Why Should You Have a Personal Mission Statement?
We live in an age of distraction; sometimes, even things that look like opportunities are distractions. How do you stay focused and reach your goals?
It is that time of the year again when you reflect on what happened this year and plan for the next. You are asking yourself, what was I able to achieve this year? You are proud of some small steps and disappointed in the enormous opportunities you let pass. Don't worry; it happens to most of us. We spent too much time on pop-ups instead of focusing on our Most Important Tasks (MITs). We live in an age of sharing requests and opportunities; through SMS, emails, chat messengers, and social media. The platforms provide us with enormous opportunities and give access to thousands of people who ask for our time and attention. And that is where the problem starts. How do you stay focused when the system is designed to make you unabsorbed?
Busy a New Cool
Being busy is being calm. That is what we are being sold. Busy people are being celebrated and worshipped. We are told stories of people who wake up early and sleep only a few hours at night. There is a fine line between being busy and being productive. What you need is not just movement; you need training and direction. When trying to fix our busy schedules, most of us focus on the nitty-gritty of our daily activities. We are busy creating to-do lists and checkboxes on our notebooks or Trello boards. Most of the time, we finish the day with more tasks than how we started the day, and on top of everything feeling dissatisfied with our accomplishments. When you are working on your to-do list, you are working on your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and no company in the world has achieved greatness by ticking their KPIs. Their primary focus is their mission and vision statement. It is what defines their KPIs and what they do daily. What is your mission statement?
What is Your Mission Statement?
All organizations have a mission and vision statement; besides being just statements to serious organizations, it defines where they want to be and how they will reach there. It helps define companies' priorities and reduce (remove) waste by ensuring they stay focused. When you have a personal mission statement, you determine where you want to be and how you will reach there. If your goal is to become the most successful Author, Angel Investor, Husband and Father, defining how you get there matters most above your ticking boxes every day of random stuff, you do hope you will achieve your mission. This extract from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, presented by Michon D. Rogers from Rochester Public Schools, gives you the right questions to ask yourself when crafting your statement. Because of our busy schedules, we rarely have time to observe our careers from a vantage point. And since some of us came from a culture, we rarely have mentors to reflect with. The situation is even worse.
How Do You Craft Your Statement?
Somehow we all know deep down inside what we love to do and who we want to be. We don't pay enough attention to that inner voice for one reason or another. One thing is for sure. It is always fuzzy because of multiple opportunities in our direction and the constant struggle to look like what people want us to be instead of being ourselves. The continuous work of getting public attention to look likeable and acceptable distracts us from doing what we were meant to do. Hence, the last thing you do is define your values.
Who are you, and what do you stand for? What makes you happy and feel satisfied and accomplished? Please write down what version you liked the most. Without social pressure and looking politically correct, who are you? You can boil down your values to three core values you stand for. Let these values build the foundation of your statement.
Your Mission Statement
Look at your mission statement in three levels; Vision Level (Strategical), Pathways Level (Tactical), and Tasks Level (Operational). At the vision level, you are focusing on what you want to achieve, focusing on the most ambitious part of your career and life goals. For example, I want to be Africa's most successful, good-looking Author and Angel Investor. At the pathways level, you define your primary focus areas to achieve your vision. From that statement, three potential pathways can emerge;
- Good-looking — investing more time in living a healthy life to achieve the goal of being a lovely author and investor.
- Successful Author — investing more time in authorship and learning the ways of successful authors.
- Successful Angel Investor — putting more time into Angel Investment and learning the ways of successful angels.
Sometimes your pathways are informed by your current societal role, e.g. a Father, a Community Leader, etc. I don't like this approach since sometimes it pushes you to create pathways because of external pressures instead of what you want to do and achieve. Once you are evident at the vision and pathways levels, you can start setting up specific sub-goals within your pathways to help you achieve your core mission from your mission statement. The sub-goals should inform your routine activities. For example, the sub-goals to become a successful Angel Investor from our example above can be;
- I am joining a vibrant angel network.
- I am making 2–3 deals per year.
- I am attending 2–3 online courses on Angel Investment works.
- I am listening to podcasts on Angel Investment, etc.
Whatever approach you take to reach your mission statement, always ensure you start from the top down, from the vision statement to daily (routine) tasks, not vice-versa. It is easy to get distracted by pop-ups and social pressure, so I advise against using your regular work to define your mission statement.
Choosing Your Mentor
It would be best if you chose your mentor early. It should be someone fitting the portfolio of your mission statement — a good-looking author and Angel Investor. This person can be anyone, but they should be as close as possible to your goal. They can be available physically at your localities or someone who inspires you by reading books or listening to the news on what they do and achieve. For example, I want to be a successful investor, technologist and philanthropist. My virtual mentor is Robert F. Smith, Chairperson of Vista Equity Partners, LLC. I like his entrepreneurial journey, how he built an empire, supported and created opportunities for the "Black Community" in the US, etc. I watch his works, read his articles, listen to his interviews, etc. Who is your mentor? You have to be clear about what qualities you like the most about that person and what you can practically gain from them.
Drafting Your Statement
The next step is to draft your statement. Your statement should be ambitious and timeless, and you work hard to achieve it in quarter two of next year. It should create multiple pathways to reach your goal and define daily activities. The statement should inspire you and demand your best to achieve it. As wide as it might be, it should be measurable and focused. You can see the questions to validate your statement on the tool I shared from the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People after you can finally write your mission statement.
How to Remain Focus
Writing a mission statement is one thing. , and staying focused and accurate about it is another thing. Your most significant resource is ti, and how you manage your time will help you achieve the goals defined in your mission statement. See how you can manage your time here.