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3 Simple Steps to Create a Personal Mission

How personal missions get you closer to achieve your dreams.

Imagine living several thousand years ago. There would be so many places to discover and things to learn. The maps would have blank spaces, because they were a work-in-progress. How big could the Earth be? What things would be over the horizon? The world was an undiscovered place, and the Europeans sailed out to find out. They went on missions.

16th century evangelists were going on missions. Explorers were going on missions. Conquerors, scientists, and friars set sail. All were serious about their missions. But it’s puzzling how they sailed so confidently into the unknown world. How could they know what resources they would need and how much to take? Where would they land? Did explorers have any systemic way to go about their missions?

Religiously speaking, missions began by Spanish Churches that sent a group of people to foreign lands to evangelize natives and establish their religious work. Less worried about how and more concerned about why (they needed to save souls), they sailed with intent. Missions had purpose, they knew what they wanted to achieve, they chose their locations, and they prepared and left their home country to begin their mission. Eventually, they established presidios or forts to defend the mission against invaders.

So why should you go on a personal mission? Because missions are fascinating! Missions set clear goals to accomplish, and this provides an exciting tension to want to make you achieve it. There is something adventurous about going on a personal mission. In business, mission statements are set, but they’re often vague and boring. They lack the excitement of a 16th century mission. And how can you go on a personal mission? Consider the following:

1. Purpose and Mission

16th century missions knew why they had to bring their religion to foreign lands. Find your why. Why is your mission so important to you? You can dig a little deeper by asking the 5-whys. Some European explorers wanted to find riches in the new world. Charles Darwin joined the HMS Beagle ship as an unpaid biologist to collect rare specimens and send them back to England for further study.

Missions are about achieving something. Ask yourself, what would I like to achieve? Once you have the clarity of what you want, begin taking action. However, the key is how you go about your mission. So while your end result may be what you’re going after, you need to make the goal of taking action towards your goal, the goal. Think about it. To develop grit, focus on action rather than a pass/fail measure each step of the way. Have grit as the goal. Many missions didn’t make it to foreign lands the first time. They faced many obstacles. Create a habit of grittiness and action rather than goals and results while you sail.

2. Setting and Time

Missions always need a place where you will work to achieve your goal. For instance, missions were established in places like Texas and California where they could farm, build forts, and be logistically close to Mexico City for resources. Sometimes a location can’t be defined, so you set a direction or “true north”. Other times the destination is clear so you can embark right away. Where will you start?

The when and how seem to be intertwined. You want to prepare, but you recognize that you also need to figure things out as you go. Go ahead and set a date and begin.

3. Team up and Go

Who will you go on a mission with? In business, finding the right partners can be both the hardest and most important success factor. In Zero to One, Peter Thiel asks: “Why would someone join your company as its 20th engineer when she could go work at Google for more money and more prestige?” He continues, “The only good answers are specific to your company […] But there are two general kinds of good answers: answers about your mission and answers about your team. You’ll attract the employees you need if you can explain why your mission is compelling: not why it’s important in general, but why you’re doing something important that no one else is going to get done.” This is how you turn a boring mission statement activity into an exciting mission that reflects what you’re up to.

Before you begin your personal mission, actively prepare as much as you can. Know what resources you’ll need. Identify the potential hazards and address them accordingly. However, when you begin your quest, keep a beginner’s mind and persevere. If you think you have everything figured out (knowledge), then how will you persist when you face an obstacle (practice)? A mission is about figuring it out rather than it being all figured out!

Native Americans were just fine before they were forced to join the missions. It’s unfortunate how much Native American rights have been stepped on even to this day. Missions are not about subjecting others, but seeking overall benefit to anyone involved. Perhaps we should have a mission to make it right today. Make sure you set your missions in a way that anyone involved in it benefits. Your mission should have clarity in what it aims to achieve. If you’re a student, how can you apply what you learn to improve your community? Strive to understand what is that you gain from anything you learn and how you can give back to your community.

Missions are all about applying your skills to improve the world. Set your missions in such a way that you can go on more if a given one fails. Any dreams, projects, or big goals you have pending are probably lacking the dynamics of a mission. Set your purpose, set the time and place, choose the people that may be involved, and set sail! Missions are risky, but as long as you grow from every experience and strive for continuous personal improvement, you will make every mission you go on worthwhile.

Juan F. Diaz

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