As 2016 comes to a close, many of us will engage in the time honored tradition of making New Year's resolutions. We'll promise that this is the year to stop smoking, lose weight, exercise more, spend more time with family and friends, find a new job, get a promotion, tackle a new hobby, or finally engage in all those home improvement projects. Sadly, only 8% of us (according to Statistics Brain) will be successful in those resolutions.
Don't be a statistic. Don't make resolutions.
Wait. Did I just tell you to give up? Did I just say that you should live an unfulfilled life? No! I said don't make resolutions. This year, make a plan that will work - a personal strategic plan.
Most people want to change something in their lives, but they don't often think through how to go about making those changes. Making a life change as big as a career move or a lifestyle adjustment requires a thoughtful approach. It's a time consuming endeavor, but you'll get lasting results. And there is no better investment than investing in yourself and your happiness.
The first thing you have to do is identify what is most important to you - not the changes that you want to make, but what you hold most dear. This is your life's purpose, your hopes and dreams. It's about what you value most. You can't make a plan to go forward until you know where you want to be.
Just as a company has a mission statement to guide its short- and long-term plans, creating a personal mission statement can help you to provide direction in your life. So grab a notebook, take out a pencil, and write down your answers to the following questions:
- Where do you want to see yourself in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?
- What does that look like personally? Professionally? Spiritually?
- What do you want to accomplish? How do you want to make a difference?
- What do you need to be happy - truly happy?
Spend some time wrestling with these questions. Really mull them over. Sleep on it, and then mull them over some more. When you feel happy with your answers, try to take your answers and put them into a single statement. One sentence that sums it all up clearly and concisely. You want it to be simple enough that it can be flexible to grow with you and that it can be applied to all areas of your life.
You may find the template below useful to get you started.
"My purpose is to utilize ________ to accomplish/contribute to ________ in order to achieve _________."
You may also wish to see how some women leaders have crafted their own personal mission statements.
- Denise Morrison, CEO of the Campbell Soup Company - "To serve as a leader, live a balanced life, and apply ethical principles to make a significant difference."
- Katie Arnold, CEO of Talk Less, Say More - "To constantly be striving to be the best version of myself - in my job, with my health and fitness, with my relationships with family and friends, and with my emotional well-being."
- Amy Ziari, CEO of Pasta - "To live life with integrity and empathy, and be a positive force in the lives of others."
Take some time to reflect on the statement that you've written. Does it inspire you? Can you envision yourself leading a life that reflects your mission? Revise it until you are truly happy with it. It's going to be very important to you this year. This is the year you begin living your mission!
This post is the first in a series of posts about personal strategic plans.