A More Useful but Boring Personal Mission

One of my new daily reads, Lifehack.org, links helpfully to a paper on by Randall S. Hansen called Five Steps Plan For Creating A Personal Mission Statement. An excellent idea. In fact, I need to revisit mine.

My problem is with the 5-Step plan. Truth be told, I hate mission statements in their popular conception. Flowery words with little practical use, IMO. Hansen’s example Mission Statement, the product of his 5-step plan, reads like most I’ve seen:

“To live life completely, honestly, and compassionately, with a healthy dose of realism mixed with the imagination and dreams that all things are possible if one sets their mind to finding an answer.”

An admirable statment indeed. And I’m sure it’s a thousand percent better than it would have been if not for Mr. Hansen’s 5-step plan. But what do I do with that? I just hate that kind of mission statement in general.

But I do advocate being aware of one’s own “personal mission.” Yet I hate mission statements. What to do? Write down your personal mission without condensing it down to a statement.

A mission needs to answer the question about your purpose in life — given all of your identities, roles, and relationships, what is it your “job” to do? A good mission is present-oriented. It should guide your current life activities.

Instead of a mission statement, per se, I advocate a list of mission areas. This list of mission areas should be specific enough to plug right into whatever flavor of GTD you are using. Think of GTD’s current project list. If it is in your mission — if it is your job to do a particular thing — then there should be a project concerning it in your GTD project list. Your next actions should map straight to some part of your mission.

Be warned. My flavor of mission will not read well on plaques, flyers, or business cards. It is pretty darn boring reading and not particularly inspiring to anybody except for (hopefully) yourself. But you can use it as a defacto agenda for your own personal status meeting, as an organizing rubric for all of your current activities, as a cornerstone in your getting organized agenda.

So how do you create one of these things for yourself? Well, you first have to know the difference between a mission and a vision and you need to know my version of the five step plan. Both will be subjects of my next posts. But right now, other elements of my personal mission are calling me away from the blog.

(Man, I’ve been scrounging so long to find something that would inspire me to write here. Maybe I’ve found it. Maybe this is how my blog fits into my life? We’ll see. Another post as well.)

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