Living Well

January 27, 2010

Writing a Personal Mission Statement

If you have been following my blogs, you may see that I have been working to bring you to this particular blog on writing a personal mission statement.  I am bringing you here because there is too much talk about living well and not enough real action and effort put into it.  I just devoured the Feb. 2010 issue of Success Magazine.  It is filled with articles and shorts expressing the same things over and over.  Without a personal mission and passion for living well, we are only wishful thinkers about our lives and our futures.  I highly recommend the Feb. issue of Success Magazine.  It is worth reading and following some of the activities listed there.

Living well does not happen by chance.  It is a series of choices we make starting with what we believe to be our personal mission.  In this blog, I want to give you a handle on writing a personal mission.  There are many techniques out there, but I have used this particular step-by-step process with thousands of people—so I KNOW it works.  One thing I would state up front.  Your mission will become clearer over time, but you need a place to start.  These exercises will help you begin that process.

I am going to give you these steps a little at a time because you need time to reflect and think about personal mission and living well.  It is not a race to see how quickly you can complete the task.  I teach this process in a leadership class three times a year.  It takes students about five weeks to really work through the process.  I will give you all the steps quickly, but it may honestly take you a number of weeks to fully work through them to write a clear personal mission statement.

So, step one—consider your life from the end.  This is not unique to me.  This is a premise advised by Stephen Covey and others.  Covey calls it, “Beginning with the end in mind.”  We get caught in the moment without at times considering where we are headed.  In working with many senior adults and researching senior adults over the past five years, I have come to understand that many of them do not end life well because they have not considered the end until they are at the end.  By that point, it is too late.  One of the hidden and sad realities of senior adults is the high rate of suicide.  There are many factors for this, but one does relate to the emptiness of life and the conclusion that life has been for no real purpose.  Writing a personal mission statement now can help a person from this moment on through the rest of their lives.

These questions are to begin helping you set a target for living well and writing a mission.  Take time to complete the series of questions.  Get a journal to aid you in the process.  Here goes.

  • When I consider my life from the end, what do I long to achieve or see as a part of my life that I believe will give it meaning?
  • If there were no barriers to what I could do in life, what work or activity would I undertake that would bring me personal fulfillment and satisfaction?  Why do I believe this?
  • If I discovered today that I had just six months to live, what would I focus on?  How would I rank my life agenda by priority so that these priorities would be accomplished before I die?
  • At an old age, when you think back across your life, what will bring a smile to your face?  What will give you a feeling that your life has been lived well—to its fullest, in a whole manner?
  • What do I want said about me by my family, friends, and community at the end of my life?
  • What do I believe God is asking me to undertake or be during my lifetime?  What keeps me from acknowledging and accepting this belief?

These questions are meant to help you consider your life, your legacy, and living well—for setting a target toward which you actually live out daily.  See, you are not guaranteed anything.  I was not guaranteed a cancer free life.  It happened.  But, I can choose to make choices about living well in the midst of these life difficulties.  I can choose to live with purpose and meaning, no matter the circumstances or outcome.

The question in BOLD is a particularly important one. We deceive ourselves when we think people will have legacy words to say about us when we actually do not build that life over time.  What is said about us at the end of life is built OVER a life, not in the final moments of it.  It is as the adage says, “Live in such a way that when you die, the preacher doesn’t have to lie.”

This is step one.  The other steps will follow in the days ahead, but this will get you started.  Blessings to you as you work through these questions.  The reality is that millions of people will never even consider these questions about life.  They will float and hope something better just happens.  Bluntly, it just won’t.  Grace and peace to you in this life changing process.  Live well!

David Neidert

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