A different type of resolution: What is your “mission-critical” statement?

The tradition of making resolutions goes back to Babylonian times, and research on why we make New Year’s resolutions suggests that using temporal landmarks, dates of significance that provide a frame for a new beginning, are helpful in physiologically providing us with a sense of renewal. As we roll into a new year, many of us have been thinking about what we want to resolve to do differently in 2023. This year, I have a suggestion for a different type of resolution. I suggest we resolve to discover our “mission-critical” statement for work. Your mission-critical statement is, in essence, your raison d’être.

Think about the power of clarity your mission-critical statement can give you! Do you feel scared thinking about what that statement might be? You should. It is complex in its simplicity, and it might result in you having to dig much deeper into yourself to find the words that sum up why you are driven to do your work. And yes, you might find that what you are driven to do is different from the work that you are doing, and that is okay because with knowledge comes power.

In concept, meaningful work is work that you regard as important, significant, and valuable. Why is it important to find meaning in the work that you do? Your fundamental well-being is directly connected to where you derive meaning in your life. You will spend approximately 90,000 hours at work, about a third of your life. Not finding meaning at work can impact your mental and physical health. In contrast, meaningful work can reduce your stress levels and increase your ability to be productive and provide greater job satisfaction.

Crafting your mission-critical statement

Identify your personal values.

Your personal values are, in essence, the cornerstones of what shape you as a person. They are the pieces of your life that are the foundation of who you are and are built from the sum of your life experiences. They are the code by which you try to live your life and, when manifested, provide you with meaning, purpose, and fulfillment.

How do you uncover your values? Digging into your values and the words that identify your values should not be an exercise of typing “personal values” into Google. You will get lots of lists of words, but they will not have the context or meaning you need for your special and unique mission-critical statement. Instead, it would be best to dig deeper into your life stories. A resource with great questions is the article “15 Effective Ways To Discover And Articulate Your Core Values,” published by Forbes Coaches Council. Set aside the time to explore a few or all the exercises suggested in the article, as they will unlock more than you can imagine.

Answer questions to prompt your thinking about meaning and work.

These questions should be completed in more than one sitting. Take your time to think about them, reflect, and return to them over days or weeks. As you think through your life’s arc and your chosen profession, your answers will become more refined. These answers to your questions will provide the language you will draw upon to create and hone your mission-critical statement.

  • What is your purpose in life?
  • What is your passion in life?
  • How do your purpose and passion intersect with your work?
  • How do your personal values intersect with your purpose, passion, and work?
  • What satisfies you at work?
  • What gives you energy at work?
  • What brings you joy at work?
  • What is the impact you want to make in the world?
  • What is the impact you want to have at work?
  • How is the impact you want to make in the world connected to your work?
  • What impact does your work have?
  • Who benefits from your work?
  • What benefits are derived from your work?
  • What is the difference you are making in the world?
  • What is the difference you are making through your life’s work?

Write your mission-critical statement.

Your mission-critical statement is your power statement. It should be short and impactful. It should include action verbs that pack a punch. All the work you have done identifying your values and uncovering where you find meaning will help you discover words you can play with to craft your statement. If you need some inspiration, here are three examples of mission-critical statements:

Transforming people’s lives.

Empowering leaders to illuminate possibility.

Inspiring teams to revolutionize innovation.

Memorialize your statement in a meaningful way and have it readily accessible. Revisit your mission-critical statement periodically and amend it as needed.

Best wishes for 2023!

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