Begin with the end in mind: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People explained

Continuing our series on Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, this post focuses on the second of Covey’s habits: Start with the end in mind.

If you haven’t read the first post, ‘Be Proactive’, the aim of this blog series is to provide a reminder of these ever-valuable habits, with a personal leadership twist, giving you insight into each habit and how you can use it to develop your personal leadership.

Collect all seven crib sheets for a complete guide to developing effective personal leadership through the lense of Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. We’re on habit two now, so keep an eye out for the rest!

What is Habit Two?

Begin with the end in mind

Let’s define it

This habit is all about knowing your purpose and what you’re trying to achieve.

What does it mean?

Beginning with the end in mind is all about asking yourself questions to determine your objectives and the reasons behind wanting to achieve them:

-What is the purpose of what I’m trying to achieve?
-What outcomes do I want?
-Why are these outcomes important/valuable?
-Why am I about to do what I’m about to do?

Answering these questions is the absolute foundation of ‘beginning with the end in mind’. It’s also about fast-forwarding into the future and considering what it looks like there for you. People are typically motivated by the future, not the past and so knowing what you want your future to be can be a strong source of motivation.

You may have seen the ROAD acronym that we shared with you earlier this month (Responsibility, Outcomes, Action, Discipline). ROAD most definitely supports the starting with the end in mind habit and focusing on the Discipline element for now, it’s important that the daily disciplines you set are both realistic and achievable. Self-discipline is challenging already (we all know how difficult eating one square of chocolate rather than the whole bar is!) and creating unrealistic disciplines can be counter-productive. Think about what small resolutions you can make, rather than huge, cumbersome, overwhelming ones that you are unlikely to remain disciplined with.

Why is it important?

It may sound obvious, but if you don’t have an end goal in mind, how on earth are you going to get there?! How can you possibly know whether you’ve succeeded, failed or reached somewhere in between, if you don’t know what you’re aiming for? Knowing your end goal can give you the continued motivation you need to achieve success.

Develop this habit: Practical tools

Thinking about who you admire as a person is a good place to start. Describe that person and then measure yourself against them. Try to identify the differences between yourself and that person and pinpoint the behaviours that you really want to develop. Go and search for the training and development needed to get you there. Is it a coach you need? A training course? Consider what support mechanisms you need to get you closer to that person you want to be.

Similarly you could use a profiling tool to complete, what we call, an aspirational profile – a profile that provides a projected profile of the individual you aspire to be. Complete a current profile alongside this – one of where you are now – and start identifying the gaps between the two. Once you have clarity around where you are now and where you want to be, you can start mapping out your ROAD journey and working to close the gaps between the two.

Enjoyed this? Look out for the next in our ‘seven habits’ series, which focuses on Covey’s third habit of Highly Effective People, ‘Put first things first’.