Your Mission Now More Than Ever
If you’ve spent any time on social media, or in line at the grocery store, or at the coffee shop, you’ve undoubtedly heard symptoms of a nation deeply divided; of a deeply divided humanity. Right now, there is a strong sense of “us versus them,” and “right versus wrong.” You may feel like nothing you can do can change this. You may feel hopeless.
I have an exercise that can get you back on the path to making impact. It can help you reframe – to regain clarity about why you’re doing what you’re doing – and it can help you move forward, even in the darkest of times.
And this is one of those dark times, isn’t it?
That’s why it’s a perfect time to revisit why you’re here, so you can reposition yourself, continue moving forward, and help the healing process for you and us as a country.
So as the end of each year approaches, we evaluate why we’re doing what we’re doing. We develop a vision for the coming year, in relation to our mission, and we create plans for fulfilling that vision. Finally, we talk about which values we can embrace to accomplish the vision.
That’s why today, I’m sharing the following two-part exercise with you … so you too can revisit, reexamine, and reframe to your mission.
Ready? Let’s do this.
Exercise: Revisit, Reexamine, Reframe Part One. Get Clear on Your Why.
I’ve listed three questions below; ask yourself any or all of them, because each one offers a unique path for identifying what’s most important to you. Different approaches work for different people, so answer whichever ones feel most comfortable to you.
And write down your answers, so you have them in black and white as you grow and revisit this exercise again and again.
1. WHAT IS TRUE ABOUT YOU TODAY THAT WOULD MAKE YOUR 8-YEAR-OLD SELF CRY? When I was a child, I used to write stories. I used to sit in my room for hours writing away, I wrote poetry, short novels, about any and everything, about my friends and family. Not because I wanted anyone to read it. Not because I wanted to impress my parents or teachers. But for the sheer joy of it. And then, for some reason, I stopped. And I don’t remember why. We all have a tendency to lose touch with what we loved as a child. Something about the social pressures of adulthood and professional pressures squeezes the passion out of us. We’re taught that the only reason to do something is if we’re somehow rewarded for it. It wasn’t until recently that I rediscovered how much I loved writing. And it wasn’t until I started my business that I remembered how much I enjoyed building people up. The funny thing though, is that if my 8-year-old self would ask my present adult self, “Why don’t you write anymore?” and I replied, “Because I’m not good at it,” or “Because nobody would read what I write,” or “Because you can’t make money doing that,” not only would I have been completely wrong, but that 8-year-old girl version of myself would have probably started crying.
2. GUN TO YOUR HEAD, IF YOU HAD TO LEAVE THE HOUSE ALL DAY, EVERY DAY, WHERE WOULD YOU GO AND WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
For many of us, the enemy is just old-fashioned complacency. We get into our routines. We distract ourselves. The couch is comfortable. The Doritos are cheesy. And nothing new happens. This is a problem. What most people don’t understand is that passion is the result of action, not the cause of it. Discovering what you’re passionate about in life and what matters to you is a full-contact sport, a trial-and-error process. None of us know exactly how we feel about an activity until we actually do the activity. So ask yourself, if someone put a gun to your head and forced you to leave your house every day for everything except for sleep, how would you choose to occupy yourself? And no, you can’t just go sit in a coffee shop and browse Facebook. You probably already do that. Let’s pretend there are no useless websites, no video games, no TV. You have to be outside of the house all day every day until it’s time to go to bed — where would you go and what would you do?
Sign up for a dance class? Join a book club? Go get another degree? Invent a new form of irrigation system that can save the thousands of children’s lives in rural Africa? Learn to hang glide?
What would you do with all of that time? If it strikes your fancy, write down a few answers and then, you know, go out and actually do them. Bonus points if it involves embarrassing yourself.
3. IF YOU KNEW YOU WERE GOING TO DIE ONE YEAR FROM TODAY, WHAT WOULD YOU DO AND HOW WOULD YOU WANT TO BE REMEMBERED?
Most of us don’t like thinking about death. It freaks us out. But thinking about our own death surprisingly has a lot of practical advantages. One of those advantages is that it forces us to zero in on what’s actually important in our lives and what’s just frivolous and distracting.
When I was in college, I used to walk around and ask people, “If you had a year to live, what would you do?” As you can imagine, I was a huge hit at parties. A lot of people gave vague and boring answers. A few drinks were nearly spit on me. But it did cause people to really think about their lives in a different way and re-evaluate what their priorities were.
What is your legacy going to be? What are the stories people are going to tell when you’re gone? What is your obituary going to say? Is there anything to say at all? If not, what would you like it to say? How can you start working towards that today?
When people feel like they have no sense of direction, no purpose in their life, it’s because they don’t know what’s important to them, they don’t know what their values are.
And when you don’t know what your values are, then you’re essentially taking on other people’s values and living other people’s priorities instead of your own. This is a one-way ticket to unhealthy relationships and eventual misery.
Discovering one’s “purpose” in life essentially boils down to finding those one or two things that are bigger than yourself, and bigger than those around you. And to find them you must get off your couch and act, and take the time to think beyond yourself, to think greater than yourself, and paradoxically, to imagine a world without yourself.
Part Two. Define Your Vision.
The purpose of this part of the exercise is to help you determine exactly what you’ll do in this next year to fulfill the mission you just re-clarified in Part One.
Consider your vision for the next year.
When you close your eyes and envision your business, how you lead, and your life at the end of next year, it’s December, 31, 2017, what have you accomplished that supports your mission?
Paint the picture of where you see yourself then, and, more importantly, focus on how that feels to you.
Remember, write this down.
Now that you’re clear on your mission and vision again, remember that your courage and your mission must be louder than the hopeless voice – the gremlins – in your head.
What will you do, every single day, to make sure that little voice doesn’t run your life and your business?
What will you do, daily, to further your mission?