I read a recent post over at Magical Words regarding mission statements. The blogger brought up my biggest complaint about those peculiar little blurbs:
Most of the time, they don’t actually say anything.
I’ve written my fair share of mission statements. I’ve proofed them and updated them, and almost every single time, I think to myself: who cares? Is anyone really going to read that we strive to have the most efficient customer service through quick response times, multiple operators, and a robust automated system?
No. No one.
But, like Misty at Magical Words said, mission statements do serve a purpose when used correctly. They allow for us to focus on specific goals and work out methods and timelines to get there.
I Need One
I even wrote a novel manuscript, dabbled in some short stories. Came up with some neato premises for future fiction I want to work on in the future.
And then things just kind of petered out. The fall semester started and kept pushing all the way through December, and I had very little spare time for anything but work (teaching three freshman composition classes at once will do that to a guy). When Christmas break came around, I hadn’t been given the comments I had been waiting on for my manuscript, so I took that as a sign to not worry about revising it. Instead, I took the time to play lots of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm.
When I read the Magical Words post about mission statements, I realized what my problem was.
I didn’t have anything concrete for the future.
When I had a focused goal with a deadline, I worked hard at it. I often exceeded the limitations I set for myself–2k words per day or 10k per week. But when summer left, so did my drive. So did my goals. The whole idea of writing and making a living at it was so nebulous and abstract that it just fell to the side. It was out of sight, so it was obviously out of my mind.
Enter the mission statement.
Instead of focusing on seasonal or annual goals, I need something long-term to work toward. I will still obviously set annual goals (which will be worked out by May so I can begin my second-annual “treat writing like the job I want it to be” summer), but I am goal-oriented and need something to motivate me when things aren’t going quite like I want them to. Something to keep my eye on. Something that points the direction when I get lost in the “I suck at this” doldrums.
Beej’s Mission Statement
Be able to make a full-time living within 5 years by selling a combination of fiction and non-fiction by experimenting with self-publishing ebooks* through various platforms. To utilize my experience as an entrepreneur to build a fanbase for my fiction through high-quality, consistent blogging and social media use.
*”Did he say self-publishing ebooks?” Yes, I did. Expect a longer post on the topic soon.
So There You Have It
I’ve laid out my long-term goals and aspirations in this mission statement. It isn’t anything extraordinary or spectacular in its own right, but it’s mine. It says what I want. And the main thing is, it’s doable. I could have put something much more unrealistic like “Finish my Ph.D., get tenure, and land a six-figure advance for my debut novel in under 5 years.” I could work as hard as I can toward it, but it’s not going to happen.
I prefer to work within the parameters of what I can control. And for that mission statement to work, all I have to do is work at it.
I can do that.
What about you? Do you have a mission statement for your dreams and goals? Sound off in the comments!