Matt Shumate is a man with a mission. What’s yours?
Every man has an underlying series of internal guidelines that dictate the way they approach life. Morals, ethics, values, and desires all mold the decisions you make day in and day out.
The problem is that most people don’t dig deep enough introspectively to fully grasp their own guiding path, and they lack the ability to articulate it clearly.
Developing a personal mission statement will help you to ascertain who you are and what your PFE (Purpose for Existence) is. Once you come to terms with your PFE, everything in life begins to make sense.
Decisions on career and relationships become easier, and you walk through this world with a greater sense of purpose and being. It’s extremely empowering. But, it takes some work to get there, and you have to be willing to break down your external shields and dig into your essence—the core of who you are.
The process is more of an art than a science, but here are a few open-ended questions to ask yourself when building out your personal mission statement.
- What are you passionate about? What do you love to do?
- What’s important to you? Relationships, health, religion, family, career.
- What motivates you every day?
- What positive characteristics do you have? What makes you awesome?
- What do you have to give to the world?
- What does your perfect day look like?
- What do you aspire to have more of?
- How do you want to be remembered?
- What would you do if you had all the money and time in the world?
Once you’ve done some deep soul searching, start boiling everything down into a one or two-sentence summation of what defines you and why you do what you do.
Your statement becomes your “North Star” or “Raison d’etre.” During difficult times, you can always bring yourself back to your mission to realign yourself.
Once you’ve nailed down a personal mission statement, you can start to envision the future. Let’s take what we now know about our PFE and come up with a game plan of awesomeness to dominate life.
One fun exercise along these lines is to build your personal bucket list. You hear the phrase “cross that off the bucket list” used ubiquitously, but have you ever taken the time to write your own?
Even though you may have thought about things you want to accomplish in your life, planning your future becomes a much more powerful and actionable concept when you write your desires down and dedicate yourself to making them happen.
Some questions to ask yourself to get the juices flowing are: Where do you want to go? Whom do you want to meet? When you picture yourself in a state of blissful happiness, what are you doing and who are you with? What was unique about you when you were a child?
Now sit down and start bulleting out your list. You don’t have to tackle the whole thing in one sitting, as you may get writer’s block, but try spend a good hour to fleshing out all of the awesome stuff you can do in life.
Travel is likely to be one of the first things to pop into your head. Nearly all of us have an inherent desire to behold the many wonders of the world. For me personally, there are more travel related items on my bucket list than anything else. But, make sure you think beyond travel as well. There’s a lot of cool stuff you can do that is local and within reach.
You want to pepper in some huge, grandiose, epic adventures with some that are more attainable on a smaller level. “Prepare a seven course meal for your parents” could be one that would deliver a great sense of accomplishment, but doesn’t require a transatlantic flight. It also helps to have items that are achievable more instantly so you can constantly be checking things off your list.
When you’re brainstorming, ask your network of friends and colleagues what’s on their lists. But, avoid copying and pasting too much. Your list should be unique to your own mission, values, and personality.
Here’s an example of my personal bucket list…
- Travel the world
- Own my own passive income business
- Live in Ecuador for three months
- Become fluent in Spanish
- Learn to play guitar
- Jump out of a plane
- See the seven wonders of the world
- Go to every continent
- Go hang gliding
- Create a top 100 favorite movies list
- Own a place on St. John
- Buy my parents a house
- Own a salt water aquarium … with a shark
- Publish a book that’s read by 10,000 people
Once you’ve built your own list, you now have tens or dozens of epic things to do throughout your life. However, the best strategy in the world is worthless without proper execution. So, how do you stick to it and make it all happen?
Start by surrounding yourself with like-minded people. As with anything in life, a large part of who you are is dictated by the people you associate with.
If you’re hanging out with a bunch of losers with minimal aspirations, odds are you’ll be drinking that Kool-Aid. If you’re with people getting out there and living an awesome lifestyle, you’ll get motivated through osmosis to do the same.
Make your list public, and you’ll be more dedicated to its completion. Don’t save it in a locked file hidden in the back of your hard drive. Print it out and put it on the fridge. Take a picture and post it on Facebook. When you publicize a goal, it greatly heightens your sense of accountability to achieve it.
Also, try breaking things down into smaller, more actionable next steps. Living in Thailand for a year is a daunting thought. So much so, that you may not even know where to start. Well, a small step forward is better than no step at all. So, here’s how to move your goal forward.
Budget out the weekly costs of a beach bungalow in Koh Samui including food, entertainment, and travel expenses. Make a list of everything you need to take care of at home to sublet your place out, put things in storage, and sell excess crap on eBay.
If you’re having trouble getting motivated to do these things, then simply go get a Pad Thai at the local Thai spot. Or do a Google image search for Thai islands, and you won’t need much more motivation than that.
The point is to chunk things up into smaller and more instantly achievable goals. That way you can have the satisfaction of making progress on a daily basis to reach your dreams, which makes it easier to keep pushing. Set time aside for this each week. Carve out a good two hours every Sunday and take a “Bucket Break” from the rest of your life to start pushing these forward.
As you’re progressing on your epically awesome feats, document your journey in your journal. How are you feeling as you achieve these ambitious goals? What has the experience been like?
The ability to remind yourself retrospectively of how you felt when you accomplished something on your list allows you to relive it vividly all over again. Make sure you capture what it was like, but remember to stay in the moment and embrace every second while it’s happening.
Is there anything stopping you from developing your personal mission statement and starting to live life to it’s fullest? No? Then why not get started today.