Editor’s Note: This article was written in April 2010 but its message continues to be relevant today…..
The past few days I’ve been working on an article for a leadership journal that I was asked to write. My intention for the article is to encourage each of us to consider whether or not our actions are in alignment with our mission and vision. The question is valid at each stage of our existence — from our personal lives to our organizational lives and on up to our country and global presence. Writing the article has caused me to peer into my own mission and vision. Do they still resonate with me? Am I living on purpose?
The pondering as to whether or not we are living on purpose is a question we can all benefit in pursuing. Do you have a clearly stated and inspiring mission and vision statement for your life? If not, I would encourage you to develop one. If you have one, are you living on purpose? That is, are the majority of your actions each day in alignment with the mission for your life and your vision for the future?
Developing A Mission and Vision Statement
So what is the mission and vision statement and how do you go about developing one of each? You can take classes and workshops which go into great detail on the advantages of having such statements and how to write them and how to ensure your actions are in alignment. In fact, I’ve taught such classes. But I’m here make it simple.
A mission statement is simply a few words which describes what the purpose of your life is. What is your life about? What are you here on the planet to do? If someone on an elevator asked you what you were born to be, what would be your brief answer? Here’s my current one: “be a teacher and change agent for good“.
The vision statement is also just a few words but is more future oriented. If you are mission statement describes what you’re about each day, then your vision statement is a picture of the future that will come about by your working on your mission. Here’s my current vision statement: “create a world that works for everyone“. Focusing on this future vision guides and motivates the actions of my mission. As I teach and encourage change, such actions are always moving towards creating that world that works for everyone. If my actions are in alignment, then I am living on purpose.
How to develop these statements? The best process is really pretty easy. It involves looking inside yourself on the one hand and looking at your outer world on the other.
Going within — listen to your intuition. Most people have a pretty good idea as to the mission of their life. Something just calls them. Something just feels right. Something just brings them joy when they are doing it. That inner feeling is giving you guidance.
Looking outside — investigate the patterns that showing up in your life. Most people can step back and look at their lives and see if we keep getting drawn over and over to the same things, the same activities, the same opportunities. They might even try to avoid it but it keeps coming back. These patterns are giving you guidance.
Here’s a quick process to develop your mission and vision statements. Get relaxed, redirect your attention inside yourself, within your mind ask for guidance. Sit quietly for a few minutes pondering these two questions: “what activity brings joy and meaning to my life?” and “what activity keeps showing up in my life that I need to pay attention to?” Get out some paper or a journal and write what comes up. After you’ve captured all the thoughts that have flowed to you, synthesize them down to a few words… whatever your day-to-day actions are, that is your mission… whatever your description of a positive future is, that is your vision. Don’t get too hung up on the perfect words….create your statements and call them your “current” ones like I do….then you can always change them as you get more guidance!
Are You Living On Purpose?
Once you have a mission and vision statement, the next task is to make sure that your actions each day are working in alignment with them. Keep your statements posted somewhere where you can see them each day. As you create your “to do” list, check it against your statements. Not all daily actions are going to be coming from your mission nor directed in accomplishing your vision. However, there should be at least some of your daily actions that are moving you in the direction of your purpose.
Your living on purpose plays out in your personal life where you have the most control…..but consider whether or not you are on purpose at your job or work. The question frequently comes up “what if my mission/vision are totally unrelated to the job I do at work?” There are several things you can consider. First, being aware of this fact may offer you insight as to why you might not enjoy your work. Second, even though your purpose in life may seem unrelated to your work, very rarely is there a job where you cannot bring your purpose into it to some degree. Look for areas of flexibility within your sphere of influence at work where you can bring in some actions related to your life purpose. Third, you can seek to be more on purpose and things you do away from work and draw meaning from them. Finally, there is always the potential for a career change.
Beyond your personal life and work life….you are also a player within your friends and family…within your spiritual community or civic organizations…..within your duty as a citizen of the town, county, state and country…..and ultimately how you show up in the world at large…..are you living on purpose on all the stages on which you play? Think about it.
The more you are living on purpose in your life, the more joy and happiness fills your being. You lose track of time. You feel as if you are “in the flow”… you feel connected to something outside you. Life begins to move with effortless ease and grace. The more you are living on purpose in all areas of your life, the move you see how everything is interconnected and how you are a part of that interlocking universe. Enjoy it!
Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his recent one Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities. In this book, he offers what he suggests are the 5 basic rights we all possess by virtue of our being these spiritual beings on planet Earth — and our 2 responsibilities we all hold in relation to one another! Check it out!