Begin with the end in mind.
That’s a mantra we’ve heard time and again. I’ve used it to frame many of my greatest challenges. Tim Ferriss emphasizes this philosophy along with decision fatigue and effectiveness. Steven Covey presented it as one of his almighty Seven Habits.
Recently, a friend brought up another thought, a sort of continuation on the more familiar one. That finishing on a good note sets the tone for starting it well the next time.
There’s a story that Josh Waitzkin tells of a downhill skier. The athlete faces many troubles. Among them are waiting in the cold before the start. Maintaining balance and calm as velocity increases. The potential for serious injury with a mistake.
But the most important part of the run is the very end. As the skier approaches the bottom of the hill, nearing the lift, the tendency is to relax, loosen up on the turns, and glide to an easy stop. This is detrimental to good practice, according to Waitzkin.
It is critical that the skier perform at her best through the last two turns. This is how she ends, before coming to a stop, getting back on the lift, and riding up the hill.
The attitude, effort, mentality of precision and focus that ends the run will remain with her on the quiet ride to the mountaintop. This mindset powers her next run.
She must end with the beginning in mind.
The same is true for strength training. How intentionally do I perform my last repetition? This will carry over to the start of my next session.
The same is true for a day at the office. How did I complete my last task? How did I say my goodnights and how did I walk out the door? Cheerfully? Meaningfully? Head held high? This accompanied me the next morning.
The same is true for a deep conversation. How do I end the talk? With energy, positivity, openness? It will last in the time until the next intercourse with this person.
The same is true for a meal. Do I portion well so that I still savor my last bite? The same gratitude will bless the first moments of my next meal.
The same is true for each day. What are my thoughts as I allow myself to finally rest my head? I will wake the next day in that very realm.
This means we can conclude sooner than we normally would for many things. Before we eat too much, converse too long, work too hard. Before we take good things beyond the point that they are good.
It means we need to know ourselves, and each other, enough to say, okay, this is as good as it’s gonna be right now, let’s stop. Let’s come back again strong. Just like now.
End with the beginning in mind.