When we had full-time jobs (me at a university and my husband for a state agency) we both sat through many team building exercises, strategic planning sessions, and committee work to craft mission and vision statements for our respective departments. Every time a new leader took over we sat through another round of “values clarification,” wordsmithing mission statements, and updating 5-year strategic plans. There is nothing wrong with any of this, but when new leaders come and go as if there is a revolving leadership door, it was hard to maintain enthusiasm for the process. I remember in one such meeting the question was posed, “Where do you see yourself in the next year?” In a very snarky way, I whispered to a colleague, “I don’t know about the next year, but in 2 hours I see myself getting out of this meeting and never thinking about this again.” This is probably a sentiment that many of you can relate to.
But, then a funny thing happened. Over dinner one night we were talking about work and mission statements and strategic plans and decided we should have a family mission statement to state our philosophy, goals, and ambitions as we transitioned from full-time work to semi-retirement and starting consulting businesses. We figured that it was a worthwhile activity because we were confident the leadership wasn’t going to change and that we could commit to it.
So, we sat down with pen and paper (not the “big” paper that sticks to the walls that is ubiquitous at every formal planning session) and started by thinking about what we value. Values clarification is an important step in the process. Many of us have stated values (for example, “we value health”) but we don’t take the time to clarify what that means and how we can achieve good health. For us, our list looked like this
• We value:
o Each other
o Life-long learning
o Active lifestyle with physical challenges
o Good health
o Financial security
Next, we followed the principles of writing a good mission statement. Including cause (who we are, what we are, where we are), actions (what we do), and impact (changes for the better). So, for each of our values, we detailed what we currently do and what changes we wanted to make. In other words, image what you want to become. To get inspired, take a look at Fortune 500 mission statements and note that the best ones are short and sweet.
Every year in December, we revisit our personal mission statement and review what we achieved and where we fell short. It is also a time to reassess values and add or subtract to the list. Early on one of my values was writing and so the idea of Food & Fitness After 50 was hatched and included as a goal that was achieved in 2017. If one of your values is to eat well, move well, and be well, take the time to write down what that means to you so you can clarify that value and achieve the goals. This past year, we added the value of being active volunteers in our community; something that wasn’t on our list 10 years ago. For us that value is translated into volunteering at the local high school, library, YMCA, and civic organizations.
So, this year, instead of making new year’s resolutions, make a family mission statement for solutions for all that you value.
“The greater danger for most of us isn’t that our aim is too high and miss it, but that it is too low, and we reach it.” ~ Michelangelo
Chris Rosenbloom and Bob Murray are the authors of Food & Fitness After 50 available from Amazon in paperback or Kindle edition.