Tuesday, 25 November 2014

How To Find Your Mission

  1. Begin with the right question. Don’t ask yourself, “What do I want to do with my life?” That is, don’t focus on a career. That would be strategy, not a mission. Instead, ask yourself, “What kind of value feels like the most important value I could create?”
  2. You’re after meaningfulness not passion. Thought the two are by no means mutually exclusive, they are distinct. Passion is usually more associated with the strategies you use to fulfill your mission (with sculpting, for example, rather than with a mission to fill the world with beauty).
  3. Create a list of 50 things that have brought you great joy in the past and 50 ongoing activities that continue to bring you great joy in the present. The point in aiming for 100 items isn’t to reach 100 per se but to create an exhaustive list. Including your current job is a good idea; including the aspects of your current job that you enjoy the most is even better.
  4. From this list, identify the items that felt the most meaningful to you. This is best done by gut feeling. Each item you select should, by definition, be something that in some broad way contributes to the well-being of others.
  5. Group these items into related categories. Maybe a number of items relate to helping others in a particular way (e.g., with their health, with their talents, or with their relationships). Or maybe to helping people in certain situations (e.g., people living in poverty, who are victims of abuse, or who suffer from mental illness).
  6. From these categories, cull out a first draft of a mission statement. Two things to keep in mind: This must be a statement derived from experiences you’ve already had, not ones you’d like to have. You’re looking to discover your mission, not invent it (that is, to find what’s already there, what already feels like the most important thing you could do with your life, not what you think it is or want it to be). Second, one reasonable litmus test to apply to a candidate statement would entail imagining being presented a lifetime achievement award in your 80s or 90s by the president for having spent your entire life accomplishing it. Does the statement you’ve come up with hit the sweet spot? That is, when you gut check it, does it feel like the most meaningful thing you could have done?

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