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Special User Sections > The Getting Organized Experiment of 2009

Do Visions and Missions work for you?

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Paul Keith:
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Mission Statements

In my earlier posts I left the how to develop a mission statement out, because I decided that anyone who wanted to write a mission statement could find one of the many useful articles, or books on the subject. Doug, innowen, and myself have all at one time or another written on the subject. For the Middle Way, the mission statement is not use much time on a weekly basis. Once it is developed it is used to set up the week.

However, one of the first questions I received on my last post was this:

I have looked at many different planning systems and all of them have as a part of the system a "Mission Statement".

Do you really need a "Mission Statement"?

I can see setting goals. That gets a project done. But a "Mission Statement".

I as an individual have no mission. I just want to get my life in order and make sure I get things done that need to be done. Perhaps if I were setting up some sort of association, a small business whatever a mission statement might be important but it is a waste of time that can be occupied getting things done that need to be done and reviewing and editing it is doubly useless.

Or am I wrong?
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The mission statement is a document which has to come from the heart. It can not be found outside of yourself. It has to come from within. The mission statement is a collection of what matters most to you. the following quote illustrates the frustration people have with mission statements when they fail to connect the person with their values, and beliefs in a meaningful way.

The next point from the discussion I want to comment on is:

I have just never understood the need for a mission statement and when I first started trying some of these organizational methods I tried to make one but it always seemed so silly and for the most part I would be copying the mission statements that were presented as examples.
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This was my experience when I first started trying to develop a mission statement. I learned that I was so afraid of putting on paper what was most important to me. I felt that it just could not be a mission statement, because it was of a spiritual nature, not a day to day be successful nature. I caution anyone entering into the exercise of writing a mission statement that it is very personal, and example mission statements often derail the process. Also, remember that while you are committing ideas down to paper that it does not mean that your Mission Statement becomes set in stone. You are allowed to change it, in fact, that is why we revisit it in the Middle Way Method, so that you can decide for yourself whether or not you still want to be held up to those words or if you want to change them.

I Wear Many Hats and if I were to write a personal mission statement, it would have about 17 chapters, none of which tied in to each other.

Or, I guess I could spend a couple of hours searching my mind for some over-arcing principle to try to tie everything together. I could then do a typographic poster of my mission statement, hang it on the wall — and it wouldn't change whet I'm doing, not one bit.
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I believe that our values transcend occupations. Who we are often defines what work we will do, but I can work in accounting, or flipping burgers, but my values of integrity, civility, and kindness transfer to the new job with me. I caution people to not let something as transitory as a job, occupation, or hobby define your values. The mission statement is a guide for choosing what you will do, and how you will accomplish it.

Vision Statements

Lastly I want to reiterate the value of the vision statement.

Please find your most comfortable place. Somewhere quiet, and private. If it helps play some music which helps you to relaxe, and maybe dim the lights. Now close your eyes, and ponder what would your life be like in two to five years if you were a complete individual. You have accomplished your present goals, you have learned all you set out to learn, you have developed the values in yourself you desire to posses. You are ready for bigger, and better things. How does your life look? How does it feel? Live it in your mind.

Immediately after doing that write a paragraph or two which bring those feelings back to you. This is your vision, keep it close to your mind. When you feel discouaged recite it to yourself. It has the power to pull you up, and to help you keep going.

I started out writing, because I hoped that in writing I would make a difference to someone, help someone solve a problem, or find a way to be a little better off. I am very grateful to the many people who have taken the time over the last few months to read, and share back thoughts about the Middle Way Method, and the system I created for it. I look forward to hearing about your successes, and being able to answer anymore questions you may have. If you have questions please feel free to contact me. I hope that this series gives everyone something to think about. I can be contacted through D*I*Y Planner's contact form, or through the website listed in my profile. When you e-mail me about the Middle Way method, please include the term Middle Way as part of the subject, so I can respond quickly to your message.

In my experience, mission statements are an illiterate mish-mash of management buzzwords.  In richly-deserved lampoon, much like this:

Mission statement generator© -  it's vertical, tracing and almost perfect

Do you feel left out because your business does not have a mission statement? Do other Executive Directors laugh at you because you don't have a corporate vision?

Writing a mission statements is a tricky business, but now help is at hand with the ISMS Mission Statement Generator©.

The ISMS Mission Statement Generator©  has been has been described on the Internet as: Dual-headed, top-down and almost spectral.
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To incubate plug-and-play deliverables with maximum effect for the benefit of our patrons and other private parternships
--- End quote ---

Paul Keith:
Heh, I feel the same but I admit in my personal notes I do have stuff written like that but I don't consider them missions and visions, just words for brainstorming.

There's a whole sect of motivational productivity people though and that's why I made this topic. It's not like the intentions of the ideas aren't bad but ehh... (Plus the example you wrote doesn't make sense to me. Really sounds like something written by a manager who don't even know what the heck he is managing)

I kind of see the idea of a personal mission statement as being what do you see as your purpose in life? Like Paul said, it has nothing to do with your current tasks on your todo list, your occupation, job, or what your goals are.

For me, that would be:

My purpose in life is to help people because helping people makes me happy.
Now, see, that has nothing to do with any specific occupation or job, but defining it can help me set goals, seek an occupation in line with it, and fulfill in my heart what I feel is my destiny. Knowing this, I won't seek a job or spouse that isolates me and prevents me from interacting with people I can help and makes it easier to ensure I stay away from and don't do things contrary to it.

And Paul is right, you can't define this unless you really look deep inside yourself and discover who you are.

I tend to avoid Vision Statements or long term life goals, and I definitely won't put them in writing. I have learned the hard way that doing so leads me down the path to serious depression, because my life rarely ever goes in the direction that I have planned, and looking back and seeing where I had hoped to be by now and where I actually am, makes me feel like a worthless failure. I'd rather not do that because it tends to spiral out of control and can be quite dangerous to my mental health. (this was a big contributor to my GTD related breakdown a few years ago) I can't look forward without looking back, and looking back makes me revisit things I'd rather forget and plans I made that never came to be.

It has taken me quite awhile to come to terms with the idea that it is ok to live life without a master plan, long term goals, or a big picture view of things. Some people are best going with the flow and enjoying the adventure. Some of us are a different type of traveler, better suited to just going wherever the road takes us, rather than having a destination in mind, using maps, planning routes, and having a travel itinerary.

I'll wonder about it, maybe dream a little, but I'll always deliberately leave it very fuzzy. I am better off that way. It helps me get through today with my sanity intact.

I think they have a purpose as long as they remain internal documents.

Unfortunately, many businesses and individuals make the mistake of seeing them as part of their marketing plan.

In my experience, most clients could care less about your mission or your vision. They prefer to focus on the quality of your service and products, your reputation, and how conscientiously you handle their account on a day to day basis.

I'm a fairly introspective and focused individual, so I never felt a compelling need to sit down and work out "on paper" who I am, what I'm about, or where I'm going. I've always been clear on that from a fairly young age. Same with my business. I've always been very clear about what it is we do, and what we need to do in order to accomplish it. And fortunately, I've been successful in communicating it to the people I work with. I don't use the term employee or customer since I feel it creates an unnecessary distinction between the people I work with. Some people I pay. Some people pay me. Both should expect to get the absolute best our company is capable of delivering.  

And... I'm gonna stop there.

This is starting to sound dangerously close to a vision or a mission statement , isn't it?  ;D


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