During the winter of 1986, I attended a personal transformation program called The Wall in a remote forest campground near Seattle. That experience changed my life.
Two dozen inner-explorers gathered for deep discussion and reflection, then each crafted their life mission statement. Later I had mine engraved onto a bronze plaque that hung on my office wall for years until I moved.
Recently, while sorting through boxes of personal belongings in storage, I found that forgotten-about plaque. A wave of powerful emotions rippled through me as I reconnected with those deeply felt and carefully chosen words. Before sharing the profound insights that emerged, let’s turn the conversation toward yourmission statements.
Do you have a written credo, mission, identify or life purpose statement? (They are all essentially the same thing). Can you readily recite yours?
If not, you are not alone. Mission statements are not a must to live a meaningful life. But those who invest the time to create one gain a powerful tool to purposefully design their life, not just live it.
Twice each year I teach a personal reinvention workshop for working professionals at the UCLA Extension Technical Management Program. To my surprise, very few of these smart and motivated men and women have their own written personal mission statement. Some never thought about it, other didn’t know how to do it, a few were rebels whose mission was to “not have a mission.” For a long time I also resisted crafting my own because of the false concerned that doing so would “lock me in.” It took me years to appreciate the strategic power that mission statements offer to those who choose to make a difference in their life, not just make it through.
Many folks have one rumbling around inside that has never been invited out to play. If that describes you, or if yours deserves an upgrade, now is the perfect time.
There are many different approaches and formats to crafting your mission. Yours can be as simple as “to live the best life that I can.” Keep it in mind that their purpose is not to impress others, but to inspire and guide you. If your statement is not grand and eloquent, but it resonates with you, voila!
So give yourself the ultimate gift this season. Here are two simple steps for creating or sparking up your statements.
Step 1: Construct statements that express the purpose of your life.
You can develop a single, all-encompassing mission statement, or multiple statements that cover the various roles in your life (as a parent, professional, partner, wild-eyed visionary, etc.) Slice and dice yours however you wish. Some simple examples, from my participants:
- my life purpose is to live fully and be missed when I’m gone
- the purpose of my life is to build security for my family and contribute to my organization success.
- my life is about loving and doing my part to make the world better
- I’m a kick-butt entrepreneur whose destiny is to create apps that transform people’s lives and make money too
Some tips: Choose words that energize, spark, or inspire you. Consider action verbs like transform, invent, improve, expand, reinvent, amplify, and contribute to anchor your sentences.
Don’t confuse mission statements with goals. Goals can be accomplished and checked off while a well written mission statement transcends goals.
Substitute simple for complex words. Tinker with the language, so the words come flow off your tongue smoothly.
Step 2. Internalize to make it real
The next step is to internalize your statement so that the words translate into feelings that resonate internally and become part of your core identity. Repetition with emotion is the key to making it come alive in your mind and heart.
There are lots of ways to “install” this into your nervous system. Print out and post on your bathroom mirror, and recite it with feeling each morning. Use it as your screen saver. The more you remind yourself, the more you begin to own and act consistent with it.
Integrating physical movement while reciting deepens the connection. Can you dance it? Sing it? Do the Ali shuffle? Can you chant it like a mantra while jogging?
I hope you are convinced to invest some time in creating or updating your mission statement. It will be the best gift you receive all season, and like presents you receive from others, yours will fit.
Sharing My Mission
Yesterday, twenty-nine years after the Wall, as I dusted off and read that old plaque, those deeply engraved words felt comfortable as a favorite old pair of jeans that still fit perfectly. I realized that if you take the time to put in words a mission that springs from your core values, it will last a life time.
I’ve never shared that statement beyond the small workshop group and with family members. So for you, my trusted readers, here is mine. I also encourage you to share yours in the comments.
“To begin each day refreshed, and totally committed to winning and to helping others do the same;
“To achieve bold results in the worlds around me that will make a difference in the grander scheme of things;
“To complete all my work, both the humble and the mighty, with quality, efficiency, integrity, and pride;
“To develop all my systems, the physical, mental, social spiritual, so that mind and muscle, head and heart, spirit and soul work together in harmony;
“To empower others to perform, by my own example, by being open, honest, and supportive;
“To build prosperity and richness in all dimensions of my life, by proper use of my time, money, energy, and ideas;
“To close each day in quiet contemplation in which I love, forgive, celebrate, and praise myself, my friends, my family, and my God.