A few years ago, I decided to write a personal mission statement for myself. It was 2011 to be exact and it was not the first time, nor the last, that I found myself flailing in a sea of existential angst. One thing I’ve learned over time is that, thankfully, these spells don’t tend to last long. My recipe for existential angst involves a somewhat annoying episode of navel gazing with a splash of ennui, topped off with the Big Questions.
Why are we here? What am I doing with my life?
Anyway, back in 2011 I decided that I wanted to distill my hopes for my life into their simplest, most basic components. I didn’t follow a specific process, I just mulled it over until something emerged that made sense to me. What I came up with were the two humble statements above. They may not look like much, but these tiny concepts have actually served me well over the past few years.
I realized from the get-go that “Do things that matter” was frustratingly vague. It does not, of course, tell me what to do at all. At first this bothered me and I felt like I needed to come up with something more specific. But, as it turned out, it’s a pretty helpful gauge for decision making. I can usually recognize what matters and what does not, the old “you’ll know it when you see it.” Asking myself, “Does this matter?” has clarified a number of decisions for me. It’s particularly helpful in deciding what not to do. If I ask myself if something matters and the answer is no, then I try not to do it, which opens up more time for the things that do matter.
The second statement, “See the world” made the decision to move to Australia last year an easier one because I knew that it aligned with what I want from life.
So there you have it—my life in a nutshell.
I know that some people create much more elaborate, goal-oriented personal mission statements, as well as mission statements for their marriage or family. I’ve never done that, but perhaps some day I will. I’m curious—have you ever created a personal mission statement? If so, how did you do it?