“Don’t ask kids what they want to be when they grow up but what problems they want to solve. This changes the conversation from who do I want to work for, to what do I need to learn to do that.” -Jaime Casap
I love this quote. There is much to be desired in our educational system, and this quote speaks volumes for me. I would bet anyone $1,000 that had I been asked this question as a child I could’ve explained the precise path that I have placed myself on today. But, like you probably, I was never asked this, only the question “what do I want to be when I grow up?” The only real answer to that question I ever had was “I just want to be me,” though I knew that’s not what was being asked.
In my last post, I wrote about listing all of your skills – any and all that you could possibly think of. Today, we’re going to formulate a mission statement.
A few years ago, I came across the idea of personal branding – like a company brand, but this is your own personal brand. We all market ourselves out onto the world in different ways. If we work for someone else we have to dress as what is acceptable to the company, even if it doesn’t resonate with who we are. (Which, if that’s true for you, you’re in the wrong business, fyi.) I rather find the idea of personal branding as impersonal and deceptive, as others would argue that even being true to yourself and not trying to brand yourself is branding. But the idea of branding is born from marketing which is specifically meant to lure customers. As beings in this world, however, we are only meant to be happy, which means being comfortable and authentic in our “presentation.”
I digress here, but when I speak of mission statements, it usually goes hand in hand with company branding and the seduction of the customer.
A personal mission statement though is specific to your desires, not to get others on board with you (but once you start being true to yourself, others will want to climb on board with you, believe me.)
Awhile back I found one of the best books to ever cross my path. It’s called The Path: Creating Your Mission Statement for Work and Life by Laurie Beth Jones. Even if you feel like it’s impersonal and demeaning to brand yourself as if you’re a nondescript company, defining your mission statement is actually one of the best things you could do for yourself if you’re feeling lost in life. Technically, I think, we all have known what we want to do with our lives since we were little kids. We come into this world with a knowledge of who we are and what our mission is but, along the way, sometimes earlier in life than others, we forget or get confused or derailed. For me, Artist was always first and foremost in my mind. Secondly, my spirituality was always important for me. And lastly, I always wanted to help others in some capacity, to heal and guide others. Putting it all together was furthest from my mind. In fact, most of us are so conditioned to compartmentalize everything in our lives that we don’t think about the possibility of integrating all of our loves into one “career” or path that we are meant to follow.
So, let’s get down to the nitty gritty…
The first thing to do when crafting a mission statement is to decide on some action verbs.
The above list may help to get you started. Jones has provided a more in-depth list in The Path or you can follow this link here for a more thorough one. Narrow your list down to three words that resonate with you. What three words inspire, motivate, give you that “Aha!” feeling that lights your soul on fire?
Next, what is it you value most? Use the list below or come up with your own. Be honest. Make sure it’s a value that you treasure above all others and not one others say is the most important.
Lastly, who do you wish to help? What kind of group or cause do you wish to help out?
As an example of piecing it all together, here was my chosen mission statement:
Mine is rather devoid of the ‘who’ as I wasn’t sure at the time of crafting this. I had envisioned myself for so long having an after-school art program for inner city kids but then I realized with this exercise, they weren’t quite my mission. The telling phrase in here is “one’s own navigational compass,” referring to those in need of guidance in finding their authentic voice. You’ll probably tweak it later on like I have, but this is a great tool for figuring out your path in life, or remembering it.
I highly recommend purchasing The Path as she also goes into crafting a vision statement, which will help you figure out how you want your life to look.
Hopefully, this exercise has helped you to get some focus in life, like it did me. Sometimes defining that which we are can help to align us on the right path again.
Have a blessed day and don’t forget to be awesome!