Begin with the End in Mind
In the last article applying Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to your health, we looked at how to apply Habit 1 – Being Proactive. Proactive people consistently look to add to their health as opposed to waiting for a crisis to look after themselves. As a result, they are not only healthier, more vital and have more energy, they typically face fewer costly health crises as well.
This week we continue our journey and will delve into Habit 2 – Beginning with the End in Mind. Habit 2 is about knowing where you are ultimately going in the short and long term, taking a BIG PICTURE view of your health, and asking yourself what is REALLY important when it comes to your health.
Being clear on what end you have in mind is important for several reasons. First, it will prevent you from going down avenues that either don’t help or actually hurt your big picture goals. Second, it will provide you with motivation and inspiration when challenged. Finally, it will serve as your guide when faced with choices about what to do or not to do.
Let’s say you want to lose some weight. Nothing wrong with that goal if it is important to you. A short-sighted approach would ask, ‘how much weight?’ If we begin with the end in mind, several other questions need to be asked.
“What is the purpose of losing the weight? Why do I want to lose it? What value will losing the weight provide me? Opportunities as a result? What other benefits will I get? How will the weight loss impact those I care about? Is this consistent with the Ultimate vision for my life?”
Do you see the difference? The first approach MAY produce a transient short term change that may or may not have an overall benefit to your health. The second approach is much more likely to succeed in both the short and long term and actually get you what you really want.
If we took the short sighted approach to losing weight, there are many ways we could go about it. For example, starting to use heroin could be an effective strategy for achieving your goal.
‘Ridiculous!’ you say? Absolutely, yet this is why it is important to begin with the end in mind. Along the same lines as heroin – but less ridiculous – doing a fad, crash diet, working out incessantly, taking a diet drug or herb or looking for any one of the many quick fixes out there can help you with the short-sighted objective without moving you towards what you really want.
If you begin with the end in mind you know WHY you want to lose weight. Perhaps it is to have the energy and vitality to achieve other goals. Maybe you want to look more attractive. Live longer and healthier so that you can play with your grandchildren and watch them grow up. Maybe you just want to be healthy enough to dance with your spouse.
You see, if you know WHY you want to lose weight, now it becomes much clearer HOW you will go about doing it. In any of the examples in the above paragraph, taking heroin (or following any of those options) is inconsistent with what you really want and are therefore really NOT options. Different focus, different destiny.
I invite you to all spend some time to look at your goals from the perspective of Beginning with The End in Mind and I will leave you with some homework before next week. Again, feel free to apply this to ALL areas of your life – not only your health.
While this may sound a bit morbid, the first part of your homework is to write your own eulogy. Imagine you are sitting at the back of the room at your own funeral. Write the script for what you would want your eulogy to say about you and your life. What will you be remembered for? What did you value? What did you contribute? Who did you inspire and how? Spend some time on this exercise.
Once your eulogy is complete, I would like you to write a personal mission statement in regards to your health. A short paragraph with 2 or 3 sentences is plenty. When it comes to your health, what are you about, what are you committed to and what are you creating. Make sure your mission is consistent with the life vision you created with your eulogy.
Please, do this homework and next week we will be ready to Put First Things First!