Begin with the End in Mind

Last summer I read Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I got the book through a book club at work and it sounded very self helpy. Once I started reading it I realized there was nothing quick about it. These habits would take a lifetime to master and by doing them your life would be better.

The second habit is “begin with the end in mind”. The book asks you to imagine your funeral and what you hope that people would say there. What kind of live would you want to life? This can feel a bit overwhelming to most people. How could I plan my whole life now? It’s not about planning your whole life. It’s about thinking of a destination to start heading in. If you want to get married and have kids, you don’t stay home not talking to anyone. Trust me, she won’t just show up on your doorstep one day.

No. You have to start meeting people. Dating. Engagement. Marriage. Honeymoon. Get pregnant. Have a baby. Married with kids is the destination. It takes thousands of literal and figurative steps to get from here to there. The big goals take time. Months and years.

This can be very discouraging. We live in an instant gratification culture. Most people don’t plan beyond breakfast. Then they wonder why they don’t have a better job or better relationships or more money or you fill in the blank. What do you wish would be different? What is your destination?

When you prepare to build a house you draw up blueprints. Even before that you imagine. You begin with the end in mind. You imagine in your head where you want to go then you draw it up.

Where do you want to go? Don’t worry about how you are going to get there. Dream today and be practical tomorrow. You got to be excited or you won’t do the hard work.

An Attitude of Possibility

When I was 20 I worked in a factory job for a year. Hard work in poor conditions in a bad part of town. It was not a fun place to work. One day I asked a coworker about the same age what he wanted to do when he grew up. His response has stayed with me all these years. You see, he lived in a part of town where living past your 18th birthday was an achievement. His goal in life was to not get shot. He didn’t believe anything beyond that was possible.

While you and I likely don’t face that type of situation, sometime we have an attitude that the only possible outcome is to try to survive. Maybe your survival is financial, living paycheck to paycheck. Maybe you are trying to survive your career. Working for a company you don’t like, doing the same unfulfilling thing everyday. Maybe your survival is family. You are young and living with your parents and siblings. Just trying to get by so you can get out on your own. Or you are out on your own living in an apartment or house you can barely afford.

When your life is all about survival there is no time for possibility. In order to break the cycle you have to be intentional about making changes. You won’t make any change if you don’t think it is possible. I know it’s possible because I’ve seen it done. I’ve done it. There are people that lived in the ghetto that made it out. There are people that started saving money and stopped living paycheck to paycheck.

“Complex shapes emerge as the flake moves through differing temperature and humidity zones in the atmosphere, such that individual snowflakes differ in detail from one another, but may be categorized in eight broad classifications and at least 80 individual variants.” Wikipedia Snowflake Article

Snowflakes are said to be unique but all snowflakes are made of water and each one eventually falls to the ground. Each of us are special but we are all made of the same stuff, heading in the same direction. You may think your situation is unique but it’s not. I believe you are uniquely positioned in a common situation. One reason support groups work is because it helps you see that other people struggle with the same stuff. You don’t feel so alone in your struggle anymore. It makes working through your issues easier somehow. We are all unique; but, we are also all heading in the same direction.

Do you believe it’s possible to break whatever cycle you’re in right now? It’s time to have an attitude of possibility. Today is the day to start thinking and dreaming about what life could be.