Define your own mission, vision and values

Do you have a mission and vision statement? No, I don't mean for the company you work for...I mean for yourself. Have you ever spent time thinking about your career to determine what your purpose is and where you're going? Most successful people do and here's why:

It helps them choose which opportunities to pursue and they don't waste time on things that don't fit their goals.

You've probably heard the saying, "If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there." Too many people meander down a winding career road hoping that they will stumble across the "right" job along the way. Unfortunately, these are the same people who begin to panic around their fortieth birthdays because they haven't figured out what they want to do when they grow up.

Businesses have discovered the power of having a focused mission and vision statement. Many are now including a statement of core values as well. They have discovered that there is a good, bottom line reason for charting a direction. They are improving the odds that they will be successful.

If you were a freelancer or contract employee you would probably have given serious thought to this already. After all, if you're not in a safe, secure job, wouldn't you need to decide what direction you wanted to take? So, who out there still thinks that they are in a safe, secure job? Just as I thought: nobody.

I decided to do this for myself some years ago when I began helping companies develop their own vision, mission and values. I started feeling a little like Steve Martin who played the hypocritical evangelist in the movie, "A Leap Of Faith" when he said, "It's hard to fake being authentic." I wasn't feeling very authentic when I was touting the benefits of having these tools for others, when I didn't have them myself. I can tell you from experience that it was very difficult to commit myself to do it but once it was done, it helped me to choose among many paths and make faster progress toward my goals. Since that time, I've revisited my own goals at least once a year to make sure they still fit.

Here's a way to do it:
Get away from it all in a place that will give you at least a few hours of quiet time. Choose a place that relaxes you and makes you feel isolated from the world of phones and people.

To develop your mission, look beyond the obvious things such as salary and benefits and ask yourself "Why do I work?" "What greater purpose do I serve?" That will help you determine your purpose-or mission. An example is, "To get satisfaction from helping young children experience success."

A mission states the purpose of your career (the what and why) but your vision points to your destination (where you want to go) in the next three to ten years.

To discover your long-term vision, Imagine that you are at the end of your career looking back over the years. Ask yourself, "What did I want to accomplish?" "Where did I want to end up?" "What journey should I have taken, given the talents and abilities I have?"

Keep your vision short. Make it motivating and compelling. Use words that create a picture. For example, John Kennedy's: "Put a man on the moon by the end of the decade." An educator's: "Be the teacher that every student will remember as an adult." Bill Gates, Microsoft, Corp: "Put a computer on every desk in America."

You may also want to put your core values down on paper. These values describe the beliefs that guide every action you take. Some examples could be: Treat all people with respect. Act with honesty and integrity.

Write your mission, vision and values down and keep it in a place where you can refer to it often. Successful people write it down because they know it improves the chances that they will achieve their dreams.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
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