Saturday, January 31, 2015

Day 31: The Mission Statement

The Mission Statement:  Day 7 (based on Creating a New Mission Statement from the New York Times).

For the past week I have written blog posts that answered the following seven questions:
  • How do you want to be remembered?
  • How do you want people to describe you?
  • Who do you want to be?
  • Who or what matters most to you?
  • What are your deepest values?
  • How would you define success in your life?
  • What makes your life really worth living?
My reason for answering these questions was to find out what motivates me, what I'd like to achieve in my life, and what things are important to me.  Once I knew these things I would, hopefully, be able to craft a personal mission statement.  The idea being that this mission statement could serve as a guide for how I live my life in the thousands of days that lie between tomorrow and death.  

I admit at first I was skeptical.  I was not sure that I'd finish the week with anything close to resembling a mission statement.  As I answered the questions each day it began to become clear that there were definitely some recurring themes in my responses: art/creating, my relationships with people and my community, attaining intellectual knowledge, and exploring/experiencing as much of the world as I can.  

It also became quite clear that my mission statement would not be a simple one.  However, I have, as of 3:26 PM today, achieved my goal (though I'm pretty sure it won't fit easily onto a cross stitch pillow)...
I want to live my life in a fashion that is true to my self, my values and beliefs.  I want to continue to create and explore art in its infinite variety of forms; to expand my intellectual knowledge and grow my mind; to experience more of the world both at home and abroad; and to cultivate and foster personal connection with individuals and my community.
Tomorrow is my birthday and I think I may have just given myself a pretty neat gift.   I feel as though I am starting this next year of life with a little more self-knowledge than I had eight days ago. 

Today also marks the end of two months of daily blogging. I entertained the idea of doing one more month but my life is very full right now so after today I'll be changing to weekly posts.  

Thank you to everyone has been reading over the past two months.  I'll "see" you later on this week. 
 

Friday, January 30, 2015

Day 30: What makes you life really worth living?

The Mission Statement:  Day 7 (based on Creating a New Mission Statement from the New York Times)

I am down to the last question:   What makes you life really worth living?

It is interesting to me that as the week has progressed the questions have in some ways become easier for me to answer.  Of course, intentional or not, they do seem to build on each other so it may just be that my thoughts have been corralled in this direction all week long.

What makes life really worth living for me?

  • The creative process.  Birthing a new work from idea to creation is a never easy but always worth it.  
  • New experiences.  I love learning new things, exploring new places and discovering things about the world and myself. 
  • People.  My friends, my family and my community bring so much to my life.  I share many of the two things listed above with them. 
Of course this does mean that any of these things are always joyful things.  Goodness knows I have my share of letdowns, failures and upsets but in the long run, these are the three things that really keep me going.  

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Day 29: How do you define success in your life?

The Mission Statement:  Day 6 (based on Creating a New Mission Statement from the New York Times)

How do you define success in your life?

"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm" - Winston Churchill

"There is only one success - to be able to spend your life in your own way." - Christopher Morely
 
It is day six of my quest for a personal mission statement.  When I first read today's question I thought it would be difficult for me to answer.  For assistance I turned to Google and did a search for "quotes about success."  I thought I'd be spending a lot of time browsing words of wisdom but suprisingly enough the two quotes above were on the first page I looked at and both resonated with me.

Success for me means living life on my own terms in pursuit of my own purpose.  And it also means a willingness to keep seeking because my purpose today may not be the same tomorrow or a year from now, and there may very well be days that I feel lost.  Success is being able to live the life I choose.

And, well, hopefully having a roof over my head, food in my belly and community of wonderful people around me. That would be a part of success for me too.

One more day to go!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Day 28: What are your deepest values?

The Mission Statement:  Day 5 (based on Creating a New Mission Statement from the New York Times)

The quest for the personal mission statement continues with today's question: What are you deepest values?

Before I answer this question I thought it best to first see exactly what values are.  A Google search brings up the definition "a person's principles or standards of behavior; one's judgment of what is important in life."  

Mindtools.com says that "[w]hen the things that you do and the way you behave match your values, life is usually good – you're satisfied and content. But when these don't align with your values, that's when things feel... wrong. This can be a real source of unhappiness."

Okay.  I think that makes it pretty clear what values are.  So now what are mine and which of those are the 'deepest'?

Well it seems like it's time for a list...
  • Honesty and clear communication
  • Freedom of expression - particularly through art and entertainment
  • Maintaining a healthy body and mind
  • Close and loving friendships
  • Striving to make the world a better place, in particular working to ensure that everyone's basic needs are met while leaving enough for the future (I probably could have just said sustainability right?)
This is one of those things that could be twenty items long but I thought the top five would do.  I'd put integrity, making space for adventure and a quiet down time as a close six, seven and eight.  Ok...maybe those would fall under the umbrella of a few of those top five items.

