“Begin with the end in mind”

Many years ago, a friend suggested that I read Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I thought it was going to be another time management book – boy, was I wrong.

Covey defines a habit as “the intersection of knowledge, skill, and desire.” On this first day of a new year, the 2nd habit seems particularly useful.

Begin with the end in mind.

While at times it seems like a luxury, living our lives with intention is increasingly important. The years fly by quickly (doesn’t it seem as if we just celebrated the end of 2010?), and at times we can feel as though we are at the mercy of the circumstances of our lives. So take a few minutes at this juncture and run the film of your life ahead to one year from now, the end of 2012. What do you really want your life to be like? What is important to you about this? What would it mean to you if you could change your life in this way?

Would you like to learn about a new subject? Volunteer with your family at a soup kitchen or another local charity? Cultivate new friendships? At the end of 2012, what change would make you feel more satisfied with your life?

Take a few minutes right now to brainstorm ways in which you can make the new activity a reality. Did you know that reading five minutes a day will add up to 30 hours over the course of the year? Or perhaps setting aside 1-2 hours a week to read would be more enjoyable. Each new idea can be accomplished in many ways, so decide what would work best for you. Then, take out your calendar and schedule the time to make it happen.

Intentionally include what is important to you in your schedule. Keep your desired “end” in mind. After all, it is your life.

About Helane Fronek

Over the past 28 years I have had a fascinating and fulfilling career in medicine, initially practicing as a general internist and then as a procedural specialist, caring for patients with vein disorders. As Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at UC- San Diego School of Medicine, I’m thrilled to be teaching medical students crucial communication skills along with many other aspects involved in the practice of medicine.
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