Begin With the End in Mind

Welcome to 2016!

Have you decided what you want to accomplish this year?

Not the typical quit smoking, lose a few pounds, stop fighting with your mother-in-law kind of New Year’s Resolutions that most of us make (and break) each year. Think more along the lines of having established a clear, focused, mission-driven objective that pulls you forward into your desired future.

No? Well, you’re not alone.

Stephen Covey identified “beginning with the end in mind” as the second of his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and it is still fundamental to success. Although some people may achieve what they want by accident and dumb luck, they are the exception. In reality, expecting to accomplish an objective you haven’t even defined is a bit like paying your bills with anticipated lottery winnings—worse than a shot in the dark!

Where Do You Want to Go?

In Lewis Carroll’s famous children’s book, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice meets the Cheshire Cat and has the following conversation:

Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

On the surface, the exchange seems silly, (especially since Alice is talking to a cat with a ridiculously toothy grin—who talks back!), but the message within the banter is profound. If you don’t know where you want to go, then it doesn’t matter what you do or what road you take.

If, on the other hand, you have a clear vision of your destination and what you want to achieve, every choice is simple. Each action either moves you toward your objective or away from it. By using progress toward your goal as the primary criterion for assessment, it becomes much simpler to decide between various courses of action and select the best route to follow.

Of course, beginning with the end in mind is not just about setting goals and then using them to drive your actions and choices. It’s about crafting a personal vision and mission that reflect who you want to be as well as what you want to accomplish. Because blindly pursuing goals that prove hollow once you’ve achieved them is just as futile as having no direction at all.

What is a Personal Mission Statement?

If you haven’t yet decided what you want to do, be and create in 2016; now’s the time. Why not start by placing a unique lodestar in the sky to guide you by defining your personal mission. Then you can think about setting some S.M.A.R.T. goals to keep you moving in the right direction.

There are plenty of tools and worksheets available to help you create a personal mission statement. For example, William Arruda, author of Ditch, Dare, Do: 3D Personal Branding for Executives offers this simple formula that combines three elements:

The value you create + who you’re creating it for + the expected outcome.

Your mission statement can be as short as a sentence or two, or much more detailed—as long as it says what you need it to say. To help you get started, here are a few examples of personal mission statements created by some famous and not so famous individuals.

Mahatma Gandhi

Let the first act of every morning be to make the following resolve for the day: I shall not fear anyone on earth. I shall fear only God. I shall not bear ill toward anyone. I shall not submit to injustice from anyone. I shall conquer untruth by truth. And in resisting untruth, I shall put up with all suffering.[1]

Amanda Steinberg, Founder of

To use my gifts of intelligence, charisma, and serial optimism to cultivate the self-worth and net-worth of women around the world.[2]

Sir Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group

To have fun in my journey through life and learn from my mistakes.[3]

Romaine Brown, Lawyer

My mission is to provide legal representation that is tailored to the client’s individual needs. My goal is to effectively advocate the rights of each client in a professional and aggressive manner.[4]

Why Write a Personal Mission Statement?

The greatest value in achieving a worthwhile goal is becoming the person you must be in order to achieve it. Taking the time to define your personal mission statement works in a similar way. In addition to providing constant guidance and the force to pull you toward your desired future, the actual process of crafting your mission:

  • Forces you to think deeply about your life, clarify the purpose of your life, and identify what is really important to you.
  • Forces you to clarify and express succinctly your deepest values and aspirations.
  • Imprints your values and purposes firmly in your mind so they become a part of you, rather than something you only think about occasionally.[5]

2016 is a brand new year. And it’s a leap year, so you have an extra day. Why not use that extra day it to think about what matters most; to think about everything you want to do, be and create this year and beyond. Set your lodestar in the sky and then you can start charting your course to reach it.


Harness the power of mission driven goals with NetSuite TribeHR!

Photo credit: Photo by nuttakit, courtesy of

[1] David Kinard, Developing Your Own Personal Mission Statement

[2] Personal Mission Statements of 5 Famous CEOs (and why you should write one too).


[5] Leadership Development Institute: Personal Mission Statement. The Value of Developing a Personal Mission Statement.


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