Beginning With the End in Mind

by Ouida on May 1, 2010


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Adam Baker’s Man versus Debt is one of the blogs that I follow.  This post was inspired in some ways by Adam’s April 27th post When to Quit Traveling. Adam at the age of 24 or so, didn’t like the way his life was going accumulating things and personal debt so he and his family decided to sell their possessions and travel for a year.  They decided to cut their trip short by a couple of months and return home.  Adam discusses the implications of that decision on their present and future realities on his blog.

I am middle-aged.  I don’t say that like it is a medical diagnosis with all the emotional impact that medical diagnoses can have.  I say that at a statement of fact.  I am middle-aged.  I have also had a long and rewarding professional career and I have gotten to a point where I can see beyond my career to other opportunities.  Honestly, going to school for years and training to become something, in my case a doctor, can make you feel that you always have to be that thing you trained to become or practice that thing you trained to do the same way you have always done, but you don’t.  You always have the right to change your mind no matter how crazy every one around you may think that you are.

I have taken enough personal development classes to know that bringing about an even slightly different reality than the one I currently enjoy will require a great deal more than wishing.  It will require beginning with the end in mind.  The first time I heard the catchy phrase “you plan your life first by beginning with the end in mind”. I thought what kind of BS is this?!  Personal development programs always use the example of travel.  We plan trips toward a specific destination and, although there may be many ways to reach that destination, we always settle on a specific route.  The problem is that travel is easy and life can be a bit more challenging.

In the additional years of living since I first heard that phrase I now understand what that phrase truly means.  I will never reach a destination without first setting that destination as specifically as I know how. I then have to reject the things that prevent me from reaching that destination.  Wow, that sounds kind of harsh but ultimately that is really true.  If I know that in 10 years I want to be a person who owns 10 investment properties and that those properties will require a down payment of $20,000 each, I will have to engage in behaviors today that enable me to develop the requisite funds.  That will certainly mean saving money, it might mean networking to find like-minded business partners, it will also mean controlling day-to-day expenses as well as large purchases to make sure that I have the funds on hand that I need to buy the investment properties.

The toughest thing about beginning with the end in mind is deciding what that end is, deciding what I want my life to look like in all areas.  If I make one decision will that close off other opportunities?  Probably, but life teaches that a decision will also create opportunities.  There is a whole multi-million dollar  industry called personal development and life visioning to help people decide what they want illustrating that this is the toughest part of the life change process.  What if I make a decision and fail in the attempt?  I have to ask myself what is the worst that could possibly happen and can I survive that?  Yep, fear of lost opportunities and fear of failure are probably the two reasons people find it hard to decide what they truly want and therefore find it hard to make change.  I know that is surely the case for me.

Looking back, I found it relatively easy to be where I am today.  I certainly worked and worked hard and there were times that I felt quite alone. Looking forward feels a bit different because there is a certain level of complacency.  I really don’t have to do anything different and, except for the stirring in my heart, I would make no change at all.  Fortunately I am into listening to my heart these days.

First step?  Begin with the end in mind.  Quite fortunately in life we can have several beginnings.  Thank God for yellow note pads!

Are you beginning with the end in mind?

Please comment.

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