relax, see the world and learn other cultures, bond with a loved one, or accomplish a feat like climbing a mountain or running a marathon?
A Personal Statement of Purpose answers the question of why for your life.
Begin with an image of the end of your life as the frame of reference by which everything else is measured. Picture yourself at your 80th birthday or your 50th wedding anniversary listening to someone talk about you. What do you want to hear?
- What a great gal. For as long as I have known her, she cared about everyone she met, she volunteered at shelters year-round and spent her vacations in Africa working to build homes.
- What a guy! He is the wealthiest man I know. He has worked hard every day of his life. I don’t think he has ever taken a vacation and because of that he built a successful company that employed thousands of people.
- She loves to compete, is fit and healthy, eats well and still works out nearly every day. She was an accomplished athlete who ran marathons in her 50’s and seems to just love life.
How do you want to be remembered?
What does your future look like?
Based on Covey’s principle that all things are created twice, a mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation , endeavors that fail often fail because of a lack of creating a clear mental image of your destination. We must think and see the outcome of our life before we can accomplish it. You have a life, you have a future, the question is, “Will your future be built by design or default?” Only you can decide. You are either your own proactive creation or you are the creation of other people’s agendas, of circumstances, or of past habits.