Thursday, May 22, 2008

Start With the End in Mind

I hope this post finds you all making some strides towards reducing multitasking in your lives! And I also hope you feel rewarded with the increased focus you can provide to the activities you choose. I imagine you find some satisfaction and enrichment knowing that you are more fully engaged in some meaningful activities.

Today I'm going to mention a topic that I have been addressing with some new clients over the past month. Sometimes people know they want a change in their lives - they feel dissatisfied, or unbalanced, or overcommitted. Or they simply aren't taking care of themselves in the way they need to - little to no exercise, eating few fruits and vegetables, and packing on the pounds.

Have you ever been in a situation in which you knew you wanted change, but you didn't know how to start? Or even what specific change you are working for?

Welcome to the club! Most everyone experiences that feeling at one time or another. And I view that level of discomfort as a GOOD thing, because it generally signifies that we are ready for/needing a change. The discomfort can provide us motivation and energy to create a more beneficial environment.

But, where do you start? You might think I'd say something pithy, such as, "Well, start at the beginning!"

However, the real path to success actually involves starting at the END. It may not make lots of sense to think about the end when you haven't even begun efforts to change.

I would argue, though, that having a clear vision in your mind of where you want to end up will make the road to that vision much easier and more defined. For example, suppose you have been invited to attend an event for which you need to buy a new outfit. What might be the first question that goes through your head as you try to figure out which store to try first? Perhaps something along the lines of, "How formal is this event?"

Once you know the level of formality of the event, you can then begin to develop an idea in your head of the type of outfit you might want to purchase. This would then lead you to an appropriate store at which you can make your selection.

But if you didn't have the end in mind - i.e., how should I dress for this event? - you could end up arriving at the event in completely inappropriate attire. You might show up at a picnic in a business suit and heels because you failed to have an idea in your mind FIRST about what you want/need to look like.

Knowing the how you are expected to dress gives you structure in the quest for the perfect outfit - you can automatically reject items that don't match the event, and you can zero in on ones that do. Having the end in mind saves you time - you don't have to go to stores carrying clothing that is not right for your needs.

It's the same with everything in life....if you know what you ultimately want your life to look like when you have implemented changes, you will not waste time doing things that don't fit your vision. If you know you eventually want your schedule to include time for exercise four days a week and to volunteer at a local homeless shelter one time a month, protect your schedule to allow for this.

Start by mapping out what an ideal week would look like for you. Imagine in your mind that you have time to do everything that you need to do. What would your week look like? Be realistic, of course! We all need appropriate amount of sleep!

You may find that in order for you to accomplish the level of self care that is currently missing in your life, you have to give something up. Viewing an ideal week will help you realize what you can fit, versus what would infringe on your ability to lead a balanced life.

Take some time today to ponder how your ideal week would look - and write it down! Then, email it to me - I'd love to see it!

Make it a great day!


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