Habit 2: Begin With The End in Mind

Habit 2: Begin With The End in Mind

Steven Covey’s seminal work, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” encapsulates essential habits that underpin personal and professional success. The second habit, “Begin with the End in Mind,” remains vital to this philosophy. This habit demands a deep understanding, going beyond the fundamental implications of the phrase. The true power lies in its application, influencing our lives, shaping our decisions, and guiding us toward success.

The Concept

“Begin with the End in Mind” advocates the importance of vision and foresight. It implores us to visualize our desired outcomes before initiating any endeavor. This forward-thinking approach allows us to align our short-term actions with long-term objectives. By having a clear idea of the destination, we create a practical roadmap that facilitates smarter decisions, resulting in better utilization of time, energy, and resources.

The Importance of This Habit for Personal Effectiveness

For anyone striving for personal effectiveness, adopting this habit is paramount. It fosters purposefulness and focus, preventing us from becoming derailed by distractions or obstacles. When we visualize our end goal, we generate motivation and determination, two critical elements in achieving personal success.

Examples of ‘Beginning with the End in Mind’ in Real Life

The best examples are found in the realms of business and personal life. Successful entrepreneurs start their ventures with a clear vision of their final product, service, or business size. This allows them to strategize, make critical decisions, and persist despite challenges. Similarly, individuals who achieve personal success – be it in health, relationships, or personal growth – start with a clear vision of their desired end state.

Strategies for Developing This Habit

Developing this habit involves regular self-reflection and goal-setting. Begin by defining your values, what success means to you, and what you want to achieve. Once you have your ‘end’ in mind, plan your actions to reach there. This may involve setting smaller, achievable goals and deadlines contributing to your overarching goal.

  1. Define Your Core Values: These fundamental beliefs guide our decisions and behavior. For example, if one of your core values is honesty, always ensure your actions align with this value, irrespective of the situation.
  2. Establish a Clear Vision: Visualize your ideal future in detail. For instance, if you aspire to become a successful entrepreneur, imagine your business’s scale, the products or services you offer, your customer base, and even your workplace culture.
  3. Set SMART Goals: Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. For example, instead of “I want to lose weight,” a SMART goal would be “I want to lose 10 pounds in three months by exercising 5 times a week and reducing junk food intake.”
  4. Prioritize Your Goals: Not all goals hold the same importance. Decide which ones need your immediate attention and which can be achieved over a longer period. For example, saving for retirement might be a long-term goal, while paying off a credit card debt might require immediate action.
  5. Develop Action Plans: For each goal, create a plan detailing the steps needed to achieve it. If your goal is to write a book, your plan might include outlining chapters, setting a daily word count target, and scheduling regular time for writing.
  6. Adopt a Positive Mindset: Cultivate an optimistic outlook, as it can fuel your drive towards your goals. For instance, if you face a setback, view it as a learning opportunity rather than a failure.
  7. Regularly Review Your Progress: Periodically check how well you are advancing towards your goals. For example, if your goal is to run a marathon, regularly check your endurance levels and tweak your training regimen if required.
  8. Stay Flexible: Adjust your goals as situations change. For example, if an injury prevents you from training for a marathon, shift your focus towards recovery and gradually building your strength back.
  9. Seek Feedback: External perspectives can provide valuable insights. If your goal is to improve your public speaking skills, ask for constructive feedback from colleagues or mentors and incorporate their suggestions.
  10. Celebrate Small Wins: Celebrating progress, no matter how small, boosts motivation. If you’ve achieved a sub-goal within your bigger goal, take time to acknowledge your hard work. For instance, if you’ve successfully saved a part of your income for three consecutive months, treat yourself to something you enjoy.

The Challenges

While this habit is effective, it’s not always easy to implement. Challenges can arise from uncertain environments, lack of clarity about one’s goals, or difficulty maintaining focus amidst distractions. It’s important to remember that while the ‘end’ provides direction, the journey will inevitably involve adaptability and resilience.

How This Habit Interacts with Other Habits

This habit doesn’t exist in isolation. It interplays with other habits in Covey’s framework. For instance, Habit #1: ‘Be Proactive,’ requires you to take ownership and action, while ‘Begin with the End in Mind’ directs that action. Moreover, Habit #3: ‘Put First Things First,’ helps you prioritize tasks based on your defined ‘end.’

Measuring Success

Measuring this habit involves evaluating whether your actions align with your defined ‘end.’ Regular self-reflection is a valuable tool here. You can also monitor progress towards your smaller, contributory goals and adjust your strategy as needed.

Case Study: Embracing “Begin with the End in Mind” at XYZ Corporation


XYZ Corporation, a mid-sized technology company, had been experiencing stagnant growth for several years. The leadership team, recognizing a need for strategic change, turned to Steven Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” for guidance, explicitly focusing on Habit #2: “Begin with the End in Mind.”

Implementing the Habit

With a mission to transform their stagnation into robust growth, XYZ leadership decided to visualize their desired outcome: to become an industry leader known for innovative solutions. They articulated this vision clearly, defining it as their ‘end.’

The next step involved setting measurable goals aligned with this ‘end.’ They included increasing their market share by 15% in the next three years, launching five new innovative products in the same period, and improving their brand perception scores.

Once the goals were established, the leadership devised detailed action plans for each purpose. These ranged from allocating more budget to research and development, implementing aggressive marketing strategies, to enhancing customer service.

Challenges Encountered

Implementing “Begin with the End in Mind” was challenging. The leadership faced resistance from some team members accustomed to the old way of doing things. Additionally, external market pressures and fluctuating customer demands required the company to adjust its plans several times.

Despite these obstacles, the leadership remained resilient, regularly reviewed progress, and recalibrated their action plans. The clear vision and overarching goals were a constant guide, helping the company navigate difficulties.


After three years of implementing “Begin with the End in Mind,” XYZ Corporation saw a significant transformation. They achieved a market share growth of 18%, surpassing their initial goal. They launched six innovative products, exceeding their target. Moreover, their brand perception scores improved notably, indicating enhanced customer perception.

The experience of XYZ Corporation underscores the power of Habit #2: “Begin with the End in Mind.” This strategic visioning process facilitated their turnaround, transforming them from a stagnant organization to a growing, innovative player in their industry.

This case study illustrates that “Begin with the End in Mind” can face resistance and requires constant revisiting and refinement. It offers a practical and effective strategy for achieving long-term goals. It allows organizations to stay focused on their objectives and provides a roadmap to navigate uncertainties and challenges.


and clear direction. This habit demands constant introspection, goal setting, and course correction. But the reward is profound. It endows us with an ability to navigate life with greater purpose and effectiveness, leading to the realization of our deepest aspirations.

In our fast-paced, constantly changing world, beginning with the end in mind provides the much-needed anchor. It ensures that amidst the ebb and flow of life, we remain steadfast in our journey toward our goals. As we shape our lives, let’s remember to envisage our destination clearly, plan effectively, act decisively, and carry forward the habit of ‘Beginning with the End in Mind’ as our guiding beacon.

Implementing this habit does not mean we will not face obstacles or challenges. Quite the contrary, it is likely that we will encounter even more. But having a clear end in mind will give us the strength, resilience, and perspective to view these challenges not as setbacks but as stepping stones on our path to success.

Remember, “All things are created twice; first mentally, then physically.” The key to success is ensuring this first creation aligns with our desire.