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Putting Your Future on Hold

Putting Your Future on Hold

It’s taken you ten minutes to navigate through the automated customer service system. Ten minutes in which you’ve hung up and re-dialed twice. But now you’ve cracked the code and a real person has answered.

“Thank God,” you say. “Look, this is my problem.” And you start to explain.

“Hmmm,” the voice says. “I see. Let me just check something. Putting you on hold.” And before you can speak, they’re gone.

Dah-de-dum. Dum-diddle-diddle-dee. It’s the tinny music. Then the pre-recorded voice.

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“Thank you for your patience. We have installed a new, automated customer service system to serve you better. There are…forty-six…people ahead of you in the queue. Please do not hang up.”

And you don’t, because by the time you dial again, they will probably have fixed the chink in their armor that allowed you to reach a real person, and you’ll be reduced to listening to the menu options that have always changed…and the tinny music.


Yet, as much as we are infuriated by such systems, people put their own futures on hold all the time. How to they do it? By setting conditions that have to be met before they can move on. How do you know? Conditional clauses beginning with “if” or “when.” Listen, they’re everywhere:

If only I could get a better-paying job, I could save enough to go back to school and improve my qualifications.

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When I’ve paid off the loan on my car, I’ll see about looking for a better job.

If I didn’t have so much to worry about, I could spend some time sorting out my life.

If I had a more understanding boss, I’d be able to tell someone how frustrated I am.

Many of these conditional statements are circular. You need better qualification to get a job that pays more…but you decide you can’t think about going back to school until you have a better paying job. You need to get your priorities in order to lower your anxiety…but you can’t spend time sorting your life out, because you’re too worried. Other conditionals put your future in someone else’s hands:

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If my boss would only realize she’s got me all wrong, I could show her how good I really am.

When business is better, I’ll ask about a raise.

When things calm down, I’ll take a vacation. Only I can’t leave it all to the others to handle right now.

You’re on hold, waiting until the condition is met. How long will that be? Who knows? Until then, you can’t do anything. Or so you tell yourself.

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How many of these conditionals are real? Do you truly have to wait on them being met? Be honest with yourself. How many are excuses? Excuses for taking no action because you neither believe in the objective, nor yourself. Only it’s easier to set a condition and claim to be trying — really trying — to do what’s needed. “Only, you see, it’s like this. When…” That’s when you’ll do it. Then. When Hell freezes over and the tax authorities hand out free money in the streets.

If your life is on hold, ask yourself who put it there. Why are you listening to the canned Mozart? Why aren’t you doing something, anything, to turn those fancy dreams of yours into reality? Are you truly stuck…or are you afraid to try?

Dum-da-da-dee-dum. Diddle-diddle-dee-dum. “Thank you for your patience. Your entire future life is on hold right now. There are…two thousand, six hundred and…ninety-six…persons ahead of you in the queue. Waiting time is estimated at…nineteen point…oh-six…years. Thank you again for your patience. Have a great day…” Click. BRRRRRRRRRR.

Adrian Savage is an Englishman and a 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 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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