If you want to have focus you must have a plan. One of the most focusing experiences in my life was attending a weekend seminar on the The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey. Covey's Habit 2 is called "Begin with the End in Mind - Principles of Personal Leadership". As Covey sees it, to begin with the end in mind is to begin with the image of the end of your life as the frame of reference by which everything else is measured. The focus is on envisioning your legacy. What do you want your life to accomplish?
Habit 2 is based on the principle that all things are created twice. The first creation is a vision or plan of what is to become. The second creation is the physical second creation. Most endeavors that fail, fail with the first creation. There is a first creation to every part of our lives. We are either the second creation of our own proactive creation, or we are the second creation of other people's agendas, of circumstances, or of past habits. We either plan our own life, or we live the life that others around us create for us. Habit 2 is based on principles of personal leadership, which means that leadership is the first creation. Management is the second creation.Management is doing things right, leadership is doing the right things. Often people get into managing with efficiency, setting and achieving goals before they have even clarified values.
Re-scripting: Becoming Your Own First Creator
Proactivity is based on the endowment of self-awareness, one of FIL's Key Concepts. Two additional endowments enable us to expand our proactivity and to exercise personal leadership in our lives. Imagination allows to visualize our potential. Conscience allows us to develop our talents within the context of principles and personal guidelines. Both imagination and conscience are built on self-awareness with self-knowledge and experience, two more FIL Key Concepts.
The most effective way to begin with the end in mind is to develop a personal mission statement. The key to the ability to change is a changeless sense of who you are, what you are about, and what you value.Once you have a sense of mission, you have the essence of your own proactivity; the vision and values which direct your life, the basic direction from which you set your goals.
Focus requires a clear mind and no distractions. Find a quiet place without phones, shut off your email program and center yourself in the moment. The idea is to get in touch with what matters the most to you, what you dream about. See the poem, Dare To Dream. If you are married, share this exercise with your spouse and do it together, sharing the results. Co-mingle your dreams, values, and mission statements, but keep them separate, making at least part of each statement solely about you.
Answer the following questions on your worksheet in the corresponding space. Try to allocate space in the circle by the level of importance you give each item, the more important, the bigger the slice.
Whatever is in the central priorities of our life will be the source of our security, guidance, wisdom, and power. What is at the center of your life? Is it your spouse, family, money, work, possessions, pleasure, friend/enemy, church, or self? Likely it is more than one of these. What are your greatest strengths? What have other's seen as your strengths? What do you deeply enjoy doing? What qualities of character do I most admire in others? Who is the one person that has made the greatest positive impact on my life? Why was that person able to have such significant impact? What have been the happiest moments in my life? Why were they happy? Surrounding your core self is the central priorities of your life, the source of our security, guidance, wisdom, and power. This could be your spouse, family, money, work, possessions, pleasure, friend/enemy, church, or self? Likely it is more than one of these or others. Pick up to three or four central priorities and write themaround the circle.
Looking at my physical, social, mental and spiritual needs and capacities, what quality of life results do I desire that are different from what I now have? Where do I see my physical, social, mental, and spiritual needs and capacities overlapping?
What are my important roles in life? What are the most important lifetime goals I want to fulfill in each role? What results am I currently getting that I like? Don't like? How might I rethink how I make these decisions in a different way that will produce better results? What would I really like to do and be in this life? What are your dreams?
What are my values? Make a list and prioritize the the top five on the back of the worksheet. Now look where your values line up with your dreams? Place the list of dreams and values side by side and adjust them so that your values are reflected in your dreams. Then place key words around the corresponding ring of the circle. Try to allocate space in the circle by the level of importance you give each item, the more important, the bigger the slice.
If I had unlimited time and resources, what would I choose to do? When I daydream, what do I see myself doing? What are the three or four most important things to me? When I look at my work life, what activities do I consider of greatest worth? When I look at my personal life, what activities do I consider of greatest worth? What can I do best that would be of worth to others? What talents do I have that no one else really knows about? Though I may have dismissed such thoughts many times before for various reasons, are there things I feel I really should do? What are they?
Are there any stories you know of that reflect well the patterns in your life as you have lived it so far? What would you like to do differently? Are these desired changes reflected in your dreams and values?
Envision your retirement. Do you have what you need to get there? Is there room for a second career, one that would be more of an informed choice, based on your dreams and values, and consistent with creating a legacy.
Write a mission statement for your life on the back of the worksheet. Keep it short, four or five lines reflecting your values, dreams, and goals. Then place key words around the outer ring of the circle. Try to allocate space in the circle by the level of importance you give each item, the more important, the bigger the slice.
Adapted from First Things First by Steven Covey, A. Roger Merrill, and Rebecca R. Merrill
© 1994 Covey Leadership Center, Inc. New York, NY