A personal mission sounds pretty serious, doesn’t it? Living your life by a personal mission must be something really hard and difficult. It means waking up every day and creating your flow of actions according to that personal mission statement, right? That means your freedom is gone. Being spontaneous is doomed and your life enjoyment dead and buried.
Many people I know are thinking like this. To be honest, I used to think the same, for a very long part of my life. Having a personal mission always sounded extremely limiting to me. I love to be free, I love to change my mind whenever I feel like, I love to be flexible about stuff and a personal mission sounded like the most effective way to kill all of this. I always rejected the idea of having a personal mission. Life is something you discover every second, right? So why putting labels on it and build limiting fences?
It took me a lot of hard work and a lot of unhappy experiences to understand the benefits of having a personal mission. It took years of delusion and lying to myself, hundreds of artificial values to invest in and tons of social conditioning to bear. It took almost a lifetime.
Why Having A Personal Mission?
First of all, let’s be clear on one thing: right now I live with a personal mission, but I used to live very comfortable for years without one. It’s not mandatory. It just feels better for me to have one. This is not, by any means, an evangelist post which aims to make you create your personal mission just because it worked for me. It might not work for you. In fact, it might not work for a lot of people. But it worked for me.
So, why having a personal mission?
- Because it subtly gives significantly more substance to my everyday activities.
- Because it brings a lot of coherence and meaning to my everyday activities.
- Because it puts me in perspective: how I’m doing today versus how I’ll be doing 5 years from now.
- Because it makes me do the things I do best and avoid the things I’m not good at.
- Because it creates a personal path that I will follow with joy.
- Because it makes me happy about things I can do and prevent me from being unhappy by doing things I don’t want to do.
- Because it’s keeping my energies focused.
- Because it helps me understand why I’m here and how I can live better.
How To Choose Your Personal Mission?
Well, I don’t know how to choose your personal mission, because that’s your job. But I do know how I chose my personal mission.
I wrote on a piece of paper (actually a word processor, but a piece of paper will do for most of the people) all the things I do. Next to each thing I put a “+” sign if it was a thing I liked and a “-” sign if it was a thing I didn’t like. And I really, really tried not to cheat: I actually put all the things I do, from waking up in the morning and getting myself into an office (well, that was a long time ago 😉 ) till writing articles on my blog, playing with my daughter or hanging out with friends.
I ended up with a huge list. I was writing on it over several days, or even weeks, if I remember well, I think there were about 2-3 weeks of writing on this file. And after I knew the list was complete, I started to do the math: 1 point for each “+” and minus 1 point for each “-“. I was lucky: I ended up with a positive number.
If your number is not positive, you have a problem. You are doing mostly things that you don’t like. It’s better to start addressing that problem ASAP. Finding a personal mission might or might not be the solution, but there is a problem there.
If your number is positive, you’re lucky. You only have to put together all the pluses and see where and how they’re overlapping. For instance, if you have something like: “I write positive blog posts on my blog” and “I like to be helpful to people” you can group those in one single sentence: “I like to be helpful to people by writing positive blog posts on my blog”. It’s not always that easy to group your pluses, so be gentle on yourself, allow several days for this de-duplication process. You may find a lot of irreducible sentences, just write them down. Do that until each and every plus is independently irreducible.
Now that’s your personal mission statement.
How Do I Know Is The Real One?
You don’t. Your personal mission is not set in stone. It’s just a guiding light for your road. It might get higher and more powerful at times, and it might get smaller and fragile some other times. But you’ll at least have the light.
And even if you have the light, it’s not enough: you’ll have to follow it. Even if you have a personal mission statement, one sentence, or one page or several pages long, that’s just some writing on a piece of paper. It has to become more than that, it has to become a habit. It must be integrated into your regular living routine.
The first step is to accept it. It’s your personal mission. You found it. You made a lot of introspection and worked on it for weeks (or days) and you have to accept it. It’s the results of your efforts. There is a very strong desire to let it go after you found it and continue to live like you used to before this. It might be because finding a personal mission could be a funny exercise on your free time and then forgotten. But finding is not enough, you have to really accept it.
The second step is to verify it. You might be wrong, you’re human. Maybe you think you do some stuff, but you really don’t. Confronting your personal mission to your daily habits is a simple way of verifying its accuracy. Maybe you’ll have to make some adjustments along the way. Do them and confront your daily routine again with the new version.
Once accepted and verified, you’ll have to enforce it. That’s not always pleasant because it deals with the things we’ve talked at the beginning of this post: the apparent lack of liberty and flexibility. But it must be done. Enforcing your personal mission statement is in fact just a question of reminding it to you on a daily basis. Just set aside 5 minutes every day to re-read it. Don’t do anything complicated, just re-read it every day. Put a reminder on your phone, send yourself an email or ask a friend to tease you about it. But repeat it as often as you can until it doesn’t sound unusual and distant at all.
And the final step is to live by it. Each and every day. Each and every hour, each end every minute. If it’s your true mission, you won’t feel any limitation at all. On the contrary, you’ll feel a tremendous and unstoppable flow of enthusiasm and joy.
You’ll be the master of your master plan.