Steven Covey 7 Habits: The Art To Begin With The End In Mind

The process to begin with an end in mind is to begin a task, an objective, a project, or a day with a clear set of achieving a targeted goal or set of goals. It means to prepare your mind and yourself to achieve the desired outcome.

In his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Steven Covey, the second habit is primarily focused on the topic “Begin with the end in mind”.

To begin with, the end in mind is to have a plan, to set a goal and be willing or motivated enough to carry out a plan to achieve the desired goal in the desired time.

For example, writing an article with clear instructions and intentions of finishing the article before the due date. For kids, a good example is that of a video game that they start, hoping to finish as soon as possible.

A good student would be motivated enough to set his daily targets for the academic syllabus and strictly follow his regulations.

The purpose to begin with the end in mind focuses on how to start writing our own story, it contemplates our deepest desires and allows us to live by our own principals.

To live by your own principals means to take control of your life, to take charge of yourself and your decisions, to have a successful life, and to be satisfied with your own self.

Moreover, to begin with, an end in mind means to have power over emotions and actions to guide yourself to the desired destination, to have the will power of reaching that destination before even taking the first step. Hypothetically speaking once you are convinced, once you begin your journey with an end in mind, with a goal in mind, you are already halfway there.

To know where you have to be, to know where you are going, makes your destination even more achievable and much easier. A goal becomes more desirable to achieve, a task becomes more attainable, and the journey becomes simpler to walk on.

Sometimes, when a person does not have any end goal or targeted outcome, they tend to procrastinate things. The process of doing something gets longer and lengthier as they lack that particular “end” in their mind.

It is imperative for any person to know the purpose of their task. It is believed that only those who have the right end in mind will have the best outcomes from performing a task. Many famous book writers usually write the “end” of their books first and then write the story based on the end.

This is basically known as “beginning with the end in mind”. It is no surprise that because they have the end in their mind, they can easily and flexibly write the story thereafter. It is the end that matters. It is always the end that impacts our thoughts and experiences in books, in movies, and even in our real lives. And those great movies that move us emotionally or spiritually, all have beautiful ends to them. They leave a mark on our minds forever.

What does “Begin with the end in mind” mean?

What does ‘Begin with the end in mind’ means? In simpler terms, it can be a process, it can be a thought, or it can be a goal. It can be a process of applying yourself completely and your commitment to achieving the desired outcome.

It can be a thought, a motivation to put in a few more shifts to satisfy the craving of completion of your work, or it can be a goal. The urge to witness the end of the road to satisfy and reward yourself for the work you have done. It is obvious that if you do not have an end goal, you will not know whether what you are doing is correct or will it even benefit you or the time you have spent doing it is worth spending or not.

How will you know whether you have been successful in it? How will you know if you have reached somewhere if you simply do not have an aim or an end to your task?

Having an end goal gives you a purpose, a motive, a determination to seek the end, to push yourself more and more for a better outcome and ultimately a better, organized future. To be a better person tomorrow, to have a better future, you push yourself every day for the “end” goal.

Why is it hard to start with the end in mind?

Why it that many of us struggle to is set our destination? For some people it is hard to start with an end in mind, they may often ask themselves questions like ‘Why are these outcomes important/ valuable?’, ‘What is the purpose of what I am trying to achieve?’. Only they may be able to answer themselves for these questions.

However, answering these questions is the basic foundation of ‘beginning with the end in mind’.

Some people might not be able to answer these questions because they might just not be motivated enough, not interested in the schedule of the outcome or just prefer to go with the flow and see where it takes them with time.

To start with an end in mind could be inconvenient for some as they prefer to just ‘go with the flow’.

If you are the kind of person who lets time and other factors decide what you deserve then no matter what happens along the way, you will never get to a point that is truly desirable to you and eventually end up nowhere.

The journey from the start to that point becomes tiring, exhausting, and demanding at most. It could be challenging to start without an end in mind for people who are unsure about their desired destination, for people who are not willing to but are forced to complete a task.

Moreover, it is suggested that if you really want to begin with an end in mind then the first thing is to be disciplined.

Being discipline is a challenging task but not impossible.

In his book “The Road Less Traveled” Scott Peck explains how a person can achieve nothing if he is not disciplined. It is not necessary to have cumbersome or overwhelming goals and targets in the beginning, which you will be unlikely to be disciplined about rather starting with small goals that can be less overwhelming and easily achievable.

Many experts say that discipline is a key to success.

It is evident with the success of many famous personalities that all their lives they have been nothing but disciplined. Disciplined in their actions, in their daily tasks, in their routines and mostly everything in their lives, no matter what the situation.

Being disciplined with your task and setting an end goal is the perfect combination to achieve your goals and become successful in life.

Many people believe that maintaining or being disciplined is difficult.

They just fail at being disciplined.

However, if you think this way then you are wrong. Discipline is every other thing you do on an everyday basis.

From brushing your teeth every morning to going to work every day at the same time or maybe going to the gym every day of the week.

