Live from the end: How to achieve your goals!

Ends-CompressedWayne Dyer said in his book, Wished Fulfilled, to “live from the end.” Dr. Stephen R. Covey said in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to “Begin with the end in mind.” Countless other authors, thought leaders, and visionaries have all alluded to this idea of starting from the end and working backwards. They suggest that without thinking from the end, we end up walking without direction, purpose, and aim. It’s hard to know where we’re going if we don’t have a clear destination. It’s like driving cross country and stopping wherever someone drags us to. We end up living life as a passenger, reacting to our life’s situations instead of becoming conscious of who we are and where we’re going.

Now there’s nothing wrong with living in the moment and having those times when you let life take you in a new direction, but as Arianna Huffington said on a recent episode of Super Soul Sunday,

“Life is a dance between making it happen and letting it happen.”

Life is a balancing act that lasts your entire lifetime. Stephen Covey paints this great picture in his book that asks you to imagine you’re taking a seat at your own funeral. You see that there are a number of speakers expected to give a eulogy. It could be your siblings, your friends, colleagues, extended family, children. Pick a few of them for the sake of this demonstration. Each of the people who speak can offer a perspective on you that the other may not have experienced. Your children may see you in a different light than your coworkers.

What would you want them to say? What kind of husband, wife, father, mother, friend, coworker, brother, sister would you want their words to reflect? Think about that and work backwards. In his book, Stephen Covey says

“‘Begin with the end in mind’ is to begin today with the image, picture or paradigm of the end of your life as your frame of reference or the criterion by which everything else is examined. Each part of your life – today’s behavior, tomorrow’s behavior, next week’s behavior, next month’s behavior – can be examined in the context of the whole, of what really matters to you the most.” (p. 104-105)

These words speak to the importance of understanding your destination. However, your destination isn’t just death. Your destination is your everyday goals. What do you want to happen today? How do you want to parent your child today? What message do you want to send your children? What kind of friend will you be today? It’s about taking the future destination and making it a present reality. I always say that, in life, you have to be goal-oriented but present focused.

The same way a building is constructed after first nailing down the architecture, foundation, blueprint, square footage, etc., your goals are constructed the same way. You create your plan before ever hammering the first nail. Then once you know exactly where you’re going you begin breaking ground. If you neglect to put in the time to figure out the plan and sow the seed, you may never reap the benefits. It may even cost you more in reconstruction efforts because you hadn’t invested in the initial planning.

With this said, you have to be mindful of what your goals are. Clarify what you want. One of the hardest questions in life is simply asking yourself, “What do I want?” We are constantly asking ourselves that question, whether it be tonight’s dinner selection or whether it’s deciding if my current relationship is healthy. It could be that you don’t know the answers to the bigger questions yet, but work from the smaller ones. Ask yourself what you want out of your relationships, jobs, circumstances today. Then ask yourself, is what I’m doing today reflecting what I want in the end?

Sometimes the way we react to our child, friend, coworker isn’t reflecting the type of person we want to be. It’s ok to make mistakes. We’re never going to reach a perfect state of non-reactivity and communication. We have to give ourselves permission to take a step back before responding. We show the people around us that we’re not taking what just happened lightly and we’re going to have to reflect on what happened. That time can put situations into perspective and help us move forward with action that better reflects what we truly desire.

So I’m asking you to begin thinking about what you want. Not just want you want at the end of your life, but what do you want out of today? What do you want out of your relationships? What kind of person do you want to show up as? Live from that space and begin to recognize the type of person that would be needed to make your goals come to fruition.

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Rubin Khoddam, Clinical Psychology PhD student at University of Southern California, founder of Psych Connection.

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Categories: Blogs by Rubin, Books

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4 replies


  1. What Maya Angelou Taught Us About Life « Psych Connection
  2. Why Just Having Goals Isn’t Enough | Psych Connection
  3. Learning to Tolerate Life’s Uncertainty | Psych Connection
  4. Why Judging Others is Bad for You | Psych Connection

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