Habit 2: Begin With The End In Mind

Written by Maren Schmidt on October 30, 2016

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Begin with the end in mind.

A simple yet profound idea.

How many of us would start to build a house without having detailed blueprint? 

But many of us go through life without much of a plan.

Begin with the end in mind is a habit to help us be more effective in our efforts. 

All things are created twice, first as a thought, and then with an executed idea. 

When we understand the first habit, Be Proactive, then we realize that we are in control of the plan for our life, as well as the execution of that plan.

Our lives become our own, not the second creation of someone else’s design.

One of the most powerful planning exercises I have ever done, came from the Habit 2 chapter in The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People. (pages 95-144)

That exercise? Write your eulogy.

This exercise requires that you spend some quiet time in contemplation, but I think you’ll find it worthwhile.

In this exercise, you get to attend your own funeral that is three years from today.

You walk into the funeral home with beautiful flowers and music. Friends and family are all there, coming together to celebrate your life.

You’re handed a program and see that four people are going to speak at your service.

  • First is a member of your immediate and extended family.
  • Second is a close friend.
  • The third person is a business associate.
  • The fourth is from a service organization, or your church, where you’ve served as a volunteer. 

What would you like each of these four people to say about you and your life?

What do you want them to say about their relationships with you as a father, mother, husband, wife, son, daughter, cousin, friend, and business associate?

As you look at the faces of everyone in attendance what strengths do you want them to remember about you?

What contribution do you want these people to remember about you?

As you look at every person, what difference did you make in their lives?

Block off some time and think about how you want the ending to your life to be.

Jot down your thoughts, as your thoughts are your first creation. Your words and actions are your second creation.

From an ancient Chinese proverb:

Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words. 

Be careful of your words, for your words become your actions.

Be careful of your actions, for your actions become your habits. 

Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character. 

Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny.  

Be proactive. Begin with the end in mind.

Develop habits to help you become, and help others become, highly effective people.

Download Your Eulogy Exercise Guide.

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Tags: 7 habits of highly effective people