Begin with the end in mind.. “If you don’t know where you’re going, every road will lead you nowhere.” ~Henry Kissinger
When I was a kid, I loved listening to the radio. The people I heard on the air always seemed to be having a blast. They were playing music I loved and brought an energy to the things they said in between. And they got paid for this! From the time I was about 7, my dream was to become one of them. I began to study everything I could about these people, the tools they used, how they prepared for their careers and the little things that separated the good from the great.
I painted a picture in my mind of myself already having achieved my dream and began to act as if I was on an inevitable course to make it come true.
There were many obstacles for sure, but the law of cause and effect was in full force and I did become the person I had so vividly imagined.
This was way before Stephen Covey first taught us about the Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, but I had learned how to “Begin With The End In Mind”.
Condoleezza Rice succinctly articulated the American dream when she wrote, “..with education and hard work, it really does not matter where you came from; it matters only where you are going.”
The first step to visualizing meaningful goals is self reflection.
Motivational philosopher, Iyanla Vanzant believes that, “You cannot get to where you are going until you have learned all there is to learn about where you are.”
What are the moments where you feel the greatest sense of joy and accomplishment? For many, these may be the key to “purpose”, the ultimate “End In Mind”.
What about your current definition of self would you most like to improve? Those insights can reveal opportunities for transformation that can sweep away self imposed limitations and open you mind to rich new vistas.
The exercise of answering these two key questions in writing will crystallize both your current state and clarify whether or not the “end” you may be thinking about is really what you want.
As you start to articulate your desired outcomes, don’t be afraid to change course.
As my mentor, Jim Collins says, the reason it’s crucial to know who you are is because, “where you are going will change as the world around you changes.”
Victoria Rabin, writing in Inc Magazine takes this a step further: “When you change, the world around you changes.”
With the seasoning of time the answer to the key question my buddy, the renown trainer and author, Brian Willis, likes to ask, “What’s important now?” will inevitably evolve.
Take time to periodically reassess where you are headed. Is it still relevant to the person you are becoming?
Our stories are much like Pictures at an Exhibition. We are continually creating new art. The images become more vivid with experience, but the scenery may change.
The Franklin Covey Website articulates beginning with the end in mind this way: “The physical creation follows the mental, just as a building follows a blueprint. If you don’t make a conscious effort to visualize who you are and what you want in life, then you empower other people and circumstances to shape you and your life by default. It’s about connecting again with your own uniqueness and then defining the personal, moral, and ethical guidelines within which you can most happily express and fulfill yourself.”
Those who have benefited from integrating “Beginning with the end in mind” into their daily routines will tell you that this is not an easy process. And it never ends. Like any worthwhile endeavor, it is a muscle that, when continually exercised, gets stronger.
This week’s assignment: Paint your own picture of the key goals you are chasing. Make it a Technicolor masterpiece, rich in visual detail, poetic in verbal expression.
A recent piece I wrote about dancing with my granddaughter got me to thinking about the outcome I seek every time I sweep her into my arms and whisper the words to “Save The Last Dance For Me” into her ear. I imagine her, grown up, living a joyful, productive life, passing on the concept unconditional love to the next generation of Westermans, just as I hope I’m doing for her.
There are many “Ends” we ponder when we try to visualize the desired outcome before we start every journey. In the end, we will realize that it’s the journey and not the goal where adventures occur and the real magic happens.
Start by painting the picture. And let the journey begin!