Where is Your Life Going? (Creating a Mission Statement You Love)

Forest road. Landscape.I believe in living a proactive, intentional, effective life.

Maybe it’s because my mom has always been one to make things happen, but I’ve never been one to sit around (for long) and wait for life to happen to me. Not that this is always a blessing (look out for an upcoming blog post on letting go of control and waiting), but I will say that I sleep better at night knowing I tried to influence a positive outcome, even if it doesn’t turn out the way I’d hoped.

One of the most fascinating things about being human is that we possess the ability to choose and influence the direction of our lives. The choices we make today determine choices we make tomorrow that determine our situations, circumstances, and quality of our lives. While this doesn’t always work out (bad things do happen), most of the time, positive choices yield positive consequences, and vice versa.

The saying is true that:

Whether you do or whether you don’t, either way, you choose. 

 

So it has been a practice of mine over the past few years to develop a yearly mission statement. Every year I spend some time processing the previous year, reviewing my mission statement, and updating it as needed.

Last year Clint and I adopted the practice as a family.

Every year on our anniversary, we review our previous year’s mission statement and evaluate each other individually. I evaluate him and he evaluates me. Then, we tweak our mission statement for the coming year.

Ideally, our memories are rich with examples of how we have lived our mission. Ideally, we hone in deeper, gain more clarity, and know more about what we really want out of life. And we have the experience from the previous year to know what to keep, what to throw out, and how to proceed.

The benefits of a family mission statement are:

  • Sense of purpose & direction
  • Easy decision making & clear focus
  • Accountability

 

Sense of purpose & direction. 

A person without purpose is a ship without a sail, drifting along the currents of life. Alternatively, think of times when an exciting goal lay out before you and you felt the joy and accomplishment of working towards this singular goal each and every day – maybe it is a race or competition, your wedding, your degree, a challenge, ______.

At the same time, most people I talk to can detail exactly what they don’t want in life, yet are blank when it comes to what they do want instead.

No wonder we never get there if we don’t know where we want to go! 

In our non-committal age, we don’t want to pick “one” thing because…

  • we don’t trust ourselves to pick the “right direction.”
  • we think there is one “right” direction
  • what if we picked the wrong thing? What am I missing out on by going in this direction???

We think we are missing out on something greater when we narrow our focus, yet the truth is the opposite! By choosing a direction, we can go somewhere, do something, and build something great instead of run in circles.

It doesn’t really matter what direction you pick, but only that you pick and start! Like my mentors say:

It’s easier to course-correct a moving ship than to overcome inertia to launch.

There is no wrong or right way to develop a mission statement, but only to start and take notes. The first year is always a baseline. There is constant flexibility, revisions, and changes. No worries!

Possessing purpose and direction:

  • reduces depressive and anxious feelings;
  • improves health, peace, and contentment;
  • improves quality of life

 

Easy decision making & clear focus.

I find the hardest decisions in life are between which good opportunity to pursue, not in saying no to a bad opportunity. This is one of the best things about a mission statement because crystal clear focus creates easy decision-making.

Does this opportunity align with my overall mission and values? If it’s not right on the money, save your time and energy for something else, because those opportunities WILL come along.

On the flip side, if you agree to every good opportunity that comes along, you won’t have the space in your schedule or sanity to accept an opportunity that best fits you and your family.

Easy examples of this are volunteer opportunities. Stewardship is one my family’s values and there are so many great ways to be of service, yet if presented with two opportunities simultaneously, like volunteering to feed homeless people or to teach a class on food preservation to people in generational poverty, then I will choose the latter since it aligns more closely with my values.

We all know people who say yes to everything, yet seem to go nowhere. Creating a mission statement everyone makes decision-making EASY, simple, and clear.

People who live in line with their mission and values are more satisfied with life, more content with their current circumstances, and less stressed. These are all positive things to bring into and promote within a family.

Accountability

Change doesn’t happen without some form of accountability. In love, a family mission statement keeps the family accountable to the changes we have all agreed upon making.

Clint has full permission to say, “That behavior doesn’t align with our values or mission,” to me if I get snarky or act in a way opposite to our values. I have the same permission. More than once, this simple phrase has stopped a complete knee-jerk reaction right in its tracks!

