What is a mission? For some, it is a singular sense of purpose and meaning in their lives. I think that’s partially correct. However, a mission is not the result of specific acts (or actions) we take. It has everything to do with evolving your consciousness and awakening your creative power. How many missions can a person have in one lifetime? Is it possible to think in terms of having a different one at each stage? Yes! I reject perfectionistic fantasies about one’s lifelong mission. I find that the “all-or-nothing” philosophy is self-defeating, and it is diametrically opposed to true strategic decision-making. Our ultimate mission is about being, not doing.
To help illustrate this point, think of your life as (broadly) divided into three stages. We arrive at several crossroads on our individual journeys; each stage offers different dilemmas, different priorities, and different strategic decisions that need to be made. We investigate these stages in my new book, Great Decisions, Perfect Timing. They are Self-Discovery; Building and Providing; and Giving Back. Let’s discuss each stage of life as I’ve come to understand them.
The mission in Stage One is self-discovery and the primary strategic decision is in answer to the question: “What shall I try next?” As a result of trial and error – which might include a fair amount of job-hopping and, in the social sphere, dating a lot of different people – we trip across one or two things that utterly fascinate us. It may take 20 years for the reasons to fully manifest – as it did in my career story – but your natural fascinations are important at this stage of life.
Building and Providing
The mission in Stage Two is to produce and provide – for yourself and perhaps a family. It is during this stage that we master skills and build a livelihood that will support us and others. My career in the software business, followed by becoming an inspired entrepreneur, exemplifies this stage for me. My only goal during this stage was to make a living doing something I found interesting, and ultimately creating products and services that fascinated me. The primary questions during this stage have to do with managing resources, teamwork, logistics, and making tactical decisions.
The mission is Stage Three is giving back. It is the patron stage, where you’re a mentor, sponsor, and/or you engage in philanthropic activities. You’re creating a legacy. In fact, at this stage, you should ask: “What is the most impactful legacy I can create starting right now?” In my case, after I had mastered valuable professional skills and eventually sold the business I built in Stage Two, I chose to create a non-profit entity: the Divination Foundation. The Divination Foundation has a mission to help people make profound decisions and take the risks that will grow them.
Ultimately, your mission is not a function of what you do or have done, but it is to be a self-actualized human being. Always remember … it’s about being!