A few years back, when I was still in the corporate field as a working (you know- away from the home) woman, I had the chance to attend a time management seminar. This was way back before video conferencing was an everyday thing that happened at your desktop- you actually had to travel to a site that had the ability to “link up” with another location. That's how I found myself in a big fancy hotel ballroom with about 500 other people, eyes glued to a large cinema-style screen, listening to Stephen Covey describe his “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. And I remember that feeling of having the rest of the room drop away, as I became deeply entranced by his guidance on how to make the most out of my life- both professionally as well as personally. (And yes, for the next ten years I was devotee of the Franklin Covey personal planner system, which in retrospect, became the foundation for all of my planning skills).
What sticks with me the most from that seminar, was Stephen Covey's 2nd habit, “Begin with the end in mind”. I remember that he asked us to close our eyes, and imagine fast-forwarding in time to the day of our own funeral. He asked us to try to think about what others might say about us; might remember about how we lived our lives. And he asked us to imagine how we would look back at our own life. Was it a life well-lived? Are we proud of what we accomplished during our short time here on earth? Is there anything that we would change, if we could? He then asked us to open our eyes and come back to the present- and he said something to the effect of, “If every day you lived your life with the end in mind, you would spend your days working towards those big goals, those things that you want to say that you accomplished over the course of your life. And you would shed from your “to do list” those things that don't directly lead you to achieving your goals.”
Wow- that is a pretty powerful thing to think about….
(umm… does that mean I don't need to clean the house anymore?… certainly that is not leading me to any of my big goals in life, right? or is it?)
As I think about this idea in terms of our family, and specifically this time period in my life when we are raising our children- I think a better “end” to have in mind is each of our children's graduation day- be it high school, college, grad school, whatever that final graduation day is- when each kid is ready to head out into the world as a full-fledged, self-sustaining adult. If that is the end that I have in mind… what are my goals for that point in time? What is it that I want to have achieved before that day?
I think each person needs to come up with her own idea of what those goals are- Stephen Covey would call it your “personal mission statement”. Now I am not saying that my personal mission statement is complete- but here are some thoughts that I have:
- I want to teach my children the ability to create their own happiness. To do this, they need to know how to set their own goals, and find their own tools and steps to achieve those aspirations.
- I want to impart to my children a love of learning, and to embrace education as the doorway to so many wonderful things in life.
- I want them to learn to appreciate all that their bodies can do, and to understand that it takes care and nurturing in terms of good food, a healthy lifestyle, and exercise to keep their body healthy and strong.
- I want my children to appreciate and respect others- to know empathy and be able to “walk in someone else's shoes”. I want them to be able to practice kindness towards others- in daily life as well as in acts of charity.
- I want them to develop their own sense of morality and integrity. I want them to learn to listen to that inner voice- the one that will ask them to “do the right thing.”
- I want my children to know who they are, what they believe in, and develop the courage to stand up for their convictions.
- I want my children who were born in China, to build a relationship with their birth culture and language so as to have an understanding of where they came from, which is an integral part of who they are.
- I want them to dream big dreams, live their lives with passion, and learn that there is faith and hope in the world.
Yes- all of that……. okay, and I want world peace too…….
So next week- we will talk about how we can construct our schedule, our time, and our life around achieving the goals that we have set- when we have begun “with the end in mind.”