I’m nothing if not honest here. Honest with a healthy dose of common sense. There are things I won’t discuss, like my sex life or money. Other things, like religion and politics and the Great Pumpkin are open season, and I’m pretty sure I’ve written about all of those. So go with me here as I dive into some self-honesty, and remember my mantra here is “if you decide to confide in others, you’ll discover you’re not alone.”
This summer was hard. Hard, hard, hard. That followed a spring so difficult that I was about to walk out the door and I’m totally not kidding about that. Spring was preceded by a winter that was less than stellar. Seeing a pattern here? Here at the House of Chaos things have been a bit janked for awhile. And it hit me hard. This summer, even though it was an “out of school” season better than others, wore on me. Having the boys home while I started a part-time job, while I tried to get more active in the gifted community, while I tried to still stay sane, really brought into focus how deeply I believe in year-round school. Oh, and showed me that hang the effin’ cost, next summer they are doing something every single week.
But I digress.
There came a point this summer where I felt like I was one breath away from a panic attack. All day. Every day. For weeks. It was just residual stress from all the previous months, stacked on top of one another, salted with my own personal intensities, oversalted with the intensities of the three men I live with, stirred up with the day to day craziness of having the boys out of a schedule, and thrown under a heat lamp to ferment. I finally looked at Tom and admitted I needed help, that the one anti-depressant I was on had apparently given up the ghost, and I was about to lose my ever-lovin’ mind.
My doctor, who I like but still freaks me out because he is my age, put me on a second anti-depressant (hooray for better living through chemistry!), and ordered me to find a therapist. To the therapist I went; she’s an awesome woman Tom and I have worked with to help us with A, because she’s a psychologist who specializes in gifted kids/adults/families. I like her so much. She’s been helping talk me down off the ledge and get a grip. She’s the one who first told me that I have a strong-willed personality. I totally laughed at her, I thought she was kidding. I have never in my life thought I was strong-willed. My brother, my son…they’re the strong-willed ones. She looked back at me and actually asked, “Are you crazy? You are soo strong-willed!” Ok, when your therapist asks you if you are crazy…well, I guess I am strong-willed. Who knew?
But I digress. As usual.
She has charged me to write my own personal mission statement. And I.am.stuck. I have no idea how to proceed. What is my mission in life? Other than italicizing a word in every other sentence, I mean…note to self, stop doing that. What do I want to accomplish with my life? My path has changed so many times I’ve lost track. While I’m kinda-sorta-not-really living the life I imagined, is it the life I want now? I wanted to be a stay at home mom. I am, and wish I had thought that through a little better. I wanted to be a band director. I was, and won’t go back. I wanted to be a flute teacher. I was, and can’t go back. When I was a kid, before I took up flute, I wanted to be a writer. I…have no answer for that.
So I’m asking for help from the Interwebz. Do you have a personal mission statement? What’s your mission in life? Do you know? Do you have a crystal ball so as to divine mine?
Because other than “Get up in the morning…” I’m lost.
Mine is just to survive this day and make it to the next at this point. But I’ll give it some thought.
Hon, that’s the only mission you need right now. Get through the back surgery and recovery and all the rest of the crap and THEN figure it all out!
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People has a section on writing missions statements. IMO, a mission statement goes beyond what you *do* (like a job) and instead focuses on the kind of life you want to live.
Years ago I wrote a very simple personal mission statement. It is simply: Love. Joy. Excellence. If I can live my life by those principles, it does not matter what I may be doing, I will be doing the right thing for me. And if I find that I’m doing or working on something that doesn’t align with those principles, well, then, I need to change something (either the “work” I’m doing or my own attitude).
I went and grabbed that book from Tom’s shelf and will start working through it. And you’re right about the mission statement being more focused on the life you want to live. That’s the kind I’ve been charged with creating. It’ll be good for me to work on.
My mission is simple. It is to move and be moved. That shows up in many ways in my life and in my work. It shows up in my business’s mission:
Lifepowercoaching cultivates both individual and organizational leadership through high quality experiential programs and professional coaching.
We serve educational systems, healthcare and community-based organizations.
How to find your mission? YOU ARE ON THE RIGHT PATH! You write, you share, you create. . .your mission will emerge.
What makes your heart sing? Look there.
Start with what makes my heart sing? That part is easy; writing and reaching out to other parents with complex gifted kids. I love it. Hm. That wasn’t so hard. Suppose I should work from there, eh? 😉 I do tend to make things harder than they need to be. Blasted gifted intensity. LOL. But these two sentences:
That’s where I think I’ll start. Thank you so much Melinda!
One way I found my mission is to split my life into 5 year periods (maybe skipping the first) and for each period, write down something I did in that timeframe that I’m happy about, that I remember, that I enjoyed. What do they all have in common? I think you’ll find that your mission is to do more of those things.
Eventually I found, kind of by accident, something to do that involves, and no lie here, *every one of those things.* Woo hoo!
Sarah, I really like the idea of splitting my life into 5 year chunks. I’ll need to do that. But finding commonalities with the chunks…hm…not sure. I’ve changed an awful lot in the last decade or so. Then again, I might surprise myself.
What did you find that incorporated all the commonalities? If you don’t mind me asking?
