Begin with the End in Mind

  • Spend time envisioning where you want your life or career to end up.
  • Apply this exercise to smaller projects that you’re working on.

This creative technique is adapted from Stephen Covey and his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I am neither highly effective nor do I have any good habits, but let’s proceed anyways.

How it Works

When working on creative projects, it’s important to take some time to envision where you want to take your life as an artist. If for example, you are a musician, you might imagine that one day you will perform the most amazing concert known to the planet.

You can really sit on that vision for a few minutes and try to live it. Then, it might come to you that this concert is the most silly aspiration, because really you just wanted to be heard on Spotify or whatever the next Spotify will be called in 20 years, possibly SpiffySound, and you have no clue why you had been spending all this time getting ready to audition for the symphony when you just wanted to get played on SpiffySound.

Maybe, just maybe, the whole music thing started to seem a little silly, because you actually wanted to make movies instead, and this music thing was some sort of sad little ploy because you were too afraid to tell anyone that you wanted to become a filmmaker after your Uncle Morty was banished from Hollywood after a series of complete and utter failures that depleted the family’s savings accounts and will take three generations of hard work to repair.

This Technique Requires Maintenance

Taking time to imagine your future is a continual process. You cannot do it by sitting down one time and trying this out. You have to write out the results of your imagination exercise, and then re-write them out a day or two later.

And then you just keep doing it, so that lord help that you don’t end up living the life that Uncle Morty has with all the pain he’s wrought on the family.

It Applies to the Smaller Projects Too

Beginning with the end in mind doesn’t just apply to your life though. It’s also about envisioning where a project is going to end up. For example, in the process of developing Spaghetti Lab, I don’t really know exactly how this project is going to look or where it’s going to end up. But I have a vision of creating a community around experimentation with technology and adding more elements of play into work.

I have a general idea or feeling of what I want to make, and over time the particulars of how that gets executed will naturally change.

Have you tried this technique, and how has this affected the type of work you do?

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