Begin with the End in Mind

By Francisco Sáez • February 28, 2011

“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieving it” ~ Paulo Coelho

Begin with the end in mind is one of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People in the famous Stephen Covey ‘s bestseller. In its most basic form, it refers to always having the image of the end of your life as your frame of reference to evaluate everything else. It’s about starting things with a clear idea of your destination, so that the steps you take are always in the right direction. If you have to be busy, at least you should be doing what’s important to you.

It’s based on the principle that things are created twice. First creation is in your mind and the second is in physical reality. Studies of our Reticular Activating System suggest that when we visualize our goals and are conscious about them, our full energy and personal talents are activated in order to develop them effectively.

Today, this powerful concept is used in many contexts and areas of our lives: leadership, entrepreneurship, project management, sports competition, personal productivity… Coaches teach elite athletes to imagine the successful result of an event before they start competing. If you’re sure about how to complete a project, you’ll be able to plan it efficiently, you’ll be able to better communicate its purpose to the people involved, you’ll be able to accurately measure its success upon completion and, above all, you’ll have the proper motivation to tackle it.

David Allen also supports this concept is his book Getting Things Done. He stands out the importance of vision in his natural way of planning projects: “to access the conscious and unconscious resources available to you, you must have a clear picture in your mind of what success should look”. Moreover, he proposes a 6-level model to evaluate your daily work according to your vision of life:

  1. Life. What’s the purpose of your life?
  2. Vision for the next 3-5 years.
  3. Goals for the next 1-2 years.
  4. Areas of responsibility: your career, job, family, health, etc.
  5. Current projects.
  6. Current actions.

Of course, things will not happen just by thinking about them. If you visualize but don’t act, you’re just dreaming. The vision must be supported by a strategy, a plan to address it effectively.

What’s the vision of your life? It’s said that the best way to get clear about it is to write down a personal mission statement in which you define who you want to be, what gives meaning to your life and how you want to live. Do you feel like trying?

About the author

Francisco Sáez (@franciscojsaez) is the founder and CEO of FacileThings. He is also a web developer specializing in Ruby on Rails who is passionate about personal productivity and GTD as a means to a better life.


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