Welcome to 2019!
The new year feels like a fresh start. So many people are gung ho to make big changes. They may even dive into a new diet or a gym membership or sign up for classes or look for a new job. And so often these changes don’t stick, because change is hard and because the new change (the what) isn’t tied to a why.
At the end of last year, I shared ideas about tapping into your core values and writing your personal mission statement as a way to clarify what’s important to you and to tie your actions to your “why.” I find great value in the process of writing a mission statement, but the long term value is in bringing your mission statement to life.
Use Your Mission Statement to Support Life Goals
Because your mission statement is tied to your core values, it can be your compass as you navigate life toward big goals. Here’s how my personal mission statement clarified what is important to me and helps me support my goals.
Health is an important value for me. Knowing I sometimes have trouble making time for myself, I have articulated that value in my mission statement as being a gift to both me and my family. By taking care of me, I lessen the burden on them. Articulating that value in my mission statement might inspire me to go for a walk or do some yoga rather than surf the web when I have a spare 30 minutes.
My mission statement acts as a guide in making life decisions both big and small. Kindness is a strong value for me and having “being guided by love and kindness” in my mission statement reminds me to take the time to listen to my children or help my mom find the very best care even when I am busy. But it also reminds me to help in these ways out of a feeling of love, not obligation.
Every person’s values and goals and how they define and use their values are different. For example if the value of caring is in your mission statement, that might encourage you to help out an elderly neighbor on a weekly basis, but it could encourage someone else to work harder to earn more so they could support a cause they care about.
Start Letting Your Mission Statement Guide You
The beauty of a mission statement is that it provides a very concise guide to your values and ideals. The danger of a set of words is that it becomes a simple slogan and no more.
Writing your mission statement is only the beginning. It’s time to start living it.
Your mission statement helps you define who you are and what you do. You can use it as a filter or litmus test when making decisions about anything from who you want to work with or be friends with, what you want to do, where to go on vacation, how to spend your weekends or what to eat.
But maybe even more important, a mission statement helps you live in alignment with what you value, your why, and that can create a strong sense of purpose. Purpose in turn can lead to a deeper feeling of meaning and (based on research studies) a longer and healthier life.
How to Live Your Values Bit by Bit
Living your values may mean adding things to your life, or it may mean making choices.
If you value using creativity, and your job does not totally fulfill that desire, can you join a poetry class or paint, or pick up the guitar again? Or maybe you can find ways to add creativity into your existing job. Heeding the call of your values will make life resonate and feel more meaningful.
If adventure and daring are part of your values, you’ll plan a different vacation than a person that values culture or relaxing. Do you value nature, physical challenge, new experiences? All these can show up in how you plan your time off.
And what about weekends? If you value helping others, maybe you choose to volunteer. That may mean prioritizing volunteering over other activities. That can be hard to do in a busy world, but having clearly stated values and a mission make it easier to focus on what’s important to you and filter out other things.
You don’t have to go all in right now and burn out like so many people after a week of New Year’s resolutions.
Start living your mission statement in baby steps. Add in one small thing that better aligns with your mission. Remove something that doesn’t fit to make space for what you truly value.
For example, learning is a core value for me. I love to learn through books but have a hard time making time to read. To honor my value of learning, I gave up doing email at night so that I had time and energy to read the books that fill me up and make my life richer.
What’s one thing you can do right now that honors one of your values?
Every act, no matter how small, brings you closer in alignment to the life you want to live.
Start living your mission statement today. Don’t have a mission statement? Create yours now using my step-by-step guide.