Begin With The End In Mind

Everything that was ever built was first created in someone’s mind. This is the view of Dr. Stephen Covey, the author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective. The same principle applies when creating a life plan.

A life plan can be based on the end of life. But since none of us, regardless of age or state of life, can guarantee or specify how long we will live we need to be more realistic. You may be young and hope to live for another 50 years or more. But setting such a long planning horizon brings elements that make your plan impractical.

For the purpose of life planning we encourage you to consider a reasonable future point in time as the target date for achieving your purpose, objectives, and goals. This can be the end of a stage in life such as the end of schooling, before getting married, before changing career or it could be a specific time horizon such as two, three or five years from now. Whatever it is, it should be a reasonable point in the future.

Let us suppose that you know that your life will end at a specific future point and that will be the end of your life plan. Suppose that your plan end date is five years from now. What will that end look like? How do you paint that portrait?

In his book, The E-Myth Revisited, author and speaker Michael Gerber   gives a powerful story to illustrate this point in time. He writes:

“I’d like you to imagine that you are about to attend the most important occasion of your life. It will be held in a room sufficiently large to seat all of your friends, your family, your business associates–anyone and everyone to whom you are important and who is important to you.

Can you see it?

The walls are draped with deep golden tapestries. The lighting is subdued, soft, casting a warm glow on the faces of your expectant guests. The chairs are handsomely upholstered in golden fabric that matches the tapestries. The golden carpeting is deeply piled.

At the end of the room is a dais, and on the dais a large, beautifully decorated table with candles burning at either end.

On the table, in the center, is the object of everyone’s attention. A large ornate box. And in the box is … you! Stiff as the proverbial board.

Do you see yourself lying in the box, not a dry eye in the room? Now listen.”

Think as if you are planning “your big party, a clebration of your life.” You are in control of all the planning. You need to envision who you wish to invite and who will give tribute to your life well lived. Your selection will include the people who are important to you.

Do not select these people at random. Think carefully about why you are selecting these people. These are people in whose life you have made significant investments and/or who have impacted your life greatly. Now, what do you wish these people would say? Which of your character qualities do you wish they would remember? What achievements do you hope they will recall?

   Exercise

Considering Michael Gerber’s story, think of a specific future point in time.  Assume that your life will come to an end at that future point in time. Find a good time and place when you can reflect on the following very important questions:

  • What is the target point in time? Why did you choose this end point?
  • Whoare the individuals or representatives that you wish to call on to give tribute to the life you have lived?
  • Whywould you choose these individuals or representatives of certain groups?
  • Whatdo you wish each one would say about your character and your life achievements?

 Do not just think of your answers; write them down clearly as if you are going to share them with a trusted friend or a life coach.

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