Start With the End in Mind

the-endI’ve been on a reading tear for the last few months. This month I went through three books! The book I’m reading right now is “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and it really has me thinking. Habit number two is starting with the end in mind.

In the book he takes you through a visualization of the very end, your funeral. What would you want said of you? How would you want people to remember you? The purpose of the exercise is to get you thinking about what is most important to you. There are many stories about how people were busy with life and worried about all the little details when all the sudden they were diagnosed with some terminal disease. Everything changed from that moment on for them.

I know its not fun to think about the end. There is a unpleasant, unknown aspect to that day but it really does give you some perspective. Although the person diagnosed with the terminal disease doesn’t want that condition, it brings a certain focus on the important things in life. All the sudden the details that bothered them before seem unimportant.

The point of the exercise is to think about what is most important to you. What are those principles that define you as a person? Bring focus on those and let the other stuff fade away.

This is the point at which the book leaves you as the reader to work out the principles that are most important to you. I want to leave you with an example. I’ve thought about that day a few times and there always seems to be one constant thing that I wanted to be said of me. I want to be the person that helped others reach their dreams. That, for some reason, gives me the greatest joy. I have boiled that down into some other principles that are important to me as well. I’m focused on impact. Does it really improve people’s lives? How many people does this touch? I am also focused on character. I want to be real with people so they can be real with me. How can I ever help you reach your dreams if you are too afraid to share them with me?

I have never heard a stupid dream. In order for something to be stupid, it has to be logical. I make the argument that a dream is not logical. If your dream is logical then you aren’t dreaming big enough.

Focus on the things that are most important to you. The first step in that process is figuring out what those things are. I don’t think it can be figured out in the matter of fifth-teen minutes but spend time over the next few days/weeks/months thinking about it and you will have a clear answer. Then all you have to do is work backwards to figure out how to be that person.

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