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Start at the End: How Your Outcome Affects Your Productivity



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Most sage wisdom from the ages will tell you some variation on this:

Start at the beginning.

There’s nothing really wrong with that advice. There’s some truth to the notion that when you feel overwhelmed, or reluctant to start, thinking of the smallest “first step” you can take will help get you over the hump and on your way.

That’s not bad advice.

But I’m gonna let you in on a little secret:

If you want to increase your motivation and your self-discipline, start at the end. 

In other words? Begin with the end in mind.

Credit Where It’s Due:  This is one of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

How to Start at the End to Increase Productivity

It’s super-easy to implement this strategy right now. Here’s how it works:

  1. Before you start on any task, pause and ask yourself: “What’s my desired outcome here?”
  2. Figure out the answer to that question and state it to yourself, or write it down on a scratch pad.
  3. Begin.

That’s it. Three simple steps. Takes less than a minute.

A Few Examples

In my experience, this strategy is best employed in three specific scenarios:

  1. When you’re getting ready to deal or communicate with other people, especially when the conversation might be a bit awkward, heated, or conflict-oriented
  2. When you’re about to start a chunk of creative work on a project or goal
  3. When you’re doing work that you innately resist or feel less-than-motivated to do

Here are some examples of each of those categories, and how beginning with the end in mind can help you get better results in each.

Touchy Interpersonal Communications

Let’s say you need to email a response to a client who thinks you should be providing additional work on a project for no extra compensation.

Asking yourself “What do I want to happen here when this email is received and read?” can help you choose and carefully craft the tone of the email. You’d probably use very different language if this is a client you really want to keep versus one who has been making unreasonable demands all along and generally been a nightmare to work with.

It also helps you center yourself emotionally, and thus restrict the substance of your email to just those points that are relevant.

That will in turn help prevent “dumping syndrome” – where you and the person you’re squabbling with end up bringing all kinds of past crap into the current debate and things inevitably go completely off the rails. In the business context, dumping all over each other will only waste your time and your client’s as well.

Creative Projects

Thinking about the potential finished product — in whatever form or medium you’re working with – will help you dive in and achieve a Zen-like state of focus: what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi called “flow.”

Flow is that ideal state of über-productivity, where you’re completely absorbed in what you’re doing, with zero peripheral thoughts or distractions entering your consciousness or awareness. It’s highly conducive to greater creativity.

And the simple act of articulating your desired outcome before you begin will help you get there more quickly.

Tasks You’re Resisting

Beginning with the end in mind is particularly helpful when you’re staring down a dreaded task, something you don’t want to do, something that you’re obligated to do.

Tasks like that are hard to get started. Taking that initial step is absolutely challenging.

But taking a moment to think “What’s my preferred outcome here? Why am I doing this?” can literally give you a reason to move forward.

Especially powerful? Taking it one step further and figuring out what goal you’re furthering with this task – even if the goal is one of those “well, duh” goals that you haven’t even bothered to write down. Things like “raising healthy, confident kids.” Or “keeping my business going.” Or “ensuring my good reputation in my field.”

You might have to get a little creative with your answer. It might not be a direct link from task to goal, but if you can figure out how the two are connected, you’ve got instant motivation to get it done.

And if there truly is no connection? Then you’ve got a different problem, and should spend some time figuring out just how and why you obligated yourself to do it in the first place. Then resolve to not let items like that back on your to-do list in the future.

Bottom Line: Implementing Outcome-Based Productivity

For one full day, take a moment before you do any task, and ask “why am I doing this? What’s my preferred outcome?”

Seriously. ANY task. Even brushing your teeth.

Yes, it will add thirty seconds per action to your day. No, I’m not recommending you do this always. But it is a great way to begin conditioning yourself to think this way, and I’m betting that, by the end of the day, you’ll be experiencing a significantly more positive frame of mind and greater personal efficiency.

Do you already use this strategy? What’s your experience with it? Share your story in the comments!

Veronika Michaud: Winner of YunoJuno's 'Freelancer of the Year' 2020. Creative and strategic copywriter and content marketer, trusted by mid and big brands to tell stories and deliver compelling content across a multitude of mediums. Occasional contributor for Elinext.

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The Imbalanced Problem with Work/Life Balance

Balancing is for your checkbook, gymnastics, and nutrition; not for your people’s work/life ratio.



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Balance…it requires an equal distribution of value between two or more subjects to maintain steady composure and equitable proportionality. (more…)

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How to Find the Courage to Start New

Change is scary, but it’s a normal part of life.



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It’s 2023, a new year, new you, right? But how do we start over? How do we make the changes in our lives that we crave so much to see?  (more…)

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Failing is More Important Than Succeeding

Failure is an integral part of life as life is incomplete without failures.



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People often consider failure a stigma.  Society often doesn’t respect the people who failed and avoids and criticizes their actions. Failure is an integral part of life as life is incomplete without failures. Not to have endeavored is worse than failing in life as at some stage of your life you regret not having tried in your life.  (more…)

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5 Indicators of Unresolved Attachment Trauma



Emotional Attachment Trauma

Trauma caused during specific stages of a child’s development, known as attachment trauma, can have lasting effects on a person’s sense of safety, security, predictability, and trust. This type of trauma is often the result of abuse, neglect, or inconsistent care from a primary caregiver.

