Living life beyond success requires that you achieve a key success factor:
Clarify your personal mission in work and in life.
I’ve thought a bit about this topic lately, so I picked up a book by one of my favorite authors, Laurie Beth Jones. In her book, The Path: Creating Your Mission Statement for Work and for Life, she highlights eleven myths that people often believe about their mission.
Personal Mission Statement Defined
According to Wikipedia, a mission statement is:
A mission statement is a formal, short, written statement of the purpose of a company or organization. The mission statement should guide the actions of the organization, spell out its goals, give a sense of direction, and guide decision-making. It provides “the framework or context within which the company’s strategies are formulated.”
You are just as important as a company or organization. In fact, it is Steven Covey who pioneered the concept that we should have our own personal mission statements to make sure that we are living lives in sync with our values, passions, talents, and strengths. The world around us will benefit when we are living up to our full potential.
But before we go about the process of creating our personal mission statements, it’s important to understand some “myth-understandings” that many of us have about our mission.
6 Myths Re: Personal Mission
Myth #1: “My job is my mission.”
Your job, particularly in this global economy, is certain to undergo many changes during your lifetime. If you are confining your sense of mission only to your job, you are greatly limiting your possibilities, talents, and strengths. You need to look beyond your current job when figuring out you personal mission in life. Otherwise, you will be setting yourself up for loss of a sense of identity if your job should be downsized suddenly. Further, your mission keeps you grounded both at work and away from work, so that you have a sense of balance between your work and personal lives.
Myth #2: “My role is my mission.”
At different stages in life, you will find that different roles dominate your life. It’s important to remember that your mission extends beyond whatever role you’re giving the most time and attention in your life now.
For example, an adult child who is caring for their ill parent may find that they become consumed with the role of the caretaker. Years may pass, and they may find that giving care to a loved one is the only thing they knew how to do really well, or became comfortable with. After that loved one passes, there may once again be a loss of a sense of who they are, since this very big part of their life is gone.
After some counseling and support, this adult child may find that they can re-define their sense of mission as ‘service.’ They may find it very helpful to serve in many different capacities, perhaps at a place of worship, or at a nursing home, or an a social service agency as a volunteer. Their mission will then serve to invigorate them and help them integrate that loss into their life in a significant way.
Myth #3: “My ‘To-Do’ list is my mission.”
Sometimes we stay really busy to feel as though we are accomplishing meaningful things. Sometimes we stay busy to avoid that nagging feeling that we are unhappy doing what we are doing. Sometimes we stay busy to avoid the slowing down, self-reflection, and meditation that are the ‘real’ activities required to get in touch with our personal missions.
There are many “things” we can engage in, but they may fall into the class of ‘not so important’ activities. When choose activities that are in line with our true sense of calling and mission, our activities are then put in their proper places.
Myth #4: “I am not currently living my mission.”
Sometimes we can tend to downplay what we are already doing in our lives, thinking that somehow we have missed the boat. Too often, we are so focused on what we don’t have, what we aren’t doing, and on the goals we have not yet accomplished, that we lose awareness of what we do have, what we have accomplished and are accomplishing.
The goal is to increase our awareness of what parts of our mission we are already living, so that we can life our mission even more fully. Living more fully does not always mean planning for the future, when we think we’ll have more resources and accomplishments. We can bloom where we are planted. In fact, greatness often comes from constant and never-ending improvement, making each day a masterpiece, and being faithful to our opportunities and responsibilities within our circle of influence.
Myth #5: “I am not important enough to have a mission.”
Every leader, every person of influence, every great historical figure has had their moments of self-doubt, feelings of failure, and a wish to throw in the towel. In fact, many times, they thought they had thrown in the towel.
Every positive action you take, every choice you make to live with integrity, every act of kindness, love, and service you do for another human being is like a stone being thrown into a calm lake. It ripples out, in never-ending concentric circles.
Do not deprive the world of the great things you can carry out, particularly when your make sure that your vision and mission are crafted under the awareness of your Creator.
Here is a beautiful piece of Scripture that Ms. Jones shares at the end of her chapter about this topic of personal mission.
I hope you will take it to heart, so that you can see how valuable you are to God, the Creator of your body and soul:
For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.
1 You have searched me, LORD,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, LORD, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, [a] God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Today’s New International Version (TNIV)
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