Last time, we began a new series on the popular bestselling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. First published in 1989, this essential manual is filled with powerful lessons in personal change and has continued to entirely transform lives again and again.
In case you missed our discussion on Habit #1, being proactive, you can catch it right here. It’s definitely one you don’t want to miss.
After all, the concept of being proactive vs. being reactive can make a world of difference when it comes to your mindset, what you attract into your life, and whether or not you’re able to make your dreams happen. If you’ve ever struggled with taking the initiative in your life, this post will show you easy ways to begin to make the change from reactive living to proactive living.
Moving along, today we’re talking about Habit #2 in Covey’s book, and that’s the idea of beginning with the end in mind.
This is probably a concept you’ve heard before. Usually it has to do with visualizing your end-result. What is it you want to achieve? What are your dreams? What are your goals? In fact, recently on the blog, we’ve talked about the importance of regularly meditating on the things you want to accomplish, as it can serve as motivation to keep you moving forward.
While these same ideas certainly apply when it comes to living a more effective life, Covey is actually talking about a different kind of ‘end’ in this chapter. More specifically, he’s talking about the end of your life.
I know, I know – it sounds kind of morbid, doesn’t it? Most people have a deep-rooted fear of death and would prefer not to think about it at all.
However, Covey offers a very powerful exercise in this chapter that can very well change your entire life.
Basically, the idea is to imagine you’re at your own funeral just three years from now, listening to the speeches given by your family, friends, colleagues, and church/community organisation members.
From the book: “Now think deeply. What would you like each of these speakers to say about you and your life? What kind of husband, wife, father, or mother would you like their words to reflect? What kind of son or daughter or cousin? What kind of friend? What kind of working associate? What character would you like them to have seen in you? What contributions, what achievements would you want them to remember? Look carefully at the people around you. What difference would you like to have made in their lives?”
It’s an incredibly powerful exercise, and it accomplishes a very important purpose: to help you gain clarity on what your fundamental values and principles are.
“The most fundamental application of ‘begin with the end in mind’,” writes Covey, “is to begin today with the image, picture, or paradigm of the end of your life as your frame of reference or the criterion by which everything else is examined. By keeping that end clearly in mind, you can make certain that whatever you do on any particular day does not violate the criteria you have defined as supremely important, and that each day of your life contributes in a meaningful way to the vision you have of your life as a whole.”
To give an example: let’s say that one of the themes that repeatedly comes up in the speeches given at your funeral was that you were a people person, always making time for others, someone with a big heart who never failed to offer a listening ear. Obviously, if this comes up again and again, it’s probably important to you. Now you can examine your present-day life: are you making time for others? Does your schedule reflect what your values are? Are you present for your family and friends, or are other things getting in the way?
Many of us might come to realize that the things we spend the most time on every day have absolutely nothing to do with the values that are most dear to us, the principles we would hope to be known for when the time comes for us to leave this world.
The good news is that once you come to this realization, all you have to do is start making small changes here and there. Start spending more time on the things that really matter to you so that you’re always in alignment with your values. When you do, you’ll find yourself happier, healthier, and more fulfilled.
Some of you may discover that your 9-5 job is eating into time that you’d rather spend with loved ones or on long-forgotten passions. Creating a life of financial freedom and location independence isn’t a pipe dream, though. I’ve created a thriving wellness business for myself, and I regularly show others how to do the same. If you’re ready for 2017 to be the year that you stop letting an unfulfilling job steal away your time and energy, click here to learn more about building wealth through wellness.