5. Mastering Your Life Mission

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Clarity on your personal life mission is one of the most powerful things we can do to insure a life of real meaning and significance.

Once you have defined your personal values you need to determine how your LIFE MISSION will represent those values. Your personal mission statement defines the impact you want your life to have on this world — the overall purpose for your life. It describes who you want to be and what you want to do in your life.

There are a lot of people who go to work day-in and day-out, putting in long hours of hard work, who never feel any personal connection with their work, much less any personal reward. They feel dissatisfied, directionless, without purpose. They don’t have all of the elements of their lives working together toward a common purpose.

If you have ever experienced absolute joy and satisfaction in the midst of circumstances, a project, or other opportunity, prompting you to say, at least in your heart, “I was made for this,” then you understand what it’s like to discover your purpose or what some might call your calling.

When you live your life with a clear purpose, you have the direction you need to make wise choices, judge important issues in your life and live life with overflowing joy and passion. The goal is for you to know the answer to a couple critical questions like: Why am I here? What is the purpose of my life on this earth?

The most effective thing anyone or anything can engage in is the ultimate purpose for which it is created. Doing what something was meant to do results in great outcomes. And if you are the one who is the designer or creator of something, it brings you a lot of joy when that thing you created is used for its intended purpose.

I personally believe that there is a God who created me and the good things I see around me. And I think that my Creator takes great joy in seeing the work of his hands skillfully performing the functions for which He made them.

Some of the most renowned scientists in the world who may not believe in a personal God, still point to the reality that there is clear evidence of intelligence design. That there is some master designer behind everything we see in the natural world. That things were created for a purpose and things generally work best when the fulfill the purpose for which they are created. If that is true of everything from the tiniest atom that predictably performs the purpose it was designed to perform. And it is true of the huge stars and planets in our solar system that consistently perform the purpose for which they were designed. Why wouldn’t it be true that we as human beings might each find our way to a powerful purpose for which we are ideally designed to accomplish?

Unlike atoms and stars or even animals, we as humans have freedom of choice and many motivations and distractions that can sidetrack us from finding or living out a unique design for our life.

I believe that there is placed within each and every person unique gifts, passions and talents that are clues to specific purposes for which we are well designed. And I personally believe that God is a good God and therefore he surely wouldn’t make us for a great purpose and then not reveal that purpose to us.

What is a Personal Mission Statement?

A personal mission statement simply captures an overriding theme or direction that is probably already present in your life. It puts down in words the real work that you are here to do: the cause you will pursue, the wound in individuals or society you want to heal, the problem you will devote your life to fixing. It states the highest, purest, most others-oriented aim of your life.

A personal mission statement is like a constitution by which you make all decisions for your life. The more you check in with it, the smoother things run. But, hopefully we at least check in with our personal mission statement when we are making decisions about new directions for our life. Ideally you want to write a mission statement that you will remember easily, check often, and speaks to YOU as an individual.

Trying different things can be a valuable part of the process of beginning to understand the specific purposes for your life. But keep in mind that your life mission is broader than your vocation. Your purpose is broader than any position you may have at any point in time. Your purpose is what will fill your position with meaning and fulfillment. Your position is just the platform by which you will live your purpose. Your career is just the vehicle by which you can express your calling. In fact, as you discover your life purpose you may be surprised to find that whatever business or career you are in now (even if currently mundane or even downright boring) could take on completely new meaning as you find ways to live your purpose even in your current vocation.

In doing this with people over the years I have found that some people with a clarity on personal mission find that this breathes whole new purpose and meaning into their existing business or career. Or you may find that clarity of your life purpose will lead you over time to choose a different vocation or business that more effectively allows you fuller expression of your life purpose. But the reality is that most people can find ways to live out their life purpose in any occupation. In fact, I have seen people live out the same purpose in several different jobs over time...from truck driver, preacher to plumber.

You can call it a credo, a philosophy, you may call it a purpose statement, or a personal mission statement. it's not as important as to what you call it. What’s important is that you end up with some written statement that describes your current best understanding of what you see as the ideal ultimate outcome for your life...the legacy you want to leave...the contribution for good that you want to make on this world.

