Dissecting The 7 Habits by Stephen R. Covey: Habit #2 ‘Keeping The End In Mind’

3 min


Two people can see the same thing and yet have different perspectives about it. This is the starting point of Stephen Covey’s book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.’ The purpose of understanding this is essentially to make the reader believe in the power of paradigm shifts, if they don’t already. Only by believing that your perspective can change (and that different perspectives exist) will you be able to change your mental experience and perceptions.

After understanding this key concept, Covey introduces what he believes to be the most powerful habits one can practice to live effectively. Cactico brings you an analysis of each of the 7 habits as well as our own thoughts on them in order to help solidify their meaning further.

“First you have to give up, first you have to know, not fear – know that someday you’re gonna die. ” – Tyler Durden from Fight Club.


Contemplate your death

Stephen Covey begins this chapter inviting the reader to envision their own funeral. It’s a terrifying image, but understanding this (or knowing, as Tyler Durden says) will motivate you to start making changes to your life. Knowing how scarce your time on earth actually is pushes you to do something with it.

People who are on the go and never seem to take a break are very aware of the little time they have in the day, which is why they use their time wisely. If you’re not afraid of wasting time, then you’re fear is probably in the wrong place. You don’t have to worry about it all the time, you just need to know the reality of how your time in life is limited.

Petty jealousies and people’s opinion of us (especially people we don’t care about) seem to wither away when we’re concerned with making the most out of our time.

You need motivation from both ends of the spectrum

Canadian Psychologist Jordan B. Peterson is known for his ideas about Order and Chaos. There are many ways to use these ideas, but for this habit in particular, talking about how order and chaos can motivate us is the most relevant.

The obvious definitions of Order and Chaos respectively is basically predictable and unpredictable. If we were to predict our future outcomes, we can imagine the most positive extreme (if all things are in order), and the most negative extreme (if chaos takes over). The positive extreme can be considered motivation that makes you fight for what you want, while the negative extreme serves as something to run away from. This, Peterson believes, is the optimal place to be.

The reason why having only one extreme is not as effective as both is because if we run from the negative extreme, we are simply avoiding chaos, but not necessarily choosing the best version of our life. When keeping only the positive extreme in mind, you have little reason to actually pursue a better life if you’re life is comfortable enough already. Yes, you would like the postive extreme to happen, but nothing bad will necessarily happen to you if you don’t pursue it. That’s why living between order and chaos motivates you the most and grants you the most fulfilling life.

Begin With The End In Mind

Before working towards a future you want, it helps to sit down and envision what you want it to be like first. If you want to follow Peterson’s advice, then you would also envision the most terrible outcome.

There is no need to stick to the plan if changes occur, however. Revising the path you take is an important step as well when navigating through life. Paradigm shifts are not a one time thing, they can happen multiple times, making your perception of the world (hopefully) more accurate. If your new perspective creates new visions of what you want your life to be, and older visions no longer fulfill you, then by all means change course. There is no need to stick to one vision, dreams can change.

Did you find this article useful? Let us know in the comments below and feel free to share your own thoughts! Make sure to check out our article where we go into depths about the first habit in case you missed it!

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