November 5, 2013
Guest article by Jerry Ross:
In Steven Covey’s book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” chapter two is entitled, “Begin with the End in Mind.” Since reading the book, I’ve tried to apply that principle in my business and investment decisions, but also in many simple ways too. I might picture a successful trip to the grocery store or the hardware store envisioning what I need to return home carrying. I may even begin a home repair endeavor by first imagining the beautiful result that will emerge from the project at hand. Unfortunately, many times these simple tasks don’t turn out how I envisioned them, even when I began with the end in mind! Most times, I encounter obstacles, challenges, or distractions that I didn’t see when I began. There are distractions along the way to the grocery store, like a super garage sale, or maybe it is wallpaper that just will not come un-stuck from the wall that I am trying to paint. It seems there is always something unexpected even in the simplest of tasks. You envision how you would like things to turn out, but you can’t predict what you will encounter that directly affects how you end up… especially at the beginning. It seems so simple, but things are not always as simple as they seem.
Running a business and investing are much more complex than running simple errands or taking on a home repair project. The consequences of an unanticipated obstacle can be devastating to a business or an investment portfolio. While it is good practice to always “begin with the end in mind,” every business decision (or investment decision) will require monitoring and adjustments along the way. Identifying your destination prior to setting sail is a critical first step, however it is essential that you constantly adjust your sails to accommodate changes in the wind along the way, rather than trying to predict or overpower the wind.
Monitoring progress and making adjustments in pursuit of your goal is good common sense, but it is a critical business and investment practice. Those who can anticipate potential challenges in advance and include flexibility in their plans can quickly adjust to opportunities along the way, and don’t become overwhelmed by unforeseen obstacles. When I project a realistic time frame, allow adequate time for decision making, and seek knowledgeable input along the way, my “end result” is usually closer to my original vision of success…which brings me back to chapter two of Mr. Covey’s book…the action part of achieving your goals.
Visualizing your result and setting a goal is just the initial part of the equation. Action is required to achieve any goal you set. True success in investing, managing a business or even going to the hardware store won’t happen unless you take action, and adjust your course as needed along the way. Being successful in any endeavor will require an investment of your time and attention. Goals and plans without taking action are merely wishes, yet action without planning is just activity, which will very seldom lead you to the success you desire. So, as we approach the end of 2013, now is a great time to re-assess your goals, make adjustments as needed, develop your plans, and then take action to make 2014 a great year…but remember to begin with the end in mind!
Jerry is a life-long entrepreneur and currently holds the position of Executive Director at the National Entrepreneur Center located in Central Florida. He is also on the advisory board of NuView IRA, helping to guide best practices for the self-directed IRA administrator as well as enhance its customer experience. You can follow Jerry on Twitter at @JerryRossOnline.