Benefits of a Personal Mission Statement

- Clarifies what is important to YOU

- Provides focus

- Helps you design YOUR life, instead of having it designed for you

- Guides your day-to-day decisions

- Helps you understand, clarify, and put into action your values

- Gives you a greater sense of meaning and purpose

Most have heard of the importance of beginning with the end in mind. In our lives, the most effective way to begin with the end in mind is to develop a mission statement that focuses what you want to be in terms of character and what you want to contribute to this world by the end of your life. When you live your life with a clear purpose, you have the direction you need to make wise choices, and judge important issues in your life.

What Keeps People From Defining and Living a Magnificent Mission?

Other voices- By the age of 18 today, young adults have taken in more than 10 million discreet marketing messages from highly sophisticated marketing companies seeking to convince you that you need a product or service. In this noisy culture, it's hard to remain clear about who you are. Other voices come from within. Maybe you hear the voice of a parent bouncing around in your head saying you don’t measure up or you can’t do anything right. Or maybe an important voice is missing from your past. Or the voice of a coach or teach who in a moment of frustration say you wouldn’t amount to anything. Those voices, those messages that play in your brain can prevent you from hearing the good voice about a good future and a powerful purpose for your life.

What voice are you listening to now? It is critical to learn to distinguish the good voice in your mind that speaks of a good future for you...from all those of other voices.

Fear - The number one passion killer. Whether it is fear of the unknown or from the past. Maybe you hear the voice of a parent or failing, we often stop before we every start considering what we could become passionate about.

Focus - If you can’t find passion in all your activity it may be that it is buried in being busy! Being busy doing a ton of good work can be the greatest enemy of benefiting the world with the greatest work you could do.

So take the time to think beyond where you are now and what you are doing now. Drop the fear of failure. Take the time to think deeply about what your life could be like if you were living life to its full potential with maximum purpose and fulfillment. Once you become clear about and committed to your personal purpose that becomes more powerful more significant, more influential, than the baggage of the past, or the noise of your present circumstances.

Process to Develop Your Personal Mission

Let me start with some basic guidelines: First, understand that creating a mission statement is not something you do in an hour. It takes deep introspection, careful analysis, thoughtful expression, and often many rewrites to produce it in final form. One of the best ways to get started is to take a half day to a day of solitude and silence to just really make space to reflect and listen. Most of us don’t need more information, we just need to make space and time for reflection. And if you believe in God, I would say...time and space to let God to speak to us.

Do this in a large block of time to get started and then in your daily meditation and journaling you will get more direction over time. Even then, it may take you several weeks or even months before you feel really comfortable with your mission statement, before you feel it is complete and 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 additional insights or changing circumstances.

The Purpose Factors Exercise

A personal mission statement is impacted by and takes into consideration eight areas that I call purpose factors.

The eight factors in determining your life purpose are your core values, your personal strengths, your special gifts or natural talents, your life experience, your passions, your dreams, the current needs of culture and your skills.

Core Values:

What kind of person do you want to become? What character traits do you want to possess? What values do you want to be known. What you want to become and what you want to accomplish should be based on the core values you have identified? Make sure your values are the foundation of your personal mission statement.

Values are the non-negotiable principle that will guide the way you go about living your life purpose.

Personal Strengths:

Understanding your unique “wiring” that shapes how you process information, communicate, deal with risk and contribute to others. Personality profiles (like DISC or Leading from your Strengths or Strengthsfinder) can give you insight into personal strengths you could leverage to help you be most effective at living out your purpose. Find ways to live your purpose that are a match with your personality and core behavioral strengths.

What is your personality like? What are your core behavioral strengths? How do these personal strengths play into forming or fulfilling your personal mission? What assessments have you taken?

Personal strengths help you know what behavior style will be most effective and fulfilling and sustainable in how you live out your life purpose.

Special Gifts and Talents:

What are the exceptional talents that you have that just seem to come natural to you? Some people call these spiritual gifts because they often seem to be strengths that you were almost born with in a supernatural kind of way. Or they are like natural talents that just come out of you in almost a spiritual kind of way because it seems easy to you. Other people look at you doing that thing and say, “Wow, that’s amazing how you do that!”, and to you it just seems natural and normal.

When you understand the special giftings you have then you get an insight into the unique ways that you can contribute to others. These are skill or action based strengths like the natural ability to be great at teaching, giving, leading, showing mercy, administration, faith, etc. If you haven’t taken a special gifts inventory, go online and take one of the many free spiritual gifts assessments.

