Does Your Life Have a Mission? If not, in this post I will share with you how to create a mission for your life in four simple tried and true steps. They are the same four steps that I used in crafting my own personal life mission 18 years ago that has guided my life to this day.
What Does a Life Mission Look Like?
Today I went to a funeral for a church acquaintance whose mom passed away. She had been suffering the last several years from Alzheimer's but prior to that she lived a very vivacious life. The daughter of Baptist missionaries, she was born and raised in Brazil. She made her way to the U.S., married, had 3 children and went on to become an art therapist, helping many to heal from trauma through expressive art.
What are the odds that someone who grew up in the jungles of Brazil could make a transition like that and successfully make a living doing it? It was her mission to use her artistic talent to help others, driven by her faith and trust in Jesus that guided her path and ultimately her success and legacy.
My "Aha" Mission Moment
Back in 2000, I took a Franklin Covey Time Management course being offered through the company I worked for. The biggest take away from that course for me was the idea that “if you plan it, you can do it”. In fact, I remember arguing with the moderator in my head when she said it. “No, you can’t”, I thought, “you don’t control the world. Just because you plan something doesn’t mean you can make it happen. There are so many things going on in the world out of your control. That statement is not only arrogant, it’s not true…”
The truth was, I did not believe that “if you plan it, you can do it” was possible because I had been conditioned to believe that so many things were out of my control, that planning for things was a waste of time. One of the biggest examples of that limiting thinking I placed on myself was that “there was no guarantee I was going to live to be 75, so it was pointless to save for retirement”.
However, rather than audibly argue with the moderator, I made a decision to submit to the idea of making a plan, and that decision proved to be one of the essential pivots of my life.
That decision changed my thinking about planning, which ultimately changed my future. On the other side of that decision, I’m so glad I chose to start saving for retirement so young.
Because of that course, I became one of the biggest proponents of planning ever! I thrived in filling up my Franklin Covey planner with goals and fell in love with checking things off my daily task list. But daily tasks were not the point of the course, just the stepping stones to the bigger picture of mission.
Why Have a Personal Mission?
If you want to live a meaningful life, you need to have a clear definition of what you’re living for. Your personal mission should be a thoughtful reflection of your deepest values and your overall life goals.
If you don't design your own life plan, chances are you'll fall into someone else's plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.Jim Rohn
Stephen Covey equated a personal mission to an airplane’s flight plan. Did you know that airplanes are off their flight plan 90% of the time? Yet they still manage to get to their destinations on time, barring other factors like weather and mechanical issues. How is that possible?
It’s because they are constantly listening to input on how to correct their path to align more with the flight plan. The same is true of our lives. When we have a mission for our lives, we can be off 90% of the time, but as long as we have something to course correct for, we can still wind up at our destination. We can still achieve our life goals, we can still live meaningful lives, despite what obstacles life throws our way.
My Personal Life Mission
One of the very first assignments in that Franklin Covey course was to craft a personal mission statement. This was something I had already thought deeply about back in college so it easily translated for this assignment. One of my co-workers commented that I was the only person he had ever met who already had a personal mission statement. This was because I knew what I wanted out of life from a young age. Here is what I wrote back then:
My Personal Mission Statement
To rise above the chains that now bind me.
To always remember my word is my bond.
To leave the world a better place because I lived.
To show others by example that faith in Jesus and optimism can conquer any circumstance.
To pave the road for those who follow me.
To be remembered as a quality woman.
To always take the time to be thankful.
To hear my Heavenly Father say to me “well done thou good and faithful servant”.
The Importance of a Life Mission
I went on a short term mission trip for one week to Nicaragua last year. The mission of that trip was to build a preschool in one week and minister to the people on the outskirts of Managua in a town called Dios Provee. We accomplished our mission.
The mission of my beloved AOL, the company I lived and breathed for 17 years, was to “ to build a global medium as central to people's lives as the telephone and the television...and even more valuable”. AOL accomplished its mission, pioneering the global medium now known as the internet which is even more valuable than the telephone and the television.. It’s eerie to read these words now given how true they have become, despite that when they were penned, virtually no one was even online yet.
My point is, trips have missions and companies have missions, shouldn’t our lives have missions too? I think so. In looking back on my own personal mission statement, which I had not read in 6 years, many of the things I had written have already been accomplished. Others are on track to being accomplished because of what I am actively involved in doing today.
There has not been a straight line to these accomplishments in my lifetime but a jagged one which is constantly being course corrected by God. I am purposeful toward that end and trusting Him to accomplish these things through my life as I submit it to him.
How to Create Your Life Mission
Here are the simple steps from Stephen Covey that I followed to craft my life mission.
Step 1: Identify Your Values
Are you living a life in alignment with your core values? Do you know what your values are? Some sample values are: Dependability. Responsibility. Reliability. Integrity. Honesty. Open Mindedness. Efficiency. Love. Loyalty. Spirituality. Courage. Humor. Gratitude. Career.
Write down those things that you value most.
Step 2: Identify Your Roles
List your life roles and the key people associated with each of those roles. For example, for role of wife, you’d list your spouse. Role of parent, you’d list your kids, etc.
Now write a sentence that defines your ideal performance in each of those roles.
Step 3: Contributions You Want to Make
What are the things you are passionate about that others seem to comment on about you? What are the gifts or skills you have that set you apart to make a difference in your life spheres (work, family, community, social media community, etc.) What are the contributions you want to make to this world before you die?
Write these all down.
Step 4: Bring it All Together
Now ask yourself whether the life contributions you want to make align with the values you listed in step 1. If so, feel free to assign your life contributions to those values and their corresponding roles. Then bring it all together in a paragraph form starting with “My Life’s Mission is to…”
Your mission statement should express the contributions you want to make in your lifetime, the things you want to do and the kind of person you want to be, based on the roles you play in every sphere of your life.
If you need further help with crafting your personal mission, sign up for my free e-course, The 7 Day Life Refocus Challenge, below.
Choose What is Essential
Having a life mission also makes it easier to say no to the things that detract from that mission and yes to the things that advance it.
Having a mission for your life can help you stay in your own swim lane when you get tempted to overcommit to things that you may not be gifted or called to do. Someone else will do it. Don’t feel like everything is your responsibility. People are given different gifts and different passions for a reason. If we all embraced our own and stopped trying to imitate each other we’d change the world a lot faster. I listened to a great podcast this week by Tim Ferris, “How to Say No Gracefully and Uncommit”, totally worth a listen if you struggle with overcommitting.
The main takeaway is that deciding what is essential vs. non-essential in your everyday decisions is what will propel your life mission forward.
In Summary, if you want to have a meaningful life, you need a clear definition of what you're living for. Creating your life mission will be a flight plan for your life's destination that is informed by your values, roles and ideal contributions.
You can create a life mission using four steps from Stephen Covey's Franklin Covey Time Management course:
- Identify your values
- Identify your roles
- List your ideal contributions
- Bring it all together
If you plan it, you can do it.
Live your life on mission and you will get there.
Welcome to Honey & Figs! I'm Lisa. I love helping people with practical ways to live more abundant lives based on my own experience. You can click here to find out more about me.