Since we have agreed on where we want to go and what we stand for, our behavior needs to align with those things to take us from point A to point B.

Is this instantly perfect? NO. It’s practice. Practice. Practice.

Practice being accountable. Practice doing things differently. Practice communicating.

And that’s the sometimes messy middle between the ideal and real life. Not that the ideal isn’t possible, but that many folks believe ideals aren’t possible because their current behavior could never reach those ideals. Behavior change is the most difficult piece to do and sustain, but it’s possible with (loving) accountability.

 

How to create a mission statement

Simply,

  1. Prep for the Work
  2. Create Your Mission
  3. Declare Your Values
  4. Review Often

There are a million ways to create a family mission statement, but I like Stephen Covey’s best. it’s simple, easy, and covers all bases

Before we get there, though, I spend the week prior reviewing the previous year’s mission statement. Every day, I review, think through, or write about something related to this process so that we will be primed and ready to do effective work when Clint and I come together on our anniversary.

TIP: Be in a physical space conducive to this work. What inspires you? Helps you think and get in flow? Outside? In a specific room? In the woods, beach, or on the river? With tea? I encourage you to create that space for your best work!

Some ideas include:

  • Reading the previous year’s mission statement & values out loud. If you don’t have one, read through a list of values, one-by-one, and write down the ones that resonate with you most.
  • Writing 10 highlights from the previous year & 10 low points. What values did each of these situations express or suppress? 
  • Write top experiences from periods in your life – childhood, teenage years, young adulthood, middle age. This will help you see what influences you most.
  • If $ and responsibilities were no issue, what would you do? Where would you go? How would you spend your time?
  • What do you most appreciate about your spouse? Your children?
  • What initiatives, causes, and news stories most resonate with you?

 

Exercises like the ones mentioned about give some really great data and frame of mind to effectively plan and create a co-authored family mission statement with your spouse and children (if you have them!).

Then, going through Covey’s software allows for discussion and creation. It’s important that discussion and communication lines are open throughout this process. There is no ownership without personal investment and this is where the mission statement gets fun.

Articulating one’s ideas, thoughts, and beliefs in a safe environment is essential to creating a cohesive, synergistic statement about which everyone is EXCITED.

If you don’t wish to use Covey’s program, draw three concentric circles on a piece of paper. In each circle, write a what, a what, and a who. What is most important to you? Health, vitality, service, achievement, sharing, etc.? Fill in two whats. And then Who do these whats best serve? Who tugs your heart strings? Those folks are who the whats are directed towards.

Follow?

Finally, declaring up to 10 values that your family will stand for is an important way to end the day. What do you want your family to be about? Who do you want to be as a family? Make sure everyone inputs ideas and discuss why these are important.

TIP: Some people like to make an artistic canvas of their values to put in a common area everyone sees daily. This is a great idea! Involving as many of the senses as possible increases the likelihood of lasting and sustained change.

 

In summary, creating a family mission statement is an important part of our healthy lifestyle. It gives us purpose, direction, clarity in decision-making, and accountability. Knowing you are building something solid – together – provides an indescribable peace and contentment. The process and journey is more important than perfection, so the effort itself of thinking through what is important and what this family will stand for is enough in and of itself. Year by year, use your previous year to calibrate your direction! 

 

Do you or your family have a mission statement? Care to share? Leave a comment in the section below sharing the biggest takeaway you experienced from reading this post.

 

Can’t wait to read ’em! 🙂

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Gerilyn Burnett helps women achieve the body, energy, and impact they desire by implementing healthy lifestyles they love! She specializes in helping Christian women cultivate health to the glory of God. Her own journey from miserable, fat, stuck, and tired to fit, confident, vibrant, and delicious make her uniquely suited for this mission! She has a knack for creating contagious healthy experiences and providing the needed support and accountability that turn diets into lifestyles and dreams into realities. Get started on your journey to vibrant vitality for life here.

– See more at: http://www.gerilynburnett.com/5-life-lessons-learned-this-summer/#sthash.DHKHQbIQ.dpuf

 

 

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