Last week, I posed the question of whether you were becoming a fool by trying to learn too much. Seemed pretty random, right? Maybe on the surface, but if you really dig down, it fits nicely with our discussion on why you’ll never be happy.
You see, it’s my belief that inactivity, not simple circumstance, plays the largest role in our unhappiness. Why? Well, as long as we’re sitting around, not putting any of our plans or dreams into action, we realize that we’re continuing to allow our happiness to be ruled by outside forces.
As long as we aren’t in firm control of our happiness, or our lives, we’ll never reach our full potential for joy.
And that sucks.
Now, some among us can bounce through life with no particular plan and be happy. I envy those people. I’m a planner at heart. Sure, I have my dreams, but I’ve never believed dreams without a plan were attainable – at least, not for me.
This is why we need a mission statement for our lives, something we can look to when we have a bad case of the blahs, to help us vanquish the Negativity Beast and lead us back to the path to our goals.
What is a mission statement?
If you’ve spent any time working in Corporate America, you know that most businesses have a mission statement. It can be a few words, but the majority of businesses seem to like lengthy paragraphs of text about shareholders and the community and blah blah blah. Here are a few shorter examples:
“To provide the fast food customer food that is prepared in the same high-quality manner world-wide that is tasty, reasonably priced and delivered consistently in a low-key decor and friendly atmosphere.” ~McDonalds
This next company uses a mission statement that doubles as an advertising slogan.
“We save people money so they can live better.” ~Wal-Mart
I spent a lot of years working for this next company, so I’ll hold my commentary and just give you the statement.
“Our product: SERVICE. Our value-added: FINANCIAL ADVICE. Our competitive advantage: OUR PEOPLE.” ~Wells Fargo
In essence, a mission statement is little more than a statement of purpose, a statement of what the company is trying to accomplish. Sometimes, mission statements are more geared towards customers. Other times, they’re meant to energize the employees.
Either way, you can use a mission statement in your life.
Why you need a personal mission statement
You may be looking at the above corporate mission statement examples and wondering how any of that applies to your life. I mean, even though you may have a business or work for a business with a mission statement, you don’t necessarily eat, sleep and breathe work. (I hope!) Turning you into a lean, mean working machine isn’t exactly the goal we’re shooting for here. Instead, we’re latching onto the part of the mission statement that sets the boundaries for a company and casts the vision for everyone interested in it.
In your life, you probably won’t worry about saving people money, giving financial advice or providing low-key dining…but you can learn from those aspects. For example, McDonalds states that it’s in the business of providing tasty food. That draws a clear boundary so you know you won’t find McDonalds in the business of refining petrochemicals or mowing lawns. When you think of McDonalds, you understand what you’re getting: tasty food.
Can you say the same of your life? Do people know what they’re getting when they think of you?
By creating and then living a mission statement for your life, people will understand what you’re all about. More importantly, you will understand what you’re all about.
Where you can find the components of your personal mission statement
Okay, enough with the corporate mission statement analysis. Let’s talk about what goes into a personal mission statement. It’s similar, yet not the same.
In general, you may wish to include:
- Critical life goals
- People affected by your goals (aka family)
- Personally-held beliefs or ideals
- Ways by which you’ll achieve your goals.
Honestly, this is your life, so your personal mission statement can be anything you desire it to be. If you’re running low on inspiration, consider looking at your life as it currently is and your life as you wish it were. In each, you may find behaviors or dreams worth including in your personal mission statement.
I just realized ‘personal mission statement’ is ‘PMS.’ Not quite my intention…
How to construct your personal mission statement
The actual construction of your personal mission statement can be tricky. To simplify things, don’t think of it as something that must be as catchy or concise as the above mission statements. Those are to attract shareholders. When it comes to your life, you are the most important shareholder, so you only have to write the mission statement for yourself.
Personally, I like to wrestle with my words until I’m left with a pithy little statement, but that’s just my style. If you need a full paragraph to fully express the vision and mission for your life, write it. Granted, it might be going overboard to have a personal mission statement spanning pages unless you just really like bullet points and sub-bullets.
So, having said that, here’s the (very) rough draft of my personal mission statement:
To make full use of my time towards the pursuit of caring, creativity and compassion, in a manner that is authentic and trustworthy, while striving to nurture the important relationships in my life.
It needs some work, I know that, but it’s the bare bones of the personal mission statement for my life. What will you include in yours? How will you let your personal mission statement help you reach your dreams?
- Cloudy Sky – Mark_Chan03 via Flickr
- Strategy 18 – dipfan via Flickr
© 2011, Jen Whitten. All rights reserved. Using content from The Positive Piper without permission will cause the Negativity Beast to attack. BEWARE!