So, do you have a mission statement?
Oh, I don’t mean where you work. I mean your own personal mission statement. It’s a kind of credo or motto about your life – what you hope to accomplish and a plan to reach it.
Twenty years ago, I wrote in this space about the subject. At the time, I’d read that we should each have our own individual mission statement. It would become the ground-zero of all our decisions – the benchmark that measures whether we should marry this person or that, attend this college or that, or accept this job or that.
The idea is that a mission statement takes some of the guesswork out of decision-making. Simply put: If a particular choice doesn’t get you where you want to go, it’s nixed – a much more methodical approach than good old-fashioned, syrupy emotion or gut instinct.
I know, this flies in the face of spontaneity and impulsiveness – and just plain fun. But look at the hassles we’d avoid if we decided early on what on earth we were doing here on Earth. We’d save ourselves the trouble of miserable marriages and jobs we hate, poor financial decisions and living beyond our means.
Of course, mission statements are all the rage in the workplace and other organizations. For example, Cody Regional Health’s mission is “to provide extraordinary healthcare to those we serve by people who care.” The Bureau of Land Management’s plan is “to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.” With the Ford Motor Company comes a mission that is short and sweet: “One Team. One Plan. One Goal.” And Dairy Queen desires to “create positive memories for all who touch DQ.”
For us individuals, it appears that our mission statements should express who we are, what we’re about and why – all within 10-20 words. What exactly should our lives look like? Does that life include a big house, for example? That probably won’t work for the person who likes to be on the go; it’s far too much upkeep.
What’s more important in a career – money or satisfaction? Unfortunately, it seems that one can hardly ever have both; a personal mission statement would zero in on priorities. A high standard of living requires some major bucks, which would rule out minimum wage jobs. Do you care about mankind in general? Or is your own circle about all you can manage? In that case, running for public office is probably a no-go.
Yes, I’m beginning to think that a personal mission statement might come in handy. Of course, it’s most valuable when we can figure out exactly what goals, purpose, vision and strategies are important to us, early enough in our lives to make any difference.
Do I have a mission statement? Well, not exactly – at least not something I can put in 10-20 words. I’m a “bloom where you’re planted” or ”when life hands you lemons, make lemonade” kind of person. I liken my position to that of Supreme Court Justice John Guarrine (1886-1971). He said, “Life is God’s joke on us. It’s our mission to figure out the punch line.”
That’s it! I’m just waiting for the punch line…