Management guru, Stephen Covey identifies seven habits that can become a way of life and lead to success. Most of us are acquainted with Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. “Begin with the end in mind” is Habit #2, following #1, “Be proactive”.
On December 1, when we approach the last month of the year, and an incredibly busy season for many reasons, it is beneficial to consider how to begin with the end in mind in a proactive manner – and with intention. Typically, I feel excited at the beginning of a new month. December can be trick though. December marks the end of the year and carries more weight and finality. This is the beginning of the end of the year.
The end of a month, a year, a semester, a project, a season, a series of celebrations. What do I want this time to look like, in the end? What do I want to do well, say “yes” to, make happen, support and promote? With each of these things and events, do I have the time and resources to make it happen well? Will I compromise something valuable along the way? Will I have focused on what truly matters when I say “yes”?
If we begin December with some of these questions, what does it mean to begin with the end in mind?
For me, this process requires that I identify things to say “no” to, even though I don’t want to. “No” becomes essential in order to honor my “yes” and achieve the outcomes I have already established.
At the beginning of the year, our family completed a values exercise, where we all worked through our individual values, shared them, and then identified what value best represents us as a family. In this process, we committed to set aside time to be togetherthe. Our two oldest children planned to move to different cities to begin their careers, and we wanted to make sure we have time together to keep our relationships strong. Identifying our values gave each of us clarity and helped us create meaningful commitments and priorities. We planned to end our year with a family vacation, to reconnect and renew in order to feel satisfied and ready to turn in to a new year. Then we knew that we would have to manage our time to make this plan work well. Now we must take care to attend to what really matters. There are moments when the plan forces each of us to choose between great choices. Commitments can be hard. But commitments lead to success, and we defined our values to include this time together and away from the “hustle-bustle” of life.
Today I am setting aside time to consider how to begin with the end in mind. This requires me to adjust some of my expectations while I try hard to meet high expectations. There are many clear goals and deadlines. How will I navigate them well?
What are your processes for managing December and year end in a way that gives you a sense of satisfaction and success?