With the End in Mind

5 Apr 2022

I belong to a book club; in fact, I belong to two book clubs. In one club we read a variety of novels and have only once ventured into the world of non-fiction. The other book club is very different; it is a business book club. We read books on marketing, strategy, time management, decision-making and personal development.

One of the best books we have read – and we all agreed on this – is The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey. This book was first published in 1989, but is as relevant now as it was then. It would have been relevant had it been published in 1889, and I believe it will still be relevant in 2089.

Note the word “Effective.” Covey does not write about the habits of “successful” people: success, after all, depends on how you measure it, but effective people. His subtitle is “Restoring the Character Ethic.”

You may be wondering what the seven habits are, so here’s a quick overview:

1.     Be proactive

2.     Begin with the end in mind

3.     Put first things first

4.     Think win/win

5.     Seek first to understand, then to be understood

6.     Synergise (work effectively with others)

7.     Sharpen the saw (keep learning and refreshing that learning)

I wrote a bit about no. 3 in my blog published 9th February – New on the To Do, and today I’m writing about no. 2: begin with the end in mind.

We know all about goals; business goals of making so many sales or so much profit; personal goals about getting fit or saving for that special thing; or even just getting through today. We rarely think about the really long-term goals. I’m talking about who we want to be when we die.

End of life (as it’s euphemistically called in the caring professions) has been on my mind. My mother-in-law died on Friday, which was both a sadness and a relief. Our grief is complicated because of the kind of woman she was.

I have been thinking about the kind of person I want to be at the end of my life. I will be honest and say my greatest fear is dementia; so often it steals the person we are and want to be and leaves something unpleasant in its place. But, barring that theft of self, who do I want to be?

5th January this year, my blog was titled, “A New Year, a New Point of You.” In this I asked you to go through a list of good qualities you believe you can claim for yourself. I encourage you to revisit that list and refresh your memory.

We know the only certain thing in life is death, and we have no assurance of when that day will be. What do we want people to say of us after we have gone?

Let’s make that the end we have in mind. We cannot begin yesterday, so let’s start today.


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