We have a lot on our plates, we stay-at-home, homeschooling moms. It’s easy to begin to feel flustered, scattered, overwhelmed, pulled in too many directions. I am always on the alert for strategies and habits that will help me stay afloat better, not only in my home but also in my own head. Sometimes even when it doesn’t look in my home like I’m drowning, I am still drowning in the chaos in my head. And sometimes when the house looks chaotic, it’s actually because I’m doing ok in my head and following through on right priorities – the house not being at the top at that moment.
To climb out of the chaos that threatens to sink us inside our own imaginings, emotions, and thoughts, we need perspective. We need a clear view, above the fray. What is the big picture and where are we in it?
Beginning with the end in mind is habit 2 in Franklin Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” a book I read and loved in college. Beginning with the end in mind is envisioning what you want in the future so that you know specifically what you’re working toward. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re not likely to get there.
I love double-meanings and layered meanings in phrases, and I think this one presents us with more than meets the eye if we examine it.
What is the end?
- a final part of something, especially a period of time, an activity, or a story
- the furthest or most extreme part or point of something
- a goal or result that one seeks to achieve
Now, when Covey writes about beginning with the end in mind, I believe he is using the third meaning of “end” there – what is the goal you’re trying for? And that is important. But just as important are the other meanings.
Begin with the goal in mind
What result are we trying to achieve? If we don’t know the answer to that question, then it’s no wonder we feel scattered and unable to decide what to do next, unsure if what we’ve done is “good enough.”
The time spent thinking through what we’re trying to accomplish – and making sure it’s realistic – is invaluable.
Begin with the extreme point in mind
This meaning of “end” is the one used in such phrases as “I’m at the end of my rope.” And that’s how we feel when we have not had the time to step back, refresh ourselves, and remind ourselves of our true end.
The extreme point on something is also it’s teleological end: it’s eternal point, final meaning. “What is man’s chief end?” the catechism asks. And we must always work, knowing that our answer to that question is, “To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” But what does that look like in our daily, mundane lives of laundry and lists?
Begin with the final story in mind
We are all living a story that is not over until the end of our lives. Even then, we will find it has only been the beginning, because our eternal story will be praising God in the new heavens and new earth.
This is perspective. If we can climb up and stop seeing only our bad day, our own little temper tantrum, our huge laundry pile, and see them in the context of the story of our whole lives, we’ll see (hopefully) small growth over time and the opportunity to see our current struggle not as a failure end of the day, but as a mini crisis that can result in more growth if we respond in faith and trust and if we don’t give up.
All stories must have bad things happen – struggles, temptations, difficulties, troubles – for there to be a story at all, for there to be a final resolution that satisfies our desire for happy endings. And God will bring about the final happy ending. We can rest in faith and hope when we remember that.