What would you consider your life’s mission?

Questions asked and answered for my daughters

Old Man’s Cave tunnel, Hocking Hills, Ohio. Wayne National Forest.

A life mission is one of those big topics that is difficult to figure out. It also takes and needs time, but once you get there, it will drive everything you do. Why you get up everyday, what career choices you make, and who you choose to have in your life are all driven from your life’s mission.

I’ll share a process that I worked through to determine my personal mission statement. Personal missions change over time, and that is okay. Find your first one by your mid-20s, but don’t think it has to last forever.

Windshield Time

I was 25 years old, and I had a part-time job at night two days a week teaching a sales class to undergraduate students at Ohio University. It was a long drive at the time… about 2 hours. I was working full-time and was questioning why I was doing what I was doing. I was wondering what I was going to do next and where it would lead me. What did I value? What motivated me?

During the drive to and from Athens, OH, I had time to think. Two hours there, two hours back. That’s a lot of time staring out of the windshield driving. I turned off the radio. I wrote about turning off the radio here and just let my thoughts run through the day debriefing what happened to clear my head.

After a while, you start thinking about yourself, your family, and your life. I always think about the movie “City Slickers” from 1991, when the city folk were trying to interpret the meaning of life from a cowboy’s advice… life’s meaning is one thing <hold your one finger up>.

The trick is… that one thing is different for every person. The city guy was in the middle of the river, in a rain storm, and trying to save a little cow. That’s when it hit him… he figured out the one thing… for him.

That’s what a personal mission statement is… the one saying that summarizes your reason to exist at this moment.

My Mission Statement(s)

After a couple of months of driving 8 hours a week for my part-time job in 2005, I was able to create my first personal mission statement:

“To make a difference” — across different areas and categories that I could influence with my job, family, friends, co-workers, etc.

It sounds too simple at first, but that is exactly what it is supposed to be. Looking back, it is also really generic, but that is the point too, because it referenced something specific at the time, and that is all that matters. I’ve kept track of my mission statements, as they have evolved and the years in which they applied:

To make a difference

To lead change through education, dedication, and hard work

To serve as an indispensable linchpin

To ride and experience the fantasy

To be there and live for others

What’s interesting is that they correlate to changes in my job or a moment in life where I felt a drastic change. Mission statements run their course… you accomplish what you set out to achieve.

How do you know when you complete a mission and need a new one?

You just feel it. You just know when it is time to determine a new one, and you start the “windshield time” process all over again.

Having a purpose in life will help give you the confidence you need to interact with others, take risks, and know yourself. The more you understand who you are, the more confidence you will have, and you will resist doing things that will take you off your path or following others where you should not go.

Below is a photo of me in 2003 transitioning from graduate school to working full-time. When I look back at that time, there are more similarities to how I am now than differences, because I maintained my life’s mission through the time.

Take the time to know who you are and then defend who you are… keep your confidence and stay on mission.

Shaun Holloway, 2003. Completed graduate school at Ohio University.




Business and life learning from everyday objects and common questions

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Shaun Holloway

Shaun Holloway

Lessons from Ordinary. Business and life learning from everyday objects and common questions. http://www.srholloway.com

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