Start at the Very Ending

Sat, Nov 23, 2013

Simplicity Rules

Let’s say you’re visiting a friend in a nearby city, driving by car to get there. How do you know when to leave?

Well, that depends when you want to get there, right? For some reason, when planning a trip it is natural to work backwards from the end result. If you want to arrive at noon and it takes an hour to drive there, leave at 11. You’ll need to allow another 30 minutes to stop and pick up a gift, so that’s 10:30 now. And it always takes 15 minutes to load up the car, so 10:15.

For other goals and achievements it doesn’t seem to be that simple. This year, as part of my effort to get better at one thing, I’m trying to begin with the end in mind. And it’s been challenging. I often find myself returning to my old ways.

Here are some questions I ask myself to help me work backwards:

  • What does this look like when complete?
  • How do I feel once I’m done?
  • How have I changed when I’ve finished?
  • What are the assumptions I am making?

I’m not a runner, but I know the hardest part of running is the start. In fact, it may even be earlier. I’ve heard it said that putting on your running shoes is the most important part of being a runner.

Yet, the end is also key. You probably want to know how far you will run. Just setting out running is a good way to avoid procrastination, but how do you know the run is over? How do you know you haven’t short-changed yourself? Or exhausted yourself?

Forward progress feels good, but it might not be the progress you need. That’s why I’m trying to think first about the end and work my way backwards. What are some ways you have done this effectively?

Leave a Reply