I was in Boston a couple weeks ago for the American Chemical Society meeting, and had dinner with a long-time friend. She has changed her life significantly over the last few years – going back to school for a new degree at night while working full-time, selling her house, and now starting a new job that takes advantage of her extra education.
During the course of the conversation, she mentioned that she has written a personal mission statement, which she updates on a regular basis. I’ve heard of companies doing this, but never an individual. When I mentioned this to some collegues at the meeting, a few of them said they had done the same thing.
Accoding to Wikipedia, a mission statement is “a brief statement of the purpose of a company or religious or other organization”. They are used to resolve differences between various stakeholders, and keep the company on track. Upon reflection, I can see how this would be useful for an individual as well.
There are many things we say are important – career, spending time with family, making money, hobbies, friends, volunteer work, and so on. But if you had to write a single sentance that encapsuated what you want to do with your life, you would really have to pare the list down, and admit that some of those things are less important than others.
When a new opportunity or decision comes up, looking back at your mission statement might help you remember what you thought was really important, before you were tempted by a new offering. I will be giving this some thought, and may be writing one for myself. I’d love to see examples that others have written. Or maybe I’ll just borrow this one….
“Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”—Google