Finding Your Personal Mission
Have you ever been asked “What’s your calling or mission in life?” and froze like a dear in headlights? You think to yourself… “I know I’ve got something to offer this world, but I’m not quite sure what it is or how to share it.”
Well, that’s how I felt in the Fall of 2010 when I decided to leave the field of real estate after 8 years. I didn’t know where to start when looking for my “mission” in life, but I knew that it wasn’t selling real estate. Instead, I started a journey of inner and outer exploration to figure out what I truly loved doing.
When I came across a phrase by author Peter Senge*, things started to become more clear: “It’s not what the vision is, it’s what the vision does. ” I was starting to learn that my “mission” is not a fixed force or an end in itself. It can be a flexible, motivating force in life that inspires me to take action.
It can seem like a daunting task to find your own personal mission, but here is what I learned along the way during my journey from selling real estate to a gratifying role as a Director of a non-profit organization.
Step 1: Become self-aware:
Take an inventory of what you enjoy doing, when you feel in the “flow” and strengths that others notice in you. Find opportunities to do more of those activities.
My personal application: I started to take inventory of the times when I felt happy and engaged. I kept a journal/log and started collecting phrases, words and ideas that inspired me. Looking at those phrases every day, I was more aware of the opportunities that I wanted.
Step 2: Build the vision along the way
Patience will be key in your development of a personal mission. Sometimes it may feel that where you are and where you want to be are very far apart. If that’s the case, choose a skill that you can build which will help you on your path. Consider every step as part of your journey. Speak about what you are doing, the skills that you are building and look for friends, groups or a mentor that can support you along the way.
My personal application: Although I’m now a Director, I started as an Assistant at a non-profit. I knew that the organization had all of the values that I was looking for, and there was room to grow. But, I didn’t start out in my dream role. I had to earn it, by building skills along the way. Patience was key, but I always knew the “why” behind my actions and “where” I wanted to go.
Step 3: See opportunities and step into them…even if they are scary!
You’ve heard the concept that fish grow into the size of their tanks. Much like fish, people will grow into their situations. You are more capable than you think. Take on new challenges and work on stepping outside of your comfort zone.
My personal application: I try to keep pushing myself to build new skills, and take on new challenges. I’ve recently committed myself to improving my public presentation skills. So, although it pushes me outside of my comfort zone, I’ve joined a Toastmaster club and give regular presentations in my organization. I’ve definitely improved, and my confidence has increased as well!
Step 4: Allow for flexibility of your vision
A “life mission” doesn’t come out fully formed. It may start in one place and change over the years as you develop skills and experiences. You may head into an area that you didn’t intend from the beginning. Mission/vocation is malleable, ever-changing – you grow with your vision and your vision grows with you!
My personal application: My mission is still expanding! With every new experience, new skill or new person in my life, I add on to my vision. It keeps me excited and engaged in creating my future!
Now it’s your turn. How will you answer the next time someone asks you “What’s your mission in life?”
*Peter Senge – author of The Fifth Discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization, The Dance of Change, Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future, among other books
Megan is the Director of Placement Services with CCI Greenheart, and gets to promote cultural exchange and understanding every day. She loves to travel, spend time with her husband and is thrilled to be expecting twins, arriving July 2015!