There are two more days of questions remaining and I'm beginning to wonder just how I am going to boil this all down into a succinct and meaningful mission statement.  So far though the process has been good.  I find that many of the questions are about things I've not thought about all that much, though it seems when I do a bit of digging the answers are there. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Day 27; Who or what matters most to you?

The Mission Statement:  Day 4 (based on Creating a New Mission Statement from the New York Times)

The question for today is:  Who or what matters most to you?

I am not very good at these sorts of things. If you ask me to name the two most important things in my life I'll give you a list of five.  If you ask what person I love the most, I tell you three, and probably give you a lecture about how one can't quantify love so why bother to try to rank it?  I am pretty sure that I could not pick just one thing or person that matters most to me.

So I'm picking three. 
  • My art in all its forms
  • The people that I love and hold dear
  • My community
Without any one of these things I'd feel that a great part of me was missing.  When I have had times in my life that I have neglected any of them I have felt depressed and lonely.  Balancing these things has never been easy, but it has always been vitally important.

These things are a huge part of who I am and who I want to become.  Without them I am simply not me.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Day 26: Who do you want to be?

The Mission Statement:  Day 3 (based on Creating a New Mission Statement from the New York Times)

Today's question is "Who do you want to be?"

Well, they don't go small with this mission statement thing do they?

It is hard for me to think of who I want to be because my mind keeps thinking about what I want to be. I keep thinking of things that I can name like dancer, writer, artist, student, friend, lover, and the list goes on.  I don't feel that what I want to be really answers the question of who I want to be. And really, when you get right down to it there really is only one person I want to be.

Me.

Who else am I going to be?  Who else can I be but myself?  Of course maybe the point of this question is to give some thought to just exactly who I am and maybe to consider if I want to be exactly the me I am right now.  I mean right now "me" is far from perfect.

The me that I am right now is the product of her experience and not all of that experience was good, some of it left her hesitant, scarred, and unsure. The me that I am right now is afraid of many things.  She isn't always as accepting of herself that she could be or as she'd like to be.    She lives with a lot of anxiety and she'd really like to be more trusting of her fellow humans.  She is very demanding of herself and others.

Of course she also had experiences that made her as survivor.  She doesn't like to see others in pain or suffering and will do what she can to relieve it.  She tries her best to do the right thing.  Despite being unsure and afraid she still more often than not manages to do the very things she is afraid of.  She believes in her dreams and will pursue them with all of her being even if others may not fully understand just what is she is attempting to achieve.  She loves deeply.  She wants to leave the world a better place.

The me that I am is well aware of her flaws and her mistakes.   Maybe she could learn to be just as aware of her more positive attributes.

Who do I want to be? A better me?  A more evolved me?  A more realized me?   We all know I how feel about those expressions...if you think I'm going to say "a more authentic me" you are going to wait a very long time.

The only thing I really know for sure is that, good or bad,  the person that I am tomorrow will be at least a tiny bit different than the one I am today. it is unavoidable. So maybe I just want to be a me that is not as burdened by her past and a little more willing to face the future without expectation. 

How is that for an answer?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Day 25: How do you want people to describe you?

The Mission Statement:  Day 2 (based on Creating a New Mission Statement from the New York Times)

It is Day 2 of my attempt to craft a personal mission statement.  Today's question is, "How do you want people to describe you?"

Unlike yesterday's question I do not have a string of words popping into my brain. In fact I'm feeling a bit awkward about the whole thing.  I suppose the point of this question, and yesterday's question, is to ask what kind of person you would like to be rather than what kind of person are you right now.  A mission statement is after all supposed to help you to find your "individual sense of purpose" by defining what you want to be and how you might get there. 

The Times article explains that the personal mission statement idea comes from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which I've never read and it's likely the sort of thing that I would dismiss a hokey but it does say this:
"[Your personal mission statement] focuses on what you want to be and do. It is your plan for success. It reaffirms who you are, puts your goals in focus, and moves your ideas into the real world. Your mission statement makes you the leader of your own life. You create your own destiny and secure the future you envision."
Ok, that's a whole to to ask of a few sentences but we are only on step number two.  Now let's take a deep breath (iiiiinhale, eeeeexhale...gooood)...

I want people to describe me as unique and creative.  I definitely want to be described as independent, interesting and adventurous.  I want to be described as loving and honest.  I want to be described as kind.  I'd like to be described as beautiful (is that too superficial?). I'd like to be described as dependable.  I'd also like to be described as being wise, generous and a good listener.  I want to be described as being a good friend. 

Hmmm...I think that covers most of it.  It looks like I pretty much want to be described as an awesome human.  Right now I'm not really sure how I'll get there but then finding my way is a big part of what this process is all about.