Chuck at I Hate Your Job has tagged me for a meme that I find particularly interesting: Personal Mission Statements. Many times these games of blog tag are humorous time-wasters that add little to the serious discourse of the blogging community. However, the idea of writing a personal mission statement and sharing it with your readers is particularly significant.
My first encounter with personal mission statements was in reading Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The concept was very simple: define who I am, what I value, and how I should live my life in light of these realizations. I began immediately trying to put together a list of roles and values. I quickly found that the task was going to be more difficult than I’d initially believed, though.
After taking a good, hard look at myself, it occurred to me that many of us don’t know ourselves very well at all and that, even if we do, we rarely live our lives in accordance with that knowledge. For example, how many of us work at jobs that we profess to hate? And, yet, we still continue to spend the majority of our lives in these places without looking for something better. Or, if we do look for another job, we take the approach that anything is better, just as long as it’s different. This is a dangerous trap caused by either not knowing ourselves or ignoring our own values, needs, and desires.
Chuck’s tag comes at an interesting time for me because I was already working on my personal mission statement. I had started writing one a few years ago and my efforts dwindled away over time as other concerns took priority. A couple of months ago, though, I decided to read 7 Habits again and really work on defining my core roles and values and ultimately, a personal mission statement. When Chuck emailed me, I was in the middle of writing a first draft of this mission statement.
I think Stephen Covey’s approach to this is a good one. He suggests that you define your roles in life first. Think about it. You are one person, but you’re many things to many people, a father to your children, a spouse or significant other to your partner, an employee or employer, a writer or blogger, a member of a church or other group, and, most importantly, an individual. I say that your role as an individual is most important because it is the deepest layer, the most inner part of yourself that defines who you are. Without having an idea of what’s important to you, it’s almost impossible to develop a proper perspective on your other roles in life.
I have a lot more to say on this topic, but I’m going to save it for another post. I’ll be including some of my own personal mission statement, too, so check back soon.