Do you live your life as if you are on a mission?
My mission is defined in my personal mission statement. I wrote it in order to articulate the way I believe I ought to live my life. A great life isn’t going to just happen to me. I need to be deliberate, intentional, and purposeful in how I go about it and my mission statement outlines how I can do that.
There’s a long and a short version. The short mission statement reads: I will remember in all things that I do, that I want to guide my life and my decisions with these qualities that I value most: kindness, honesty, creativity, and fearlessness.
Those values have specific meaning to me personally. Take honesty. I don’t just mean that I’ll be honest with people I deal with but also that I’ll be honest with myself and live authentically. Creativity doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ll make cute crafts all the time, but that I’ll be open to new ideas, decorate my personal space according to my personality, buy cute shoes, read a variety of books, travel, break some rules.
I do try to live my life by my mission statement. Take fearlessness, for example. I want to be fearless in all that I do but fear is an obstacle for me and often makes me hesitate or second guess my decisions. Knowing fear can hold me back, I’ve learned to acknowledge it and take steps to overcome it in order to be fearless. One little reminder I use is a decorated note card that tells me, in a funny way, to be fearless. It reads: dear shannon: if there are parts of you that are afraid . . . hug that fear, kiss it, tell it thank you and that it can be on its way now . . . you don’t need it anymore.
During tough situations, I used to put this notecard where I could read it until I believed it!
Basically, a mission statement can help you get clear on how you want to live (that How can be your mission) and there are plenty of different ways to go about writing one. This is my method:
- Sit with yourself without distraction. Get serious and honest with yourself or you’ll be, as my friend Daisy says, just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
- Identify people you admire—really admire—whether they’re dead or alive. What is it about them that you don’t just like, but consider valuable that you would like to emulate? Pick a few who are really meaningful to you. Saying you’re going to live your life according to those values you admire can be the short version of your mission statement.
- With those values in mind, continue writing the long version of your personal mission statement. Ask yourself, and answer, questions like these:
- What situations and relationships make you the happiest?
- When are you most at peace?
- When are you least confident and what situations challenge you?
- Ask yourself, and answer, tough, important questions about:
- your health
- your soul
- your work
- your relationships
- your capabilities and shortcomings
- other things that are important to you, and
- what type of life you want. This involves not only identifying your core beliefs and values but also your core desired feelings. How do you want to feel in any given situation in your life?
- Reflecting on the questions will help you articulate, for example, the situations when you’re most at peace in your personal and work life. You can then seek those situations out the same way you try to avoid situations when you are not. The same goes for your health, your relationships, etc.
- State what you want to do and express your desires in positive terms—not what you don’t want but what you do. Find positive alternatives to negative statements and use “I will” and “I know” statements. An example from mine: I will take care of my body and soul in ways that are important to me, including: eating healthy foods, getting enough rest, and creating time to regularly exercise—even if it is just walking, but especially yoga.
- Make your mission statement look good and put it where you can reference it frequently. Adjust it as you evolve. I feel differently about some things now than when I wrote mine. It’s time to sit down with myself again, without distractions, and get serious and honest with myself. See #1 above.
Remember, this is your mission statement. It should infuse you with energy, be compelling when you reference it, and and inspire you to be the best version of yourself.
Own it. Love it. Live it.
Do you have a personal mission statement or something similar? I’d love to learn how you wrote yours or what you use instead of a mission statement.
Shannon maintains her own blog with her daughter, Brittan. Called Salt Lick Lessons, the site provides fun and helpful resources, tools, stories and ideas of all kinds.