Ever have one of those days, weeks or months that exhaust and frustrate you to your core? We all have them, but how do you stop them from taking over, from stopping you from being effective, from literally ruining your ability to be you at your best?
Whether you work in business, in social care, youth work, stay at home looking after the kids or take trips to the moon, your pathway to sanity, to staying at your best and staying motivated lies in the answer to the question: Why do you do what you do?
Your answer is your mission statement, the reason why you get out of bed in the morning, the reason why you hit the street running rather than languishing under your duvet. It turns you into a powerhouse of activity when things are going well and saves you from the pit of despair when things challenge and frustrate you.
I do what I do (working with challenging young people and helping improve the skills of those working with them) because I care, because I hate to see young people ‘written off’ before they’ve even really started in life. I want kids to see and know love no matter what they may have done or what others may have done to them. I want redemption and healing to be something you see and not just words you hear. I want kids and teens to see a future of possibilities, of happiness, of change, of freedom. I want to make a difference in this world. I want to save water and stop the tears.
And that is what keeps me going, through the foot-sucking mud and the 6 foot deep puddles. This is what gets me out of bed to go to work in the morning. This is what gets me through the sessions when I get told where to go, the sessions when I wonder whether I’m going to get a black eye, the sessions of silence, the yelling parents, the indifferent parents, the visits to Young Offenders Institutes that just smell of human despair and the interminable pointless paperwork that serves no purpose other than ticking a box for government.
My mission statement is my compass in all of this. It sees me through to the other side. It gives me the perseverance I need to be able to finally connect with a difficult young person. It’s what gives me the unabated joy of knowing that each day, no matter how hard it is, I am one step closer to achieving my mission on earth.
And so irrespective of how torrid my session, day, week or month has been I carry on, because beneath all the hard work there is a mission river of pleasure, of joy, of purpose flowing through me. It might not always be palpable as the struggle of the day muffles its roar, but if I stop and listen, it is there. It is always there to tap into, to quench my thirst.
And if I listen, my mission river not only quenches me when thirsty, but it speaks to me and presents me with new opportunities and ideas. It helped me to come to the decision to set up Teenage Whisperer. I figured that I could ultimately reach the most young people by aiming to help every person who works with them to effectively communicate and have the maximum positive impact.
Having a mission statement also helps you to keep goal-oriented. It is a well-known fact that it is those with goals that achieve the most- people who set goals achieve ten times more than those who don’t. This is because they are focused and have clarity about what they are trying to achieve. It means they don’t waste time on activities that are not getting them any closer to their goals, and can focus all their time and effort on those that do.
So do it- write your mission statement. Stick it somewhere you can see it everyday- as your computer background, on your wall, in your diary. Refer to it often. I promise you that it will keep you motivated, focused, goal-oriented and stormproof. Update it as your mission evolves. Those few sentences will have untold power. They will nurture you and make you the best you possibly can be. What’s stopping you?