‘Effort and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.’ John F. Kennedy
The numerous holidays that close one year and launch another often become the catalyst for serious reflection on our current status and the future ahead. While this may be the time we search our souls for wisdom regarding the future, I believe that anytime during the year is a good time. I heartily encourage doing this at least once a year.
Recently I had the opportunity to answer the following question: How do I want to live? I knew immediately that there was some risk in answering this question. I might become aware of how I am actually living my life. And that answer may result in disappointment. I may get upset or feel challenged. But then, I may also discover hope and encouragement. Just maybe I will get motivated to do . . . . This time, it will be different. Have you ever said those words? I have. Perhaps not to another person, but in your own mind . . . ‘This time, it will be different. ‘
Here is a 10-minute exercise like the opportunity I was given; and I did follow through. Awareness – one of the most powerful life principles is a possible outcome.
Using paper, a 3 x 5 notecard, or a blank document in your computer, write your answer to this question: How do I want to live my life? Use broad, simple phrases, being sure to list at least 10 feasible areas. My response to this question, delineated below, is one example of how to do this. There is no wrong answer; just do what works for you.
Answer the following question.
How do I want to live my life?
Believe in myself
Believe in others
Do what I love
Make a difference
Follow a daily formula
Live with passion
Make your list now, and then continue reading for further instructions.
Review your list and then contemplate these questions:
- What areas of my life currently correspond with my answers?
- What areas have gaps?
- Using my personal strengths and attributes, how can I grow and improve in the strongest areas?
- How can I reduce the gap in areas where I need and want improvement?
- What one area do I want to focus on for the next six months?
- What benefits may be realized for me and others if I live my life how I want to live it?
Congratulations, if you completed the exercise. You have just completed the first step in the creation of a personal mission statement, which is an asset I strongly encourage everyone to have. It is a simple statement on your purpose . . . how you want to live your life. As stated above, this opportunity was given to me, and the person who gave this chance is . . .me. It is something I do at least once every year. Periodically, I review my mission statement and modify it when needed.
A personal mission statement should be challenging. It also should resonate with you. It should motivate you. I have had a purpose statement for over 40 years. I update it at least every few years and more often when my life demands it. It is a simple statement on how I want to live, and the difference has been phenomenal. It continues to challenge and help me to be my best.
After having lived with this type of document for so long, I have a few conclusions, including there is no wrong way to do this. It can be as short as a single sentence. Laurie Beth Jones, author and speaker, wrote a book titled, The Path, which suggests keeping it simple. She identifies the three most common questions in developing a mission statement, which are:
Who am I? Where am I going? How do I get there? Laurie Beth’s book is an excellent guide for those who want to reach deeper into this topic. I have a copy of her book on the shelf in my home office.
Most people have a general concept of how they want to live. Putting words on paper makes a huge difference. It encourages commitment. Reviewing every year allows for awareness of changes that have already occurred and what this may mean for our future. We continue to change, even if this is not what we desire. It is life. To be all that we want to be means we accept and embrace change. A mission statement is a work in progress. We never arrive at perfection. There is always more to do and more that we can become.
How are you living your life?
How do you want to live your life?
This time, it will be different.
It is different.
My personal mission in life is . . . .