BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND
I am sure we have all heard the saying ‘begin with the end in mind’ more times than we care to remember. Most times this is said in the context of our own lives and how we should be approaching the goal realization process. Perhaps the best-known individual on this is Steven Covey in his ‘The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People’, where habit 2 speaks to this directly.
I was reminded of this very saying a week ago when I had a one-on-one meeting with my mentor. In conversation my mentor asked me what my end goal is. I asked him what he meant and at that very moment I realized that in so much as I understand where I see the business going, I have not actively put together my business end goal.
A business end goal is all about where you see yourself as a businessperson in seven to ten years. Unlike a typical business mission and vision statement, this is about you the person in as much as it is about the business.
Take for example a person who wants their business to be the leader in providing information communication technology (ICT) on the African continent; the key question is how will this person know when the milestone has been reached? What are they using as a yardstick for success?
More than that, what is the ultimate role you would like to play in business? You may want your company to be a regional leader in its area of work, but your personal ambition may be to have multiple business interests without you being necessarily involved in each business on a day-today basis.
It may be that your passion is unrelated to the daily grind of deal making and operations management, but rather in advocating for a particular cause that gives meaning to your life
In this particular case, what drives you is the ability to derive income while not being bogged down by the minutia of managing a business or multiple business interests. Your end goal is thus to create businesses that allow you to spend your energies on things that bring you meaning. Thus, by year x, you want to be in a position to have built businesses that run independently of your daily input so that that you can focus your time on what your care most about.
When you begin with the end in mind, you are letting your imagination guide you. As Steven Covey puts it, the exercise of imagination is based on the principle that all things are created twice: first mentally and then the actual physical creation, with the physical following the mental in the same way a building follows a blueprint.
The world of business is challenging and often times we are stretched beyond our limits. It is during those times that our bigger goal/end needs to carry us through. Taking the ICT company example, say now an opportunity comes to take the business to other markets, your end goal enables you to make an informed decision on what you need to do.
For instance, will the time requirements of moving beyond conquered markets square up with your personal end goal? Perhaps you may end up concluding that the potential revenue does not justify sacrificing these goals, or that your team requirements must support this ambition to the largest extent possible.
You can only square up your personal vs. business interests once you have made an honest determination of what is important to you and where you see yourself at your predetermined timeframe. Lack of such a determination may leave you drifting and following others’ priorities/ambitions without the gratification that your journey should bring you.
While waiting to reach your pinnacle point, you can still do something towards achieving your personal ambitions by doing small tasks towards that very end.
How do you start you may be wondering? Below are three actions you can start with you to ensure you are continuously working towards the end in mind:
Develop a business and personal goal statement
This statement should answer the questions of what and who you want to be. Aligned to that is what you would like your business end to look like at point x; in other words, what is your ultimate business objective?
Be sure to be as clear as daylight when you work through this- the clearer and specific you are, the better will be your ability to continuously measure your progress. This statement should be an articulation of that mental picture which will form the beginning to the physical realization.
Take it one day at a time
When you begin with the end in mind, your days will never be the same again. Each task, or project will be a clear fit into the bigger end. Only then are you able to make things happen for your personal and business ambitions.
Your decision-making improves, as you know instinctively what makes sense and in what way this makes sense. Conflicts between personal and business goals are clearly identifiable and can be resolved in a more systematic way.
It’s not cast in stone
In as much as your business plan is a fluid document, so is your personal plan. Just because you have a desire to advocate for children’s’ rights in your 20s does not mean that’s what you ultimately want to do.
Be open minded to the changes you need to make as you go along, review your timeframes, and reassess your priorities from time to time. When you are true to yourself, irrespective of what your goal statement looks like today- the values you hold and your passions stay with you.
When you begin with the end in mind, you put yourself in a better position to succeed. You do not make haphazard decisions around your business and personal life. It is only then that you can have a better grip of you in your entirety.