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Letting Things Go

Letting Things Go

More than a year ago, I decided to spend more time writing to share some of the ideas I’ve developed over the years. Imagining how I could do it and setting my plans in place was fun. So much fun I forgot the most basic rule of planning: It’s not what you plan to do that comes first, it’s what you’re willing to give up to make time and space to do it.

As I plunged ahead in the excitement, I realized little of it would ever happen. The reason was simple: I had no time or energy available. As the head of a business, most of my time was spoken for. I had people who depended on me, clients who expected service, and I needed to pay attention to everything from marketing to finances and computer services.

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What I did to solve my difficulty was retire. I gave up my job to pursue my dream. I’m not suggesting this is the only way, or the right way. For most people, it won’t even be an option. I only mention it to show that moving forward always means leaving something behind; often something you don’t much want to let go.

I frequently meet people who tell me they are on the edge of some great endeavor. Yet they never get started, because they’re waiting: waiting to finish something they’re involved in; waiting to feel sufficiently secure to take the risk; waiting until their children are grown, or their spouse doesn’t need to travel so much; waiting for enough savings to hold onto; waiting for the right time.

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There isn’t a right time. There’s now, there’s sometime, and there’s never. Any time you start to think about starting, there will inevitably be something in your way: something important you don’t want to give up . It’s human to want to have it all: the exciting job; being a terrific parent; becoming a leading light in the community; and writing the Great American/Australian/British/Canadian Novel at the same time. Get a grip, my friend. It’s not possible. Choices will make always require you to leave other options behind, probably for ever.

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A good part of the skill of living is the willingness to let things go without regret. Choose what seems best, acknowledge what you may have to give up to obtain it, and get on with your life. Don’t look back. Not now, not ever. Banish thoughts about what might have been. It wasn’t. Besides, whatevr you imagine would have happened is virtually certain to be wrong. People usually believe the roads they didn’t take would have been better than the ones they did. It’s just as likely those roads would have been far worse; or more or less the same.

Above all, don’t join in the national pastime of synchronized whining about the difficulties preventing you from doing what you really want. Either get on with it, if you truly want to, paying the price it demands and enjoying whatever you achieve; or shut up and accept you aren’t willing to pay, so you can’t have the goods. You cannot have it all. Get used to it.

Adrian Savage is an English author and retired business executive who lives in Tucson, Arizona. You can read his thoughts most days at Slow Leadership, the site for anyone who wants to bring back the taste, zest and satisfaction to leadership; and at The Coyote Within.

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Last Updated on October 9, 2018

How to Write a Personal Mission Statement to Ensure Peak Productivity

How to Write a Personal Mission Statement to Ensure Peak Productivity

Most of you made personal, one sentence resolutions like “I want to lose weight” or “I vow to go back to school.” It is a tradition to start the New Year with things you want to achieve, but under the influence resolutions are often unrealistic.

If you’re wondering when will be a good time to write a mission statement, NOW is the time to take a personal inventory to make this year your most productive year ever. You may be asking yourself, “How am I going to do that?” You, my friends, are going to write personal mission statements.

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A large number of corporations use mission statements to define the purpose of the company’s existence. Sony wants to “become the company most known for changing the worldwide poor-quality image of Japanese products” and 3M wants “to solve unsolved problems innovatively”. A personal mission statement is different than a corporate mission statement, but the fundamentals are the same.

So why do you need one? A personal statement will help you identify your core values and beliefs in one fluid tapestry of content that you can read anytime and anywhere to stay on task toward success.

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For example, Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire came to the realization that he had lost track of what was important to him. After writing a personal mission statement, we saw him start his own business and he got the girl, Renee Zelleweger. Not bad, wouldn’t you say? A personal mission statement will make sure that, through all the texting, emailing and constant bombardment of on-the-go activity, you won’t lose sight of what is most important to you.

Mission statements can be simple and concise while others are longer and filled with detail. The length of your personal mission statement will not be determined until you follow this simple equation to create your motivational springboard for 2008.

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To begin your internal cleansing, you will need to jot down the required information in the following five steps:

  1. What are your values? Values steer your actions and determine where you spend time, energy, and most importantly, money. Be specific and unique to yourself. Too much generalization will not be as effective. It is called a “personal” mission statement for a reason.
  2. What are three important goals you hope to achieve this year? Keep your list of important goals small and give them a date. It is better to focus on the horizon and not the stars. Realistic goals are keys to ultimate success.
  3. What image do you hope to project to yourself? How you see yourself is how the world will view you. Think about this carefully. Your image should encompass what you look like and feel after you have achieved your goals.
  4. Write down action statements from each value describing how you will use those values to achieve your three goals. Start with “I will…”
  5. Rewrite your statement to include only your action statements. Make portable copies for your wallet, car or office.

If you followed the steps above, congratulations! You have just written your first personal mission statement. Your personal statement will change over the years as your goals change. You can have more than one statement for the different compartments of your life such as your career, family, marriage, etc.

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Writing a personal mission statement is an effective method to ensure your productivity is at its peak. It is an ideal tradition to start so that when next year rolls around, the outdated practice of resolutions will be something you permanently left in the past.

Featured photo credit: Álvaro Serrano via unsplash.com

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