Individuals who have not fully processed attachment trauma may display similar patterns of behavior and physical or psychological symptoms that negatively impact their adult lives, including the choices they make in relationships and business.

Unfortunately, many people may not even be aware that they are struggling with trauma. Research estimates that 6% of the population will experience PTSD in their lifetime, with a majority of males and females having experienced significant trauma.

Unresolved attachment trauma can significantly impair the overall quality of a person’s life, including their ability to form healthy relationships and make positive choices for themselves. One well-known effect of unhealed attachment trauma is the compulsion to repeat past wounds by unconsciously selecting romantic partners who trigger their developmental trauma.

However, there are other less recognized but equally detrimental signs of unprocessed developmental trauma.


Five possible indications of unresolved attachment trauma are:


1.  Unconscious Sabotage

Self-sabotage is a common pattern among individuals with unprocessed attachment trauma. This cycle often begins with hurting others, which is then followed by hurting oneself. It is also common for those with attachment trauma to have heightened emotional sensitivity, which can trigger this cycle.

This pattern can manifest in lashing out, shutting down, or impulsive behavior that leads to feelings of guilt, shame, and self-loathing.

Many people with attachment trauma are not aware of their wounds and operate on survival mode, unconsciously testing or challenging the emotional investment of those around them, and pushing them away out of self-preservation and fear of abandonment.

This can lead to a pattern of making poor choices for themselves based on impulsivity.


2. Persistent Pain

Chronic pain is a common symptom that can stem from early trauma. Studies have shown a connection between physical conditions such as fibromyalgia, headaches, gastrointestinal issues, insomnia, muscle aches, back pain, chest pain, and chronic fatigue with the aftermath of chronic developmental trauma, particularly physical abuse.
Research has found that individuals with insecure attachment styles, such as anxious, avoidant, or disorganized, have a higher incidence of somatic symptoms and a history of physical and emotional abuse in childhood compared to those with a secure attachment style.

3. Behaviors That Block Out Trauma

Trauma blocking practises are used to avoid the pain and memories connected with traumatic events.
Emotional numbing, avoidance, and escape via briefly pleasurable activities that distract from terrible memories or suffering are common examples. Unfortunately, this escape habit stops people from successfully processing and recovering from their trauma.
Furthermore, when the pain resurfaces, more and more diversions are necessary to continue ignoring it. This can be seen in compulsive behaviours such as drug or alcohol addiction, emotional eating, numbing oneself through relationships, workaholism, excessive or dangerous exercise routines, compulsive internet or technology use, or any other compulsive behaviour used to distract yoursef from intrusive thoughts and emotions.
These actions have the potential to prolong a cycle of avoidance and repression, preventing persons from healing and progressing.

4. A strong need for control

It’s understandable that some people may struggle with control issues in their adult lives, especially if they felt helpless or vulnerable during their childhood.
This can happen if someone had an overbearing caregiver who didn’t let them make their own choices, expected too much from them, or didn’t take care of them properly. As adults, they might try to control everything in their life to feel more in control and less anxious or scared. This might be because they didn’t feel like they had control over their life when they were a child.
It’s important to remember that everyone’s experiences are different and it’s okay to seek help if you’re struggling with control issues.

5. Psychological Symptoms That Are Not Explained

Individuals with a history of developmental trauma may experience a range of psychological symptoms, including obsessive-compulsive behavior, intense mood swings, irritability, anger, depression, emotional numbing, or severe anxiety.
These symptoms can vary in intensity and may occur intermittently throughout the day. People with this type of trauma may attempt to “distract” themselves from these symptoms by denying or rationalizing them, or may resort to substance abuse or behavioral addictions as coping mechanisms. This can be a maladaptive way of trying to numb their symptoms.

What to do next if you’re suffering from emotional attachment trauma?

Everyone’s experience of healing from trauma is unique. It’s important to be aware of whether you have experienced childhood developmental trauma and how it may be affecting your relationships as an adult. Sometimes, the effects of trauma can be overwhelming and we may try to push them away or avoid them.
If you notice that you’re engaging in these behaviors, it’s important to seek help from a trauma therapist who can support you on your healing journey. Remember, you’re not alone and it’s never too late to start healing.

There are several ways that people can work to overcome emotional attachment trauma:

  1. Therapy: One of the most effective ways to overcome emotional attachment trauma is through therapy. A therapist can help you process your experiences, understand the impact of your trauma on your life, and develop coping strategies to manage symptoms.
  2. Support groups: Joining a support group of people who have had similar experiences can be a great way to find validation, empathy, and a sense of community.
  3. Mindfulness practices: Mindfulness practices such as meditation, pilates, prayer time with God or journaling can help you become more aware of your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations, and develop a sense of spiritual connection and self-regulation.
  4. Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (TF-CBT): This is a type of therapy that is specifically designed to help individuals process and recover from traumatic events.
  5. Building a safety net: Building a support system of people you trust, who are there for you when you need them, can help you feel more secure and safe in your life.

It’s important to remember that healing from emotional attachment trauma is a process and it may take time. It’s also important to find a therapist who is experienced in treating trauma, who you feel comfortable talking with, and who can help you develop a personalized treatment plan.

If you desire to work with me on healing your wounds and unlocking the aspects of you that were never realized so you can achieve more success in your life then head over to and join my weekly LIVE online mentorship calls.
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