What are the exceptional talents that you have that just seem to come natural to you? How do these play into guiding or helping you accomplish your personal mission?

Spiritual Gifts define the supernatural empowering methods you will use to live out your purpose.

Life Experiences:

What are some of the experiences that have shaped your life? To understand your unique life purpose you must be clear about who you are, both in terms of your inborn behavioral strengths as well as the how the experiences of life have shaped you and prepared you for some purpose. Learn to understand the “parable of your life”. Become aware of your personal journey including situations that have caused pain and loss as well as those that have caused great joy and abundance. I had a purpose coach one time that told me to do a timeline of your life and make note of key milestones, important people, times of great joy and times of great pain and times you heard some clarity about what was really important in your life. Was amazing to reflect back on these things and then think about How might all of these life experiences be used to prepare you or focus you in a powerful purpose for your life?

What are some of the experiences that have shaped your life? How might all of these life experiences be used to prepare you or focus you in a powerful purpose for your life?

Life experiences prepare you and focus you on a unique purpose for your life.

For example, maybe you experienced abuse as a child and because of this you have deep compassion for abused children. Or maybe you had an amazing teacher as a child that changed and redirected your life for the better gave you a deep appreciation for the power of mentoring children.

Passions:

What do you care deeply about? What would I love to do on a daily basis that gives me energy? What would I be doing if money were not a factor? What makes your heart sing and what makes it weep? What lights you up and what energizes you? What makes you get of your chair so you can’t sit still anymore? What is wrong with the world that drives you crazy?

Passionate discontent can lead you to your place of divine calling. That extreme joy you feel at certain times can lead you to your place of powerful purpose.

Your passions help you know where to live out your calling and provide motivation or energy to excel at it. Passion moves us to action where we bring what we have to offer…our strengths, gifts, experiences, skills etc.

For example, if I am passionate about children and have the gift of mercy it might indicate that my life purpose has something to do with showing mercy to children. Working with children, (my passion) will give me the motivation and energy to excel at showing them mercy. But if my primary gift is leadership and my passion is children, then it might indicate that I need to find a way to lead an organization that does something valuable for children.

Understanding your personal strengths and skills can lead you into an understanding of where you will excel as you look for your ideal life purpose. But it is not the fuel that keeps you moving forward. You need to discover your passion. Many people are skilled at what they do but would rather be doing something else that they are more passionate about so never really reach their full potential. If you are not fulfilled and passionate about what you do, you will not perform at your maximum capacity.

Dreams:

What do you want to accomplish in your life? What dreams do you want to fulfill?

Your dreams of what you would love to accomplish inform you of the outcomes that God may want to see fulfilled in your life purpose.

Following the example above, do you dream of children being free from hunger or free from sex slavery or free from poverty? Or do you dream of providing and safe, comfortable home for every child?

Current Culture and Needs:

What is the current culture surrounding you? What are the needs surrounding you?

Your life mission will take place in the culture, the generation and even the community in which you were born. So interpreting the situations and events taking place around us is just as important as understanding what goes on inside us. When your life purpose intersects with the deep needs in people around you, powerful results take place. Frederick Buechner says, “The place God calls you is where your deep gladness and the world’s hunger meet.” Take some time to open your eyes and your heart to the reality that your life has a powerful purpose in this time and in this place in history. YOU are a key part of the plan to make this world a better place at this point in earth’s history!

What are the needs you see and care about in the current culture surrounding you? How does the current culture and needs influence your personal mission?

Current culture and needs is the context in which you are placed that provides clues to the powerful world changing purposes that you could fulfill at this point in time in history and in this place.

For example, if you are deeply connected in a major city or community where child sex slavery is rampant, then this might give you an indication of your life purpose.

Skills:

What are you really good at? What do you do that regularly produces good outcomes?

What are some skills that you recognize that you are really good at and what might that say about your life mission?

Your skills give you ideas for how you can be most effective in getting something done that is of importance to your purpose.

For example, if you are really good at marketing and advertising then maybe the way you go about solving sex slavery will leverage this skill to reduce problem by huge public awareness that gets a whole city involved in your cause.

Write down your answers to the questions in these eight purpose factors. Then analyze your answers for common themes and synergies that will give you valuable insight into the highest and best use of your life.

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