Posted by: cindystephenson | January 30, 2010

Avoiding those activity traps

I’m re-reading Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. One of the habits he espouses is to “begin with the end in mind”.

He invites readers to go through an exercise where you close your eyes and imagine you are at a funeral. Lots of people you know are there – family members, friends, colleagues, and people you know from various community organizations They are speaking about the person who has died. Then for the kicker – it’s your own imaginary funeral.

Covey then invites you to consider what it is you would like them to say about you and your life. What kind of husband, wife, father or mother would you like their words to reflect? What kind of friend? Look carefully at the people there and think about what kind of difference you would like to have made in their lives.

This is his metaphor for “beginning with the end in mind.”

It’s incredibly easy, through the busy-ness of life, to get caught up in activity traps, working harder and harder at climbing the ladder of success, only to discover your ladder is leaning against the wrong wall. It’s also possible to be busy – very busy – without spending time on things that really matter to you.

If you were to carefully consider what you wanted others to say about you in the funeral experience, you would have YOUR definition of success.

Knowing what really matters to you makes it easier when deciding what to spend your time on.

A strategy that works for me is to set aside time to periodically consider those activities that are going to help me get there and commit to making time for them.

Committing to spend time on those gives me a real sense of satisfaction and of being in control. It’s very empowering. Hard work and not easy, but rewarding.

Photo credit: Garry –

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