Habit 2 – Begin with the End in Mind

Today we are discussing the Second Habit in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. “Begin with the End in Mind.” (I read Chapter 1 in the Spring, which discusses being proactive). The first part of the chapter asks the reader to envision his or her own funeral. If this is a difficult task for some – either because it is painful or you just lack the ability to properly visualize – continue reading…

ShawnieMac was in her mid-thirties, newly married and clearly in the midst of a passionate and adventurous life. Cancer was her ultimate undoing, a nemesis she had battled for years, and she did not go down without a fight.

She was a beautiful and fierce woman and I was blessed to work alongside her for two and half years. Throughout my health troubles and divorce, she was a soothing voice of reason and reassurance. I bounced new spiritual ideas off of her, such as Buddhism, holistic living, mindfulness and so on. Throughout her illness, she remained concerned about the wellbeing of those around her and worked diligently on her career, writing and in her charitable efforts under the assumption that she would win out in the end.

She was madly in love with her husband. The bond and passion they shared was palpable. They were truly together and will forever shade my idea of what it means to be in love.

But there, in the cemetery chapel, was a room so packed with people who loved ShawnieMac that they were willing to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers, or even stand in the lobby or outside and listen to the muffled sounds of the service. Tears streamed, even on the faces of grown men with dirt under their fingernails. Even my icy heart warmed at the sight of ShawnieMac’s photographs, the amusing stories her closest friends and family shared and the image of her playing with her dogs.

She chased down the things she wanted and she relished them. She found great love and held onto it, confronting the fears and struggles that go along with it. You know how when people die loved ones tend to glorify them? In this case, everything everyone said was still not enough to convey how awesome ShawnieMac was.

When the cancer finally took her, my own life had started a descent into a very dark place. I was struggling; I lacked a vision for my future and could not let go of anger over job loss and the loss of love.
I hated myself in that moment for being such a selfish and miserable person. ShawnieMac had set out to create an amazing life for herself, with her own bare hands, and succeeded. My life was my own fault because of my attitude.

The book urges readers to develop a personal mission statement and code of ethics to use as a yardstick to ensure daily actions are in line with the imagined end result. While everyone has different goals, most of us would wish for a funeral like the one above. The final chapter on a life so illustriously lived that one’s death creates bittersweet ripples across the community.
For more information about ShawnieMac and her story, or ways to donate to the Breast Cancer 3-Day, click here.

Discussion of the remaining habits can be found here.