You’re challenged by a co-worker, client, friend or child; you’re up against physical, social, financial and emotional trials; you’re at odds with life and thwarted in achieving your goals. Despite this, what helps you remain empowered, contributing, lovable and connected? It’s your mission (also called your purpose). Therefore, it’s important you have a clear and memorable one and understand how it’s foundational to and must precede your values, vision, goals, procedures and roles. You may be among the many who don’t understand the difference between some of these terms and the significance of each, including the order in which they are best followed.

My Purpose: So…Why am I here?

This is one of the most important questions for you to answer and remember daily. Your mission or purpose is why you’re on the planet beyond survival; what you’d want on your tombstone; your legacy; what you want to “cause. Your purpose is not contingent upon your circumstances or your changing vision for how you express it. Your purpose is what makes your heart beat faster! For example, my purpose is “To create a world in which all adults and children love their lives.” A purpose is not dependent upon age, circumstances or even its expression. Your purpose is something you can trace back to lifelong memories in which you felt most connected and alive. Your purpose inspires because it comes from love and faith.

A purpose must be memorable; an exciting slogan. It should not be a wordy, jargon-laden description posted on a wall, easily forgotten. A great purpose drives thoughts, words and deeds every day. Zappos, the $billion on-line shoe company, has such a purpose: “to create a wow experience for all through exceptional service.” They orient their new employees for months so everyone understands their purpose applies both to customers and employees. Their purpose is their brand and defines their culture and focus.

My Values: So… How do I operate?

Purpose is the anchor that, when we remember it, keeps each of us steady through every type of storm. Values answer the question: How do I need to operate to live my purpose? What behaviors and ways of being support me in doing so? For me, because I’m creating a world in which all love their lives, I will act and be: Authentic (expressing me, transparent) Friend (sharing mutual respect, equality, caring) Service (giving more than expected) Learning (seeking knowledge and wisdom) Courage (facing discomfort/fears) Passion (engaging my heart) Receptive (receiving what’s offered) Competent (supporting success) Playful (having fun) Surrendered (giving control to God). Together, my mission and my values help me to stay constant and focused no matter what. They guide me. Without them, I’m unstable, reactive and fearful.

My Vision: So… How do I express my purpose right now?

After you have established your purpose and values, then you’re ready to create your vision statements. As an individual or organization, these describe specifically what you want to become, the particular expression of your purpose at a given moment in time. For example, when I was in my 20s, one of my visions included raising a family in which my children became good citizens while remaining individuals. In my 30s, my vision was to become a home and school educator so I could help others develop leadership in children. One vision was to create comprehensive home and school reform programs. My current vision includes being a culture specialist helping individuals and organizations to create healthy climates that foster holistic relationships and engagement. Like you, I have multiple visions for expressing my purpose; mine include “monthly public speaking” and “partnering with thought leaders on projects.”

My Goals, Procedures and Roles: So…

What do I do short term to fulfill on my mission?

When you have firmly established your purpose, values and vision, then your goals flow naturally and logically and your procedures and the role you want to play or delegate become clear. Most of us inadvertently put the cart before the horse. We jump into goals and take on roles without first understanding why we are here, how we need to operate and what our vision statements are for the expression of our purpose. You are here for a reason and your life purpose matters. No one else is here to fulfill it but you. If you want support in defining all of this in a meaningful way, please call and let me help – I want you to have a life you love!

Why People Hire LifeWork Systems

Business owners, community leaders, and educators hire Lifework Systems because they want the advantages of an extraordinary workplace and recognize a systems approach ensures consistency and sustainability in the transformation process. They know that conscientious employees grow your business and improve your reputation, giving you competitive advantages. We help organizations instill into every person a common language and toolset for how to participate in a responsibility-based workplace. Visit our website at www.lifeworksystems.com, and click the link at the bottom to complete a culture assessment and schedule your first consult to review a report on your feedback, all at no cost.

You can also contact Judy Ryan at 314.239.4727 or at judy@lifeworksystems.com.

As published nationally in Women’s Journals, February 2012