Personal mission development is about focusing yourself on the dent in the universe you want to make.
Men and women who have a strong sense of who they are shape the world, both at a local and a global level. People such as Richard Branson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Majora Carter, Tony Robbins, Ghandi, Sorrel Wilby, Anita Roddick, Christopher Reeve, Janine Shepherd and many more are all people who have a clear sense of who they are, use their natural skills and talents, and take regular inspired action to make a difference in the world.
The real point of the exercise is to consider how you show up in the world, so that you live a flourishing life.
It doesn't necessarily mean you'll end up doing a different job to the one you are doing now! It means you have taken the time to ensure that you live with deliberate intent, using values and principles that give your life context and meaning.
Living Purposefully simply means that in each moment you are present enough to be, for example, a kind and loving parent, or to be a fair and just leader, or to give hope to another, by saying a kind word to a person in trouble.
Personal Mission Development - Some Things to Keep In Mind
Spending time answering these personal mission development questions enables you to craft a Purposeful Living Statement. But do be mindful of these points:
- Your Purposeful Living Statement provides the direction in which you are heading - it is not the destination.
- Many of the questions that you are answering whilst undertaking the personal mission development exercise can lead to the development of something that is grand and huge. But, your Purposeful Living Statement doesn't have to be about changing the world. It just has to be big enough to change YOUR world.
- Be true to yourself and your desires - this is about living a life that is significant and satisfies YOU. There is no need to be influenced by what you think society, your partner, your parents or anyone else would think is appropriate.
- It should excite you and focus you toward consciously using your talents, enabling you to be the person you can be - so that in your twilight years you will feel that your life was well-lived and that you made a dent in the universe.
- It may take some months, (if not years), to capture exactly the essence of how you want your life to be lived. This is a living document, life is work in progress! (My personal mission has continued to evolve and change - and at times quite dramatically, as my thinking has evolved and matured)
There are three hungers which you will attempt to feed throughout your life.
The Three Hungers In Life
- The first is to regularly connect with that part of you that creates universes - your Source Energy.
- The second is to know and express your unique gifts and talents. Each and every person seems to know/feel, they have something to contribute to the greater good of humanity. When you discover how to use your unique gifts and talents on a daily basis, you will live a much happier and more fulfilled life.
- The third is to know that your life matters. Everyone wants to leave behind some kind of legacy; to know that the time that you have spent on this planet meant something ... that you made a dent.
Let's start by exploring the third hunger.
Personal Mission Development Step One: Live A Fulfilling Life
If you die tomorrow, then the purpose of your life has been realized. The reality is your time here is limited - and few of us want to pass to the other side feeling unfulfilled! Sadly for many, life is spent in a haze with little deliberate intent and no sense of purpose: drifting from one set of life conditions and circumstances to another.
Richard Leider from the Inventure Group, interviewed more than 1,000 people who'd had distinguished careers in high profile companies. He asked them to look back over their lives and talk about what they learned. He found (almost without exception):
- If they could live their life over, they would be more reflective. They got so caught up in 'doing', that they often lost sight of the meaning. Usually it took a crisis for them to look at their lives in perspective, and try to re-establish the context. Looking back, they wish they had stopped at regular intervals, to look at the big picture. They sounded a warning: Life Picks Up Speed. Time is the most precious currency in life, and as they got older having time for reflection became even more important.
- If they could live their lives over, they would take more risks. In relationships, they would have been more courageous. And in expressing their creative side, they would have taken more chances. It was Oliver Wendell Holmes who said, "Most of us go to our graves with our music still inside us." Many of these people felt that, despite their successes, their music was still inside them. Almost all of them said, that they felt most alive when they took risks. Just being busy from business made them numb. Aliveness came with learning, growing, stretching, exploring.
- If they could live their lives over again, they would understand what really gave them fulfillment. This is what Richard calls "The Power of Purpose": doing something that contributes to life, adding value to life beyond yourself, beyond your ego, or your financial self-interest. When you make the feeling of fulfillment high on your priority list, it makes it easy to decide if the actions you are taking, on a daily basis, are the right ones or not.
So that you don't get to the end of your life and ask, "Is this all there is?", you need to pay attention to the impact of your decisions. You cannot expect to do things, that don't genuinely matter to you, and feel fulfilled with your life.
If you want to, use these questions to begin now to decide how to live your deliberately so that your life feels fulfilling.
Personal Mission Development Step Two: Identify Your Talents/Passions/Strengths/Values?
Let's move on to the second hunger, discovering your unique talents and gifts.
We are each born with a set of innate talents. For example, my daughter is innately good at gymnastics. Within 7 weeks of starting gymnastics she had won the state title for her level. The key to a talent is that you have it regardless of whether you ever choose to use it or not (Week 12 she decided she didn't enjoy gymnastics, and refused to go any more).
Completing this step will enable you to re-craft your life and your job to make the most possible use of your strengths. For example, when I was working at Colgate-Palmolive I was able to re-design my job so that it focused primarily on the development of the people in the organization. Something I loved to do and is a true strength for me.
Regularly making use of your innate talents and strengths means you find that your days will be filled with much more flow. Flow is that experience of when time stands still and you suddenly realize how absorbed and happy you were during the time that you were utilizing that strength or talent.
Ready to begin identifying your talent/passions?
Personal Mission Development Step Three: Connected With Source Energy
Finally, to the first hunger - to consistently connect with your source energy and make use of the universal power that flows through you.
Can you recall a time when you felt absolute peace, love, clarity, inspiration and/or exhilaration?
Those are moments when you were absolutely tapped into your Source Energy.
Don't we all wish that we could have more of those moments of pure bliss? Well it really is quite easy - I've been mindful of wanting to feel this way on a regular and consistent basis - so I've taken the steps shown over here in the purposeful living exercise.
Don't make the mistake of thinking you have to live blissed out at all times. That isn't realistic nor part of why we are here. Through listening to Abraham and understanding the law of attraction, you will discover that contrast is a good thing - because it helps us to grow both ourselves and the universe.
Personal Mission Development Step Four: Draft your Personal Mission Statement
At this point you may want to write your first draft Personal Mission Statement. This certainly won't be your final draft - as mentioned earlier life is work in progress, and you will find it will constantly evolves. A couple of simple guidelines:
- Try to keep to a single sentence with less than 30 words, so that if your life depends upon it you can remember it
- A 12-year-old should understand your Purposeful Living Statement
As an example here is my current Purposeful Living Statement:
"I live to flourish, so that I inspire leaders to live, love and lead at a remarkable level so we can each make the dent in the universe that is in our hearts.
It doesn't define "what I am going to do" it simply defines what is important to me and how I want to show up in the world - this enables me the freedom and flexibility to go where I am inspired (both physically, mentally and emotionally) and enables me to feed my three hungers.
Once you understand your purpose in life, the key is to align it with all parts of your life -- your personal life, your work life, your community.
Acting with clear purpose means you no longer feel tired and out of whack. Living a life of congruence and alignment, expressing who you truly are as fully as possible is true success. That makes for a life worth living.
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