Beginning with the end in mind

It doesn’t matter how successful you are at felling trees and clearing undergrowth, or indeed how hard you work, if ultimately you are in the wrong jungle.- Stephen Covey

The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.- Lily Tomlin

If you don’t know where you are going you will probably end up someplace else.- Lawrence J. Peter

What does beginning with the end mean? What is the end? We can call the end ‘success’ but what does success really mean?

Is a person who manages to become the CEO of an organisation but get divorced from his wife and separated from his children successful? Was Michael Jackson, who needed propofol to go to sleep each day successful?

For me that is not success. These people have managed to become successfully unsuccessful. They might have almost climbed Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, but they have not reached self actualisation. They have failed to understand that wealth and status is not success, real success. They did not have the right end in mind. They focused on gaining material things while sacrificing other things. But in all things material, you quickly adapt to what you acquire and you want more. When you first climb into your new car you get a buzz. The buzz is gone when you do it the 98th time. They experience hedonic adaptation. They adapt to their wealth. Obviously you need to have enough money, but only enough, and not more.

How can you become successfully successful?

Look at this model, the FLOURISH model:

Friends-the people you socialise with
Love– your romantic relationships
Occupation– how you spend your working time
Usual environment– your home, its setting and the life-style opportunities it offers
Relatives– your relatinships with your family members
Income– your personal finances
Spare time– how you spend your free time
Health– your physical being

The things that you want in these spheres is what your dream life looks like. But remember even if you get what you want, you can still be dissatisfied if you compare yourself to others or you neglect some of these areas. A balance is needed. You have to remember –

  • Even when you are really successful, you quickly adapt to what you acquire and you simply want more.(people who wear a suit to work are not happier than those who wear overalls)
  • Most people don’t understand the difference between what they think will make them happy and what will actually make them happy.( living in California does not make you happier than living in Minnesota)

And, some things that you can do to get the end “right” are:

  1. Make your relationships as strong as they can be. Have focused and trusting social relationships.
  2. Set goals that include doing something that is meaningful to you. One way to discover that is to ask yourself: If money was no object, what would you want to spend your time doing?
  3. Revisit your priorities and make sure you are not caught in the never ending spiral of constantly wanting more.

The real right end is happiness and fulfillment, not money, material success, status or fame. Understand this and you can easily find the right end.


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