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If the Pot was Boiling Would You Even Notice?

 

There’s an old tale that says if a frog is placed in a pot of boiling water it would immediately jump out but if it’s placed in a pot with room temperature water that’s slowly turned up it won’t perceive the difference and can be boiled alive.
I don’t know if the story is true because I’ve never wanted to harm a frog just to find out. True or not, it illustrates a common reality that sometimes change happens so gradually we find ourselves in an unintended place before we realize what’s happened.
This is top of mind because over the past month I’ve had the opportunity to spend a day with four different interns at State Auto. I thoroughly enjoy those days every summer because their wide-eyed excitement is invigorating. During our time together I give them insight into our sales coaching, sales training and how to ethically persuade people.
As important as those topics are, I think the most valuable thing I talk about with them is their future. When I do this I always share something I’ve regularly said was one of the most impacting things I’ve ever done – writing a personal mission statement.
Although I wrote about this four years ago I felt compelled to reexamine the topic again. You can view my mission statement here.
When it comes to our careers it’s so easy for us to be like the frog in the room temperature water. Everything starts off okay and slowly but surely things change. Our 40-hour week becomes 45 then 50, but we hardly notice. We begin to work most Saturday mornings and that starts to stretch into Sunday. After all, we’re highly productive so we’re given more responsibility. We know if we keep performing we’ll get that next promotion and we already have lots of plans for the extra money we’ll make. We justify the need for nicer things because we’re working so hard and therefore deserve a bigger house, nicer car, new furniture, etc.
We tell ourselves those good things are for our spouse, kids or other family members. But in the process we start to miss the Little League games, school activities and other important events. In the grand scheme of life they’re not that big a deal – well, maybe not that big to you but that’s probably not the case for your kids or spouse. Sure, they “understand,” but secretly they wish you’d choose them over work.
Then comes the day that Harry Chapin famously sang about in “Cat’s in the Cradle.” Your loved ones decline the offer to spend time with you because they have other activities that are now more important to them. You’re hurt and disappointed. You feel like they don’t appreciate all you’ve done for them. The problem is, you never really knew what they wanted. The water is boiling and you can’t do anything about it.
How does a personal mission statement help? It makes you sit down today and consider the end. What kind of person do you want to become? How do you want to be remembered? When it’s all said and done what do you want out of life?
I told a friend recently how I’d gone to a Christmas party last year at a beautiful home. When I saw the ornate decorations in this huge home my gut reaction was, “What am I doing wrong that I can’t give this to my family?” The good news is, the thought didn’t even last a minute. I quickly came to my senses and realized, where I am in life is exactly where I’ve chosen to be.
You see, my mission statement clearly says my priorities are faith, family, personal wellbeing, then my career. Now, for those who know me, between my day job as a sales coach/trainer for State Auto and my activities with Influence PEOPLE, I work a lot. However, I construct my day so those things don’t take away from my family. As I write this on a Tuesday evening, Jane and Abigail are at work so I’m not taking any time away from them.
I start my weekdays at 4 a.m. because I don’t what to give up other things I love like reading, working out and running. I could use those extra morning hours to climb the corporate ladder but that would mean giving up time I can devote to other things I’ve said are more important.
I encourage you to take a look at the blog post I wrote about “The Value of a Personal Mission Statement.” It might be a trigger for you to do something similar. The strongest thing I can say to encourage you is that writing a personal mission statement was one of the most impacting activities I’ve ever undertaken.
P.S. I thought you’d find this interesting. As I was writing this post Abigail came home and wanted to go for a walk. Rather than choose to finish this post I took a break and went with her. I know most teenagers don’t ask their parents to do things with them and before I know it she’ll be out of the house and I’ll long for these days. A choice like this was easy because I set my priorities more than 20 years ago when I wrote my mission statement.
Brian Ahearn, CMCT®
Chief Influence Officer
influencePEOPLE 
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

 

The Value of a Personal Mission Statement

Last week I concluded with a teaser about my personal mission statement so this week I’m going to address the topic and share with you my personal mission statement, or life plan, as some call it.

Back in the early ’90s, I read Steven Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and it really resonated with me. I often tell people, after The Bible the most impacting book I’ve ever read is The 7 Habits. I’m not saying it’s the best book – I’ve read others I enjoyed more – only that it was the most impacting. The impact came because I took the step to write a personal mission statement. Now, each day a part of my mission statement pops up in a task in my daily planner, Microsoft Outlook. Having read it now for 15 plus years, I’ve reinforced who I am, who I’m trying to become and what’s most important in my life.

If you’ve not written your own mission statement I cannot encourage you enough to do so. I’ll go so far as to say it could be one of the most important things you ever do because it’s something that will serve as a guide throughout your life. The mission statement idea is presented in Covey’s book in a chapter entitled, “Begin with the End in Mind.” I’ll leave it to you to read the book, or at least that chapter, so you can write your own plan.

I think a mission statement can help you be more influential in several ways:

  • Writing something down like this will help you stay accountable to what you say is most important and that accountability is ramped up if you share your mission statement with others. When you’re consistent, people come to rely on you which adds to your credibility, a component of authority.
  • Most people I interview never write down their goals let alone have a plan for their life. If you’re ever interviewing for a job and you hand the interviewer a personal mission statement you’ll certainly impress them. I think sharing mine helped me land the job I have today.
  • If you happen to share it with someone who has similar goals or world view then you’re likely to befriend that person because you’ve touched on the principle of liking.

Below is my life plan. It’s not for everyone so yours could look totally different and that’s okay because we’re all different.

My Chief Aim in Life: 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” (Matt 25:21).

In order to make this a reality I will focus on four main areas of my life. Each area, while distinctly different, overlaps with the other areas. I want to focus on my spiritual life, my family, myself as an individual and my career.

Spiritual: I want to have a close intimate relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ and I want this relationship to be the priority in my life. I want to live a life that’s consistent with Biblical principles. I will seek to do this by striving for Christ-like qualities, knowing that while I cannot completely achieve them because I am human, I will be rewarded. I want to be a good listener. Finally, I want to reach out to others sharing Biblical love and truth.

Family: I want to make my family my priority second only to my relationship with God. I want to love and honor my wife Jane, building her up so she can become the spiritual being God intends for her to be. I want to meet her needs to the best of my ability and help her live a happy and fulfilled life. I want to strive to give unconditional love to Jane and Abigail, as well as other members of my extended family. I want to create a home environment where each person in my family 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, not compromising myself but standing firm on my beliefs as outlined in my personal mission statement; be open to change and accept when I’m wrong; continue to develop in the areas of loving, learning and relationships; smile, laugh and show my emotions more; I do not want to be controlled by anyone or anything other than God and need to remember I always have free will and therefore a choice in all matters; I want strive first to understand others, then seek to be understood; to be a leader and role model for others.

Career: I want Christ to be the centerpiece for all that I do at work; I want to give my best effort to whatever task is laid before me; be remembered for making my workplace better for having been there in both 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. Last, 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.

So there you have it. You now know more about me than you may have cared to know. I encourage you to take a similar step in your own life. Trust me, you will be glad you did.

Brian
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”