Begin with the End in Mind

By Rev. Elizabeth Thompson

“Excellence is the result of caring more than others think is wise, risking more than others think is safe, dreaming more than others think is practical, and expecting more than others think is possible.”—Anon

As I make choices, I seek to live from the simple principle, “Begin with the End in Mind.” I experiment daily with this notion in different areas of my life—some small and some large—and this approach has shifted the way I live life for the better. Consider the following example:

I began with a wildly improbable goal to visit the fresco of Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” in Milan, Italy.

Reservations are made months in advance if one is serious about viewing this masterpiece; I began the process months prior, but every tour was sold out for the few days that I would be in Milan. I was too late. However, there was one guide, Alice, who told me that if a cancellation came about she would let me know. Being a Southerner and a Unity minister, I made sure that my request was as engaging, respectful, and positive in every email we exchanged. Throughout the exchange, I  remembered to “Begin with the End in Mind.” My end was to see “The Last Supper” firsthand and Alice, without knowing it, became a part of my “experiment.”

Only 30 people at a time are allowed inside the climate-controlled gallery to view “The Last Supper” for 15 minutes.  The wall on which the Last Supper was created has survived time, wars, and  bombings  that leveled every wall in the church but this one. Thanks to the book by Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code, this masterpiece has become a must-see for almost every tourist visiting Italy. For those of a mystical bent, as I am, it becomes a quest.

The Three-Step Process

The first step to “Begin with the End in Mind” is to envision a desired outcome in as much detail as possible. Use every sense to explore the feel, sound, texture, smell, and emotion of a your desire outcome. As fulfillment becomes tangible to the senses, the Universe is carving out this reality for us in our physical world of.   In practice, any principle has a learning curve which includes two steps forward and one step back—a Cosmic Shuffle.

Here’s how it worked for me in this situation. In my mind I could see the masterpiece in detail, the expressions on the faces of the Disciples as they reacted to the startling declaration of the Master Jesus at the Last Supper: “One of you will betray me.” The dismay, shock, denial, deep sadness, and even the peaceful resignation of the Master, is displayed on each face.

At the same time, I also resigned myself to follow every lead to get a reservation. When Alice emailed me to join her for a morning coffee when I was in Italy—even though she was entirely booked for her trip—I met her “just in case.” (Two steps forward…) She had hinted that one of her clients might back out and I could step in. “Ahh, yes,” I thought, “the shifts are happening and room is being made for me.” Of course, I would do my part and show up for coffee and, of course, her client would cancel…

Except the client didn’t cancel. (…and one step back.) In her parting statement, however, I was given another clue that might gain me entrance. “Elizabeth,” she said, “by the way, each morning there are five tickets reserved for the day. They are sold at the discretion of the ticket clerk. You might try that.” With those words my deflated hope began to inflate again!

Now my quest became a MISSION FROM GOD, and I had received my SIGN. I made my way Santa Maria Della Grazie to verify this information. The first woman behind the counter dashed my hopes; for not only did she refuse to corroborate Alice’s statement, she shooed me away with a “Madame, I cannot help you; there are no tickets available.” Stubbornly, I moved to another counter and asked another volunteer. “Please can you tell me, is it true that there are five tickets available each day that are at the discretion of the ticket agent to sell? A tour guide shared this possibility with me.”

At this point I was close to tears. I must have appeared like a fanatic, but I was on a quest and I was determined to follow up on every possibility to achieve my desired “END.” The tears flowed when she said that I was correct. Up to this point, my quest felt like a wild goose chase, and yet the still small voice kept urging me forward: “It is possible—claim it.”

The second, most crucial step in this process is to feel the emotions as if the desire is a reality NOW. I saw and felt myself receiving the ticket, entering the climate-controlled space, and beholding “The Last Supper” in person. I was confident.

Step three is to simply allow. After the practice of seeing and feeling, we must allow the Creative Field to fill in the details. So I did my part and showed up bright and early by 7:30 am to be the first in line, but I was not early enough. Ten people were already waiting. But I didn’t panic; I let it all go. I asked who already had a ticket and, thankfully, all but four had tickets, including me. I then shared what I knew with those who did not have a ticket and invited them to assemble themselves in the order of their arriving time. I must have appeared liked the crazy, blond American, but they agreed anyway. A Japanese couple, an Australian man, and I stood front and center at the door, ready to take our place when the doors open. Open they did at 8:00 AM, and all of us were able to claim tickets for an appointed time, with mine at 11:00 am!

What did I do for three hours as I anticipated my viewing? Celebrated, prayed, gave thanks to all those who assisted me on my quest, including the sour ticket agent the day before. I even congratulated myself for staying the course with my grand experiment of “Begin with End in Mind.” Most importantly, I recognized the value of staying the course when the Cosmic Shuffle begins. It is a matter of Right Intention, Right Practice, Right Attitude, and Right repetition.

“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”—Lao Tzu

Reverend Elizabeth Thompson is the Sr. Minister of Unity of Sarasota. She has served the Unity Movement for over 30 years in all capacities. Her credo for living is to live life as a spiritual adventure through celebration and service. How is simple:  Be open and available to the enlightenment of the mind by engaging Divine Ideas. Let the heart be empowered through the practice of loving compassion beginning with yourself and extending out to all creation. Following these simple practices ensures a life of enrichment and meaning. This is how Rev Elizabeth seeks to participate in a world that works for all.  Visit

This article is a chapter from the book Transform Your Life! written by 60 real-life heroes and experts and available at,, and all ebook formats.


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