Day 1: Start With The End In Mind

Productivity hacks are only meaningful if they’re getting you closer to your end goal

May 2, 2014 · 3 min read

Most self-help focuses on how to manage your time and how to be more productive with your time. Often, these productivity hacks assume that you know your priorities and are simply having trouble getting those priorities done because you procrastinate or because you try to get too much done in one day. Less often do we step back and really examine what it is that we are trying to accomplish. Rarely do we question why the tasks we’re prioritizing are important to us and how they fit in with the bigger picture of our lives.

If you are reading this, perhaps you are like me, and want to take time to define your priorities before jumping straight to strategy. After all, a strategy is only a means to an end. If the end is something vague or undefined then it’s hard to know whether or not all those life hacks got you to where wanted to end up in the first place. Today, then, is about defining the destination.

Step 1: Define your roles

Who are you to the most important people in your life? What roles do you play and what roles would you like to play?

I currently play four roles:

  • I am an individual
  • I am a college student
  • I am a daughter and only child
  • I am a creator (i.e. a person who creates things including drawings, writings, designs, and even websites)

Defining roles is important because there are inescapable responsibilities associated with each role you play(e.g. as a student I have to be in good academic standing, so I have to complete my coursework and attend exams). Although I do not create things as a profession, I separate being a creator from being an individual because I associate different responsibilities to the two roles. It’s personal preference, and you could combine the two roles.

Step 2: Create a personal mission statement

Creating a mission statement is an essay by itself. I wrote my personal mission statement after reading 7 Habits of Highly Successful People by Stephen Covey and this great guide by Gala Darling. Covey recommends writing a family mission statement in addition to the personal mission statement, but I opted to write a student mission statement instead.

My personal mission statement is vague because it’s written primarily to capture the essence of what I want out of life and not the specifics. It’s also vague because I don’t know the specifics of what I want out of life yet.

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Initial personal mission statement written March 20, 2014

My vision for what I wanted to get out of college is much clearer. I actually had a hard time writing my student mission statement because it felt too stiff, and I wanted it to be more inspirational.

Work smarter, not harder to achieve academic success. Balance good grades, personal interests, clubs/activities, and recruiting season. Prioritize academics. Cultivate weak ties.

Luckily, these mission statements are meant change as you change. I plan on revisiting mine once every six months.


  1. Define the roles you play in your life
  2. Write a personal mission statement for yourself and for any roles in your life that you feel are relevant

What’s Next?

  1. Take an inventory of your responsibilities and categorize them
  2. Prioritize your responsibilities based on your mission statement

30 Days of Change

Personal accounts of change over the course of 30 days.

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