Start with the end in mind

Starting and continuing with the end in mind protects you from getting distracted on your journey to reaching your goals. 

Your “why” is a compass that guides your actions and keeps you from wasting time, effort, and money. 

Why am I spending the time writing this right now? There are two main reasons, the first is a selfish reason, it helps me clarify my thinking. The second reason is I have the hope that it will help someone learn and get a little bit better and hopefully make decisions that will avoid possible future regret. 

This understanding of why I’m writing this, helps me avoid worrying about the less important details like, whether or not this post optimized for SEO, or feeling like I need to continually edit and refine the writing before I publish it. 

What is starting with the end in mind and where does it come from?

I first heard this principal of starting with the end in mind in Stephen Covey’s book: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. If you haven’t read it I’d highly recommend it. Many of the things he writes about are universally true and if applied, will improve your life. It’s easily the most accurate and helpful “self-help” book I’ve ever read. 

In his book, Stephen Covey talks about how when anything is made, there is first a mental creation followed by a physical creation. When you begin with the end in mind, you are able to start the mental creation right from the get go and allow it to guide you through the process of the execution of the physical creation. 

It’s hard to apply this idea of starting with the end in mind, especially when you’ve already started said thing and are in the middle of it now. But that doesn’t mean you can’t apply it to future things you start.

Maybe you don’t workout and want to start. How you want to end greatly affects the next actions you take. I’d argue that your goal should be to improve your health. To get stronger, feel better, and enable yourself to have a high quality of life for decades and decades into the future. With that perspective you aren’t going to do stupid workouts that you see on youtube or instagram that will “blast” your legs and keep you from walking for days. Instead, you’ll focus on being consistent over months and years to get lasting results. 

When your goal is too short term, you risk cutting yourself short off from the majority of the benefits had you continued.

How many people do you know that have the goal of losing 15 pounds every year? The stress on your body of gaining and losing 15 pounds each year is terribly hard on your body and your relationship with food and exercise. Don’t subject yourself to that.

Keeping yourself on track

When you start with the end in mind, you have a constant barometer you can measure your actions against to keep you headed in the direction that you meant to go in the first place. Without this gauge, even if you’re just 1 degree off of where you initially intended to go, you’ll end up miles and miles from your goal.

Write down your end goal. Keep it somewhere you can see it so it will be in the front of your mind.

With the goal written down, you’ll avoid asking yourself: Why do you do what you do? What are you trying to achieve with your actions? Take some time now to consider these. It’s a process that will take time and consistency. 

As you work toward your goal, you will find that your end goal may change, that’s fine. Just make sure you are honest with yourself about how and why it has changed and adjust accordingly.

It’s so easy to become sidetracked. Keep your goals top of mind to prevent yourself from getting distracted. Keep taking action that is informed by your why and you’ll be well on your way.

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