You Don’t Necessarily Need (or Want) to Begin with the End in Mind

Stephen R. Covey’s wildly successful The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People touts one of the seven habits as follows:

Begin with the End In Mind. This chapter is about setting long-term goals based on “true north” principles. Covey recommends formulating a “personal vision statement” to document one’s perception of one’s own vision in life. He sees visualization as an important tool to develop this. He also deals with organizational vision statements, which he claims to be more effective if developed and supported by all members of an organization rather than prescribed. Source:

This is obviously effective, setting long-term goals based on true principles.  Where I see a breakdown happen all the time is in just starting.  I suppose Covey might say be proactive (it’s numero uno).

Many times when people first begin building their internet business, they’re wanting to have an outlined, detailed business plan of exactly what they’re going to do to reach success (however defined) with their business.  You’ll see a person think through things to such an extent that they never actually start doing anything.

In this internet age, it’s even worse.  Why?  Because there is so much information available, you easily fall prety to paralysis by analysis.  For instanace let’s say you just want to get started with a little affiliate website where you try and get traffic through AdWords.  You could spend days — weeks — reading all about AdWords, optimizing, peeling and sticking, testing, evaluating, scrutinizing…

And never actually start.

Learning By Doing works.  Quite well.

Part of the reason we want to be outfitted with all the information possible (which right there disqualifies us, because that’s impossible) is because we’re afraid to make mistakes.  Learning from mistakes is a very quick way to learn, and it’s honestly not that expensive when you’re just starting.

Pick some key metrics that you want to track with your site: Visitors? Sales? Pageviews? Clickthroughs? Pick whatever’s important for your business goal and then write down three things that you need to DO (not learn about) to improve those metrics.  Do you need to reach out to other bloggers?  Write more? Find more keyword niches where you could profitably advertise?

Don’t worry about the Grand Scheme of Things when it comes to your business.  Don’t worry about every single logistic.  For heaven’s sake don’t waste a week on a logo, business card design, letterhead, legal formation, or accounting software.  That’s what I call circling the bush.  You only have success when you start beating the bush — circling it doesn’t do anything except give you a few warm fuzzies so you can go home at night feeling like you accomplished something.

Start DOING and things will fall into place–don’t worry so much about the big picture.  Suddenly, when you’re making money, you’ll need to do some accounting, and you’ll need to form a legal entity, and you’ll want to maybe have a professional-looking logo.  In the meantime, it’s better to just start (do the logo yourself) and not sweat the details.

3 comments On You Don’t Necessarily Need (or Want) to Begin with the End in Mind

  • Great tips. Life can pass you by while you’re trying to figure every detail out, so make a commitment to some sort of action now.

    If you would like to implement some of Stephen Covey’s best ideas, you can use this aplication:

    You can use it to manage and prioritize your Goals (in each of your life’s categories), projects and tasks, in an intuitive interface. It has a Checklists section, for the repetitive activities you have to do, important but not urgent (Quadrant II, for example your routines/habits). Also, it features a Schedules section and a Calendar, for scheduling you time, activities and for the weekly review.

    Some features from GTD are also present, like Contexts and Next Actions.

    And it’s available on the mobile phone too, so you can access it wherever you are.

  • Hi,

    You couldn’t be more right about the value of learning by doing. I’ve been guilty of over analyzing and over preparing and learning too much before taking action and actually doing what I learned.

    The truth is that without doing the learning just remains a theory which is useless unless it is tested.

    It is amazing how good it feels to get something done that works. This feeling beats the vague feeling of satisfaction one gets when learning without putting it into practice right away.

    What you wrote in this post also gave me a big relief as far as not having to plan everything with the end result in mind. I always felt that too much planning can be constricting because what we plan and the way we think will work the best is based on the limited view we have at a particular time. And in the meantime very little gets actually done.

    Because nearly everyone emphasizes detailed, the end result in mind planning I felt almost guilty about not wanting to detail plan and felt that I should be forcing myself to plan that way.

    Keep the good writing coming. I will most certainly come back to check it out.


  • Great post!! I think the point you made about not worrying about the grand scheme of things hits the target. Learning along the way is the best way to succeed in anything we do. Thanks for the valuable reminder.


Leave a reply:

Your email address will not be published.

Site Footer