A Great Verb for a Mission Statement

Today, I ask students to tell me what they will devote themselves to in their future careers.  In two sentences, they tell me 1) what they want to contribute to their field and 2) a few professional goals.

As we read aloud our statements, I’m suddenly aware of how self-focused and self-promoting such an assignment might become.  We listen to independent dreams and glorious self-actualization.  We build private kingdoms with our names on the highest building.

But one woman announces that her primary professional goal is collaboration.

Collaborate means to work together towards a common goal.  It’s a great verb to think about for a career and a life.  While many of us forge ahead with solitary tasks and private ambitions, we forget the power and importance of collaboration.   My student recognizes her dependence on other people and other organizations to reach mutually beneficial goals.

I start to wonder with whom I might collaborate in my life.   Is my personal goal really a communal one?  Is my self-focused personal dream really a much larger project involving a system so much bigger than myself?   How much more efficient might we become if we collaborate?

That verb challenges me to think about myself as a collaborator and not a solitary agent pushing my own agenda.  I know I’d often rather work alone, but surely there is strength, vision, and synergy when I collaborate.

Journal:  Sometimes I think I’m too busy trying to make a name for myself to consider the value of collaboration towards shared goals.  What people or groups might I collaborate with in my parenting, teaching, writing, and ministry goals?


2 Ways to Handle Life Transitions with Flair

You can handle a transition (new job, end of a semester, a new marriage, a death, a birth, anything new