30 Minute Solutions to “Begin with the End in Mind”

 I’m so glad I’m the age I am because I have the gift of hindsight. Hindsight is where wisdom is borne. I’ve lived through every circumstance I never thought I could, and yet here I stand, ready for the second act of my life.

Here’s a list of things I thought I couldn’t do:
  • Survive unimaginable loss
  • Heal my heart after divorce
  • Start a new career after 50
  • Raise my kids on my own
  • Find true love again
By the year 2002, I was pretty much at the depths of despair, having tragically lost my 16 year old son a few years before, and my 25 year marriage had faltered in grief. We divorced and just a few short years later my husband unexpectedly died at the age of 54.

I remember waking up one morning with the realization that everything I thought I knew was gone, and the second act of my life was just about to emerge. I was scared to death.

I’d been a mom the majority of my life! Now, I was forced to figure out how to support myself and my three children. I was tormented by the little voice of doubt inside my head: “You’re not good enough, pretty enough, or smart enough… and you’re 50.

card courtesy of Curly Girl Designs
I happened to pick up Steven Covey’s book at just the right time… funny how that happens. In “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” he says, “begin with the end in mind.”

It's a startling thought for a woman in chaos who once thought she had a fairy tale life. If I had decided to listen to the voice of doubt, I would have had absolutely no hope of living happily ever after.

I began researching how to refuel a life that had run out of gas. I decided to look at myself with a child's heart. Who are the happiest people on the planet? Children. They live every day with expectation and a sense of wonder and belief in a magical world. If they put on a cape they could become powerful and mighty. If they put on a crown, they could become a king or a queen. Children believe without a doubt, they are in command of their imaginary destiny.

I remember clearly being a little girl who woke up every day with anticipation and desire to create wondrous things. I would spend hours lying on a bed of green clover looking for the one with four leaves that would bring me good luck. And I always did. Every December, I fully trusted that Santa would come at Christmas no matter what. And he did. I spent hours farming tadpoles from the river nearby, counting on them turning into frogs one day… and they always did.

Little me with Santa
I didn’t realize then, I chose to begin every day with the end in mind. If I could create a beautiful life and career for my Barbie doll then, I could darn well do it for myself now.

My “child’s mind” was actually the creator of my life. Somewhere along the way, we become adults and lose confidence in our ability to achieve the life we want.

So here I was at 50 thinking... do I still have the ability to create? Once I began playing with this idea of "beginning with the end in mind," I was able to start turning my game around.

“Game” is defined in the dictionary as “a period of play ending in a definite result.” The definite result I wanted was happiness. However, happiness isn’t an actionable step, it’s a bi-product of a meaningful and fulfilling life. I had work to do and I wasn’t going to stop until I’d reclaimed the direction for my life.

I know life is always a work in progress and I still have so much learn. Just like a game, there are obstacles and challenges that come your way, but learning to navigate “with the end in mind” is the key to your inner game.

I believe so much in the importance of doing these steps and how it can literally change your life, I've created a free worksheet for you to get started. Feel free to continue reading and then come back for your worksheet by filling out this form.

Here are 30 minute solutions you might consider for your game of life:

1. Begin with the end in mind. Spend 30 minutes writing down what the end of your life might look like if you stayed exactly where you are right now. Then, rewrite the negatives and turn them into a happy ending. For example, I wanted to write a book to help parents like me who had lost a child. In my old belief system, I would have been wishing I’d written the book at the end of my life. Instead, I rewrote my “ending” and committed to writing my book! “How to Survive the Worst that can Happen” was published in February 2014.

2. Stop being the victim of your story. Everyone on the planet has a story that will surprise you. The more I work with people to help them with life after loss, the more I recognize that loss is the one human common denominator. Society acknowledges those who grieve the loss of a loved one, but there are over 40 other types of losses that deeply affect us emotionally like, divorce, job loss, moving, financial devastation, a beloved pet or loss of health.

Spend 15 minutes listing your losses. Then spend the next 15 minutes with someone who will listen to you read your list. It’s important to hear yourself verbalize it. Bringing light to loss begins the healing process. Visit SandyPeckinpah.com to find out more about healing from loss.

3. Begin doing things you’ve always wanted to do. Start a workout program and do it for 30 minutes every day. Begin writing your book by sitting down to write 30 minutes every day. Always wanted to paint? Buy paints and canvases and paint for 30 minutes every day.

4. Never take a single day for granted. Spend 30 minutes every day in gratitude. That means in prayer, mediation, a walk in the park, time with your child, or snuggling with your husband. (Of course you don’t have to stop at 30 minutes!)

As a little girl,
Dad was the center of my universe
5. Leave nothing wonderful unsaid to those you love. Spend 30 minutes telling the people in your life what you love about them. I got on the phone with my Dad last week and shared my happiest memories. I told him I loved his sense of adventure when we traveled across the country (which we did often because I was a Navy child). I thanked him and my mom for always bringing enchantment to Christmas. I shared how proud I was the day my young son and I attended the ceremony as he took command of Treasure Island in San Francisco. This conversation meant the world to me. I'm having that conversation with my beautiful mom next.

Now, about that last step, “leave nothing wonderful unsaid to those you love,” it’s the most important step you can take in beginning with the end in mind. Research shows that people’s biggest regrets at the end of their lives are the things they didn’t say to those they loved.

Walking down the aisle with my dad,
Rear Admiral Donald S. Albright Jr.
 on my wedding day 10-1-11
Just in that one step I discovered the essential key to a happy life… love is the greatest game changer of all. When we express love frequently and before it’s too late, it bounces back to scoring a happy life.

Oh and one more thing I need to say to my Dad… Never was I more proud than when you walked me down the aisle 3 years ago to marry the man I love. That memory is the one that still makes me cry.

Best wishes,

For a printable PDF version of this blog post Click Here.  

Sandy Peckinpah writes and speaks on finding happiness, surviving loss and activating resilience. Her new award winning book entitled, "How to Survive the Worst that Can Happen" is a parent's step by step guide for healing after the loss of a child, based on her own experience of losing her 16 year old son. She is a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist® with the Grief Recovery Institute® in Los Angeles. 

Visit my website and sign in to download my FREE ebook, Stepping Stones to a Resilient Life


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