Begin with the End in Mind, seven habits, Stephen R Covey", the seven habits of highly effective people
And today’s question is: What am I doing (Am I doing anything??) to establish Begin with the End in Mind as a habit of effectiveness in my life?
Seems a simple question. If I was to guess, when it comes to work-related strategies and tasks, most readers would have a list of answers available. However, I would also surmise that the Beginning with the End in Mind in respect of work is more about processes and protocols that dictate what you do, rather than actually applying that particular habit at a conscious level.
All the same, work examples proliferate, so I’ll ask you to look, instead, at your personal lives, and perhaps at the most basic of levels. What are you doing at home to which you apply End in Mind thinking?
Here’s an odd one. I’ll be blunt and say that I hate cleaning my teeth. Don’t know why, some childhood trauma, I suppose. Maybe one day I was cleaning my teeth and Dad walked into the room naked. Whatever, I hate standing still long enough to brush, and this was more obvious before I invested in an electric toothbrush, and these days it is a habit, as it should be.
This morning, though, I had a blinding flash of the obvious. What is the End in Mind with tooth-brushing? The most obvious answer would be avoidance of bad breath and cleany-whitey teeth, but that in either case that is a day-long, fleeting objective.
No, this morning I realised that the End in Mind was a 6-month process. It wasn’t about the sensibilities of my workmates or going out on the pull with pearly white pearly whites. It was about going to the dentist and coming away without the impending terror of a needle and a drill.
That was my new end in Mind. I love cleaning my teeth, regardless of Dad’s indiscretion.
That may be a silly example, but it does illustrate how little we think about Ends in the moment. We think about today’s tasks, and we think most of all about what is smack bang in front of us in the moment. Which is one of the reasons a lot of professionals feel stress at work – the ‘in your face’ prevents us doing the ‘important’. We are constantly interrupted by minutiae, but minutiae that someone demands we do, whether now or to some arguably random and unnecessary deadline invented to make life easier for an administrator rather than an operator.
But like tooth-brushing, if we stop for a moment and really think about the End rather than the interim objective, perhaps we can see more clearly what is important, what brings the most return on our time, or even just what the ultimate benefit could be. And at the same time see what really should be left until it absolutely has to be done, and with the appropriate non-priority.
Think about all those things you hate doing, which you put off easily or completely avoid.
What IS the ultimate, perhaps more important objective?
If discovering that changes your perspective enough to maximise your effectiveness, do it.
It’ll save needing professional help later. I promise.
And the dentist ain’t buying a new BMW on MY dollar.