Do you have a defining purpose to your life? Does it motivate you to enthusiastically get out of bed each morning looking forward to the day’s activities? When your time on earth is just about done will you feel your life was worthwhile because you pursued this mission?
One of the great aspects of the military is that no matter what our rate or rank we begin our service by dedicating ourselves to a mission: To support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic . . . This statement gives purpose to everything we do. When we experience the searing heat on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea during combat ops or have to de-ice that same flight deck to conduct humanitarian assistance operations in the northern reaches of Japan, we have a reason to endure the harsh weather and the punishingly long hours.
Why Will You Do What You Do?
So too in your life and business, you need to have a mission. Non-profit organizations learned this long ago because they have to motivate their workers, especially volunteers, to commit to a purpose and devote time and money to its fulfillment. The United Way provides a good example.
For-profit businesses can reap tremendous benefits from the same clarity of purpose. The mission statement for my company is: to help veterans secure a share of the American dream they fought to preserve.
Notice that this is not a goal per se. While it is written down, there is no objective to reach or time limit by which it is to be reached. Once you have a mission for your life and/or business, it becomes the litmus test by which you decide whether a particular activity or goal is relevant and purposeful.
A mission statement should be an expression of your most important values because if the two are in conflict you will be working at cross-purposes. Yet, if you are unclear about your morals it may be difficult to create a compelling mission statement.
5 Steps to a Personal, Business, or Family Mission Statement
Here are the steps for writing a mission statement:
1. Make a list of your five most deeply held values
Be careful not to mistake political positions for values. Look at why you have a particular political belief to determine the values the underlie it. If you need some help getting started check out this list.
2. Write down your elevator pitch
This is a brief explanation of what you want to do with your life or what your business is and does. So called because you can deliver it in the length of an elevator ride. Harvard Business School has a website to help you build one.
3. Use your values to describe WHY your business does what it does
Write a paragraph with each sentence addressing how one of your values relates to your life or business. For example, if you are starting a plumbing company and one of your values is being thrifty, one sentence of your paragraph might be about providing the highest level of service at the lowest price.
4. Edit your paragraph to one or two sentences
Work on combining the essential idea of one sentence with that of another. Sometimes a single word can replace an entire sentence. For example, in my mission statement the value of “taking care of G-d’s children, especially my fellow service members” is expressed with one word: help.
5. Let it sit overnight then edit it
Once you have written your mission statement put it away until the next day then review it. Edit ruthlessly. Say it out loud. If it does not flow well keep working on it. Try using a thesaurus to find variations of words that express your thoughts more accurately. If you get stuck, set it aside overnight again. You may have to do this several times before you develop a compelling mission statement.
When you have completed your mission statement read it periodically, every morning before you begin work, or each evening when you plan your next day’s schedule. Even when you have it memorized, refer to it in written form. Its impact is greater.
Where are you stuck figuring out your personal and business mission?
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© , Kevin S. Bemel, All Rights Reserved
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