Once we have defined our personal core values and used those to create a vision, the next step is to define our mission. As mentioned before, the vision is imagining the future and the mission is what we are doing today to bring about that future. We’ve often said that the mission equals purpose plus action. It’s a simple equation on face value, but one that requires some introspection.
A man’s purpose can be split into his inner and outer purposes. Outer purpose can be thought of as the direction we are taking today based on the age and stage of life we are in. It is seasonal in nature. For example, when I graduated high school, I felt my purpose was to educate people in computers and electronics. It was the mid-90’s and technology was still very emerging. There was no Internet and the technology gap that existed in small businesses was huge. So I made it my purpose to help businesses and people navigate the waters of technology. Fast forward 25 years, and while I still have a role to play in technology, the education piece was waned. From an occupational purpose perspective, I now focus on managing teams of people with technology at the center of them. All this to say, my outer purpose has changed quite a bit over the years. Inner purpose, on the other hand, is intrinsic to our true selves. It is defined not by what we do, but by who we are. It speaks to our innermost being and provides a framework for what we feel our purpose on this planet is. While we may refine our inner purpose over time, it shouldn’t be affected by our age and stage of life. As an example, I believe my inner purpose is pursuing oneness with God. To me, that is the source of everything I need to positively impact the world around me. It fuels my outer purpose(s). If I change jobs or have kids or get married, my inner purpose remains the same.
The second part of the mission equation is “action”. You know the saying, “actions speak louder than words”. Without action, our purposes are nothing more than words on a page. The action portion of the mission statement simply defines, from a very high level, what you do daily to help achieve or make progress towards the mission. Action doesn’t have to be labor intensive, though. There may be some amount of “doing”, but it also can be action that is a natural expression of your being. For me, my action step to move me towards my purpose is loving others. Loving others is both part of my natural expression of who I am spiritually, and something that I must remind my physical self to do. Putting it all together, my full mission statement is “Pursuing oneness with God by loving other well”.
If you don’t already have a mission statement, start by thinking about how you can use your God-given gifts and talents to move you towards your vision. I’d encourage you to think of that mission in terms of both your inner and outer purposes. Even though they may have a different focus, there should be alignment between them. Finally, determine the action or actions that need to be present in order for you to make progress towards your mission.