Long story…I started my own business not knowing really what I’d do other than “anything people wanted to pay Sarah to do”. Then a grad school professor begged me please to come back and get a doctorate with them. Huh? Once I wrote a very speculative paper showing how the current practice of the industry I’m in needs to expand in a certain direction. Now everything I’ve ever done fits into me consulting, in that business, including learning about it while studying, and everyone wants to know how to go that direction. Measurement, teams, it all fits in. I’m amazed. I can’t get there all at once but the ride is a blast.
And remember, the point is not “what did I think I should do every 5 years” but “what did I actually do that made me satisfied?”. Your commonalities could be always doing things with people (or else alone), always creating or always interpreting, doing things well or doing them fast, or doing them mindfully, many different kinds of commonlities. Does that make any sense?
Great post, Jen. Thanks for sharing both your confusion and your passion with us.
I’ve never attempted to define a mission for myself but in my 5th decade of life, the principle that undergirds my efforts is pretty clear. What’s less clear is how best to articulate it.
I am passionately interested in helping myself and others discover and nurture the creative passion that flickers in their souls. I guess I consider myself a midwife to the creative soul.
I like that. A midwife to the creative soul. Gets the point across in a poetic way. 🙂
My confusion may stem from the fact that I think I created a mission statement of some sort in the last 18 months or so. Must not have been very strong, as I don’t remember it at all. If nothing else, my mission statement must be strong enough to be recalled! LOL
I think knowing your mission in life is all about finding your passion and following it – it really seems like you’re waiting for the lightning bolt to strike you and say “become an advocate/facilitator/something for 2e families”.
My two cents, things always look clearer from far away.
My photography is available for purchase – visit Around the Island Photography and bring home something beautiful today!
Distance helps so much. And you’re right, I am waiting for that lightning bolt to hit. Or someone to shake me and say GET OFF YOUR DUFF AND DO IT! 😉 And I honestly feel like I am getting veryvery close to that point now. I’ll know when it’s right and exactly once it is when we meet. Kinda like when I met Tom. 😉
I don’t have a mission statement, but a motto I like to live by is “all things in moderation.” There has to be balance in our lives, but try telling me that when I am in one of my cleaning/organizing frenzies and I want to throw out everything…(sigh).
Thanks for sharing, Jen.
All things in moderation, including moderation. 😉 Balance is rough. Sometimes I feel like I’m on a tightrope, swinging wildly from side to side. Not exactly balanced, not exactly falling either.
Oh, and I’m totally going on one of those frenzies in October. Can’t.Wait. 🙂
You always were ahead of the game, see you’re a few years younger than I and I’m also going through the, “what the hell am I going to do with my life!” phase. High School= check. College=check. marriage=check. kids=check. Life=???
I too am in therapy for this very thing! (YEA for councilors! – mine’s also a special needs child councilor BONUS!) Although I’m all about the fear in my life and overcoming it, I’ve come to realize that fear has kept me from doing what I really wanted to all along but never thought I was good enough/ unique enough/ enough at it. Therefore the launch of kissmekatestudios. Scary, slow, but a start.
And so I say take the plunge, do what your heart desires, the payout may not be financial immediately but it will be emotionally beneficial instantly. (You know I’m talking about the writing right?) Write about 2e since that is where your heart is. Write about your love for music and how it’s made you who you are. Write like no one is going to read it and them write some more. Write about living with your three men who make you crazy and crazy in love. Stream of conscience thought write and get it all out; cry, laugh, get mad. But let it out and let it go. You’ll find your “mission statement” while you’re not even looking.
Honestly, it cracks me up to no end how much we’re alike. I remember just being soooo intimidated in college because you were so confident. 😉 Facebook is one of the greatest things in my life, and I’m so glad we’ve connected there. 🙂
Therapy with counselors who GET IT are worth their weight in gold, aren’t they?! I suspect mine is going to start pushing me past fear soon; fear of failure, fear of success. I’ve wondered in the past if fear of success is why I left music; well, that and some burnout I couldn’t move past. Fear is just so paralyzing. I’m so glad you took the plunge and started the studio. Can’t wait to see what you do with it!
And yes, I know I need to take the plunge, but fear is keeping me at the edge of the pool, only occasionally dipping my toes in the water before scurrying back again. I want to, I need to for my soul, and yet fear keeps me from the fun. 🙁 Poop.
Thanks so much for such a great comment hon. I have so much to think about here…
One other thing–have you ever read/done The Artist’s Way???
I’ve heard of it but I’ve never read/done it. I think I need to search it out in the library. Take a closer look.
Ok, how did I miss this post???
A mission statement might be helpful. But I heard something yesterday that I am really trying to take to heart that might be helpful.
You can’t pick up the starfish if your hands are full of shells.
I think my mission statement should be to pick up the starfish.
I…love that line. “You can’t pick up the starfish if your hands are full of shells.” I think I’m going to make that a big thing to remember.
Not so long ago, I’ve thought that I’ve filled my mission: I saved the life of my dear wife 12 years ago.
Now, I just (seem so simple) have to take care of my own person that was neglected so much.
Midlife crisis, I try to find happiness…and reach wisdom (seriously ! LOL).
If you don’t find a mission, just write the book of your life in which you are the hero ! 🙂