Your Mission, Should You Decide to Accept It...|
Posted: August 5th. 2002
Times Viewed: 8,903
Every organization begins with one thing: a mission statement. A mission statement is both an internal and an external document. It describes to those outside the organization what the purpose of the company or group is (it's reason for existence) and it also serves as a guide to keep the company or group on track. It is the most important document that a company, group or organization will ever create. It is also the most difficult one to write. Mission statements need to be short, concise, clear, focused and exquisitely self-explanatory. A clear mission statement always points to the end result. It states what the company, group or organization is and what it is doing...not what it hopes to accomplish, not what it is trying to do, but what it actually is doing right now to accomplish that which is its very reason for existing in the first place.
Now you personally may never form an organization, a company or a group. But that doesn't mean that you don't need to have a mission statement for your life.
When we are young in years, the most important people in our lives tend to be our family and our friends. As we grow older and enter into the workplace, the value judgments of our co-workers -- and certainly that of our bosses and company heads -- become important as well. And if we are members of a spiritual or religious group or community, the opinions of these people are also something that we tend to consider as we contemplate our actions and interactions. If you could solicit just one statement from each of these groups -- one from your family, one from your friends, one from your co-workers and bosses and one from your spiritual or religious community -- on just what you 'mean' to them or what they value most about you and/or your life, what would you want those statements to be? (Yes, this is a test. There is always a test.)
This exercise is not designed to dismiss what you may personally wish to think about yourself. Ultimately, we have to find what is true within ourselves and stick to that even if outside opinion sometimes pressures us to do otherwise. But this little 'test' will help you to determine what your priorities actually are and, in turn, will aid you in the writing up of your own personal mission statement for living. So take a look at those groups again. Which one group opinion would mean the most to you? Then go from there and list the others in the order of importance. Now write some statements under each category. For example:
Family: For better or for worse, this is the unit into which we were born. If 'family' is on the top of your list, then the health and well-being of the family unit (whatever it may be for you) will always outweigh other considerations in your personal life. You will sacrifice a new job or an opportunity to move or to spend time away from the family if these things would destabilize or harm the family dynamic. You would tend to either embrace the cultural or spiritual/religious mores of the unit or to keep any deviations from the family 'norm' a secret. How your family views your place within the fold is the most important issue and so this would be the first part of any personal mission statement that you would write. You might see phrases such as, "My family always comes first." or "My family (parents, spouse, children) and I agree that we will never go to sleep angry with one another." as a part of your mission statement then.
Friends: "You can't choose your family, but you can choose your friends" is something that rings true for many Pagans. It is not uncommon for Pagans to be rather distanced or estranged from their biological family and therefore for their friends to take on the role of 'family'. Here you might write down, "Never betray a friend." or "To have a friend, I have to be a friend."
Money/Career: If getting ahead in the career of your choice is what is most important, then you may tend to sacrifice time with friends or family in order to do that. Sometimes this is a short-term goal and sometimes it really is a necessity in that it plays to one of your other priorities, such as providing for your family or helping your friends. But you may indeed be a person whose top priority it is to win the executive office and all of your energy will be focused on doing just that. Hence your mission statement might read, "I will work whatever hours necessary to gain the promotions." or "I will do more than my job description requires to get ahead in the company." Education also falls into this category as you, and/or your significant other, may have to work two jobs (or your parents may have to sacrifice other things or you may have to put off having a family yourself) to attend classes or serve internships for many years. "Everything else will have to wait until after I get that Ph.D." or "I need private time to write this book," might make your list then. And while others often may think that such driving motivation towards success in some field or endeavor is inherently selfish (especially if their own priorities lie elsewhere), those involved in altruistic work or activism can often be just as singled-minded towards their particular projects.
Spiritual/Religious Community: Religious or spiritual identity is important to many people. Some see it as an supplement to the rest of their life and some see a religious or spiritual calling as their life. Putting on the label of a spiritual or religious identity does not result in instant wisdom, enlightenment or salvation. Doing what is required and/or adhering to the tenets of one's spiritual or religious choice does. Hence "I will walk my talk." or "I will study hard in order to grow in my faith," might find its way onto your list.
Now that you have your list before you comes the hard part: making it all work together. How are you going to balance your commitments to your first priorities with the potential demands of the others? And more importantly, what things on your list are simply non-negotiable? These are called 'principles'.
From which of your principles can you not be moved? Honesty? Commitment? Honor? Kindness? Truth? Faith? Fidelity? Love? Go back over your list now and write in the 'principle' that would apply to each of your statements. You may begin to see a pattern emerge. If 'love' or 'commitment' keeps cropping up, this could be considered as your 'guiding wisdom'. This 'wisdom' is the 'why' some things and people get the higher priority than other things in your life. And from your guiding wisdom, will come your mission statement.
Your mission statement is what you will come back to when conflicting issues arise. It will guide you when decisions have to be made. It will save you from wasting time on things that do not further your personal goal and will help you to better recognize that sense of unease that sometimes creeps up on you as you begin to wonder if you are indeed in the right place.
It is your center from which all else will be viewed and assessed and your secure space in which to contemplate your next step. So what is important to you? Who is important to you? And what would you like the people in your life to say about you if you indeed someday summoned up the courage to ask? Well, if you don't know where you are going, how are you ever going to know when you get there? Having a 'mission' in life is not just for those who aspire to do great things although no one who ever did great things accomplished them without one.
Your statement, should you decide to write it, could help you to establish priorities, recognize your guiding principles and stay on track throughout your life.
Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to transform your statement into action...
And then to live what you love.
Co-Founder - The Witches' Voice
Monday, August 5th., 2002
Photo Credit: the beautiful 'vine inlay' image on our front cover and detailed just above is actually the cover to a box that Wren scored at the local thrift shop earlier this year.
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