In your mind’s eye, see yourself going to the funeral of a loved one. As you walk into the chapel, notice the flowers, the soft organ music. You see the faces of friends and family; you feel the shared sorrow of losing, the joy of having known. As you reach the front of the room and look inside the casket, you suddenly come face to-face with yourself. This is your funeral, three years from now. Take a seat and look down at the program in your hand. The first speaker is from your extended family; the second is a close friend; the third is an acquaintance from your business life; the fourth is from your church or some community-service organization where you’ve worked. What character would you like each of these speakers to have seen in you – what difference would you like to have made in their lives?
It means to know where you’re going so as to understand where you are now, and take your next step in the right direction. It’s easy to get caught up in an activity trap in the busyness of life, to work harder and harder at climbing the ladder of success only to discover it’s leaning against the wrong wall. We may be very efficient by working frenetically and heedlessly, but we will be effective only when we begin with the end result in mind.
The best way to start is to develop a personal mission statement. It describes what we want to be (character) and to do (achievements).
You could call a personal mission statement a sort of written constitution – its power lies in the fact that it’s fundamentally changeless. The key to living with change is retaining a sense of who you are and what you value.
Start developing your mission statement, from a core of principles. All of us are drawn away from real effectiveness when we make our center something other than our principles.
Thriving on change requires a core of changeless values.
Being spouse centered might seem natural and proper. But experience tells a different story. Over the years, It has been called on to help many troubled marriages; the complete emotional dependence that goes with being spouse centered often makes both partners so vulnerable to each other’s moods that they become resentful.
The self-esteem of someone money centered can’t weather the ups and downs of economic life; money-centered people often put aside family or other priorities, assuming everyone willunderstand that economic demands come first. They don’t always, and we can damage our most important relationships by thinking that they do.
Being pleasure centered cheats one of lasting satisfactions. Too much time spent at leisure, on the paths of least resistance, insure that our mind and spirit become lethargic, and our heart unfulfilled.
We want to center our lives on correct principles. Unlike other centers based on people and things subject to frequent change, correct principles don’t change. We can depend on them. Your mission statement may take you some weeks to write, from first draft to final form; it’s a concise expression of your innermost values and directions. Even then, you will want to review it regularly and make minor changes as the years bring new insights. Be guided by Victor Frankl, who says we detect rather than invent our mission in life:
“Everyone has his own specific vocation in life. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated.”
Organizations need mission statements. So do families, so that they do not simply lurch from emotional crisis to crisis – but instead know they have principles that will support them. The key is to have each member of the group contribute ideas and words to the final product that contribution alone generates real commitment.
References: 7 Habits of highly Effective People