I want to share with you the best career choice, actually life choice, I ever made. This was brought to mind when I was listening to Patrick Leddin, Ph.D., host of The Leadership Lab Podcast, interview Karen Dillon. Karen coauthored How Will You Measure Your Life with the late Clayton Christensen.
The conversation brought me back to something I did more than 25 years ago after reading Steven Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey had a chapter called “Begin with the End in Mind.” In that section of the book he encouraged readers to see themselves at their own funeral and then ask; what would I want people to say about me?
How you want to be remembered is the goal. Once that’s established, build a plan – a personal mission statement – that you can use to focus your activities and measure your life against.
I’ve reviewed mine, or at least parts of it, daily for the past 25 years. After that long it’s seeped into my subconscious and almost without thinking, begins to guide my actions.
I also shared it with my wife, my daughter when she was older, my boss and people at work whom I was leading. I gave them all permission to call me out if I was not living up to what I aspired to.
Below is my mission statement, which has only been modified slightly since I originally penned it. Yes, I wrote the original using pen and paper!
My Personal Mission Statement
MY WHY: When I leave this earth and stand in the presence of the Lord, I hope to hear, “Well done good and faithful servant: you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:21)
In pursuit of my why, I will focus on my spiritual growth, my family, myself as an individual and my career.
SPIRITUAL: I want an intimate relationship with God through His Son Jesus. I want this relationship to be the priority in my life. I will live a life that’s consistent with biblical principles by looking to Jesus as my example. I will share Biblical love and truth with others in word and deed.
FAMILY: I will make my family my priority second only to my relationship with God. I will love and honor my wife Jane and daughter Abigail, building them up so they can become the people God intends them to be. I want to meet their needs to the best of my ability and help them live happy, fulfilled lives. I will strive to give unconditional love to Jane and Abigail, as well as other members of my family. I want to create a home environment where family members can come to me in times of need and develop to their fullest potential. I want to earn my family’s respect and be the kind of husband and father they can be proud of.
PERSONAL: I want to like who God created me to be; respect myself; maintain a balance between my mental and physical health; live my life with integrity by standing firm on my beliefs as outlined in this mission statement. I want to be open to change and accept when I’m wrong; be a good listener; continue to develop in the areas of loving, learning and relationships; smile, laugh and show my emotions more. I will not allow myself to be controlled by anyone or anything other than God because I have free will and therefore a choice in all matters. I will seek to understand others before trying to be understood. I want to be a leader and role model. I will always strive to be the best I can be at whatever I do by taking the long view, realizing growth comes day by day.
CAREER: I want Christ to be the centerpiece for all that I do at work. I will give my best effort to whatever task is given to me. I will focus on helping others achieve success and happiness. I hope to be remembered for making my workplace better for having been there in a productive and personal sense; obtain satisfaction from my chosen career; be fair and honest while remaining firm and decisive; remember the people involved; earn the trust, respect and confidence of those I work with; continue to develop personally and seek new challenges.
Finally, I need to remember that I work to live, I don’t live to work. Therefore, I will never sacrifice my spiritual, personal or my family’s well-being at the expense of my career.
To Do This Week
I hope what I shared inspires you to do something similar because it’s such a worthwhile exercise. If it does, here are some steps you might want to consider:
- Pick up How Will You Measure Your Life or The 7 Habits.
- After reading, set aside time to think and write.
- Once you have your document, share it with a few key people. Do this for accountability and to inspire those others to do something similar.
- Post the document somewhere you can routinely see it. The act of writing is only the first step. You need to see it continually to serve as a reminder.
Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the planet on the science of ethical influence.
Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was name one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by Book Authority. His LinkedIn Learning courses on sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 100,000 people around the world.