These little habits are also called the “disciplines” of your life. You are performing them with discipline, with an end goal in your mind.

Brushing your teeth every day so that your teeth do not catch a cavity. Going to the office on time so your supervisor does not cut your salary for arriving late and going to the gym every day of the week to maintain that body or lose some pounds. All these habits are disciplines and these disciplines have an end that you achieve every week, month or on yearly basis. Therefore, it is possible to be disciplined about the most important tasks in your lives in order to achieve desired outcomes.

The importance to begin with an end in mind

It may sound obvious, but if you do not have a desired destination or an end goal to get to, you are not going to get anywhere. How can you know if you have succeeded or failed after all the effort you have put into a task or a job, if you never had an end in your mind? You have to begin your task, your journey, or your day with an end in mind to learn the success or failures that come along with it.

To complete the objective of the journey you must look behind and see how far you have come. Look at all the efforts and the possible lessons, mistakes to correct, may be few surprises from yourself to take notes of, if you reach the end. You can measure whether your decision of working towards the end goal is working positively or not.

This means you can calculate if what you are doing is taking you towards your desired end in mind or is it simply wasting your time. To move onto another day or another task in your life you have to look behind on the previous challenges and learn prior to the ending. Knowing your end goal can give you the continued motivation you need to achieve success.

In organizations, this culture is very common. Employees are encouraged to finish their tasks within the time limit given to them. Each task is given in terms of achieving a goal which ultimately turns into a reward for the employee if he/she is successful in completing it.

Many employees in an organization often ignore the end goal and only focus on completing a task. It is their lack of interest and attention towards the ultimate goal or end of the task. They may be very efficient or fast-paced at doing their task, but the efforts put into the task will only be effective when the end is considered or kept in mind.

This not only demotivates them, but they eventually lose any interest in that particular task. If such a situation is consistent with an employee, it could become a reason for them to get into a state of depression and their productivity would simply fall in the long term.

They may also stay in one position in the company for very long with fewer chances of promotion or growth. An aim or motive is important for people to have active mindedness and keep themselves busy, looking forward to completing one goal and then another. It also helps the employees become more creative and inventive in their task performance. The goal attainment and achievement also boost the confidence and morale of the person on a personal level and professional level.

As Covey puts it, the art of beginning with the end in mind is actually ‘everything being created twice’. When you begin with the end in mind, it is actually an art of envisioning what is in your mind, something you are unable to see physically at present, then as time passes and you get the result of what you had in mind and see it turning into a reality, a physical possible end, it gives you a sense of success and happiness inside.

How to develop the habit of starting something with it’s known ending?

Take into consideration who you are as a person and who you aspire to be, set goals to become the best version of yourself or who you want to be known as. Begin with an end in mind and follow your regulations to proceed with your desires. Identify the difference between yourself and the person you want to be at the end of the day. In order to do so, you must precisely note the behavior and try to erase the differences and strictly proceed to the end of your destination. It is one way to develop a habit, a habit that can your ability to achieve goals. Develop an automated behavior that supports your efforts to succeed.

Furthermore, you must have a firm focus on the time and energy you would be investing in yourself to achieve the successes that are more important but if you don’t ponder on it, you may forget what your real aim was and will be left astray. However, as mentioned above, knowing your end goal will keep you motivated to accomplish all the success you had ever dreamt of and so to develop this habit, you need to follow a few simple steps:

  1. Thinking about a person you admire is the first step to develop this habit. Try figuring out the difference between you and that person and then pinpoint the specific behaviors you want to adopt. After that, figure out what kind of help you need, to push yourself forward. For example, you might want a coach or a trainer to guide you. This comes in handy these days. There are numerous programs and workshops happening around you or in your organization you work for where you can get a lot of help on the topic.

 

  1. The key to beginning with an end in mind can be done by keeping your eyes on the prize, the final outcome. You can eliminate those behaviors that stop you from reaching the end and focus on those that motivate you. Imagine you have to lose weight, you can look at a picture of yourself when you were smart and thin, keep looking at it. That is the beginning of your end. The end goal is to lose weight and become the same size as in the picture. Work towards it with complete dedication.

 

  1. You could use an Aspirational Profile. This tool helps in providing a forecasted profile of an individual you aspire to be. It uses your current situation and identifies the gaps between you and the person you are trying to be for the betterment of your behavior in the aspect. It creates an obvious track for you to apprehend and understand where you are now and where you want to be. With the help of Aspirational Profile, it will be quite easy for you to map your goals and future.

 

  1. Start thinking ahead, set a vision for the next 3-4 years. What will you be doing? (How will you handle any unexpected scenarios or how you will complete a given task?) What changes you felt from your previous self? But planning for the future, you must have a strong will as only visualizing it will not take you closer to your goal, you need to work hard to make that imagination into a reality.

 

  1. Last but not least, you must keep a record of the tasks you need to perform to achieve the end goal. Completing a task one after the other, you will finally realize that you have achieved your end goal and you are successful in doing so. You will experience the feelings of pride, joy, and satisfaction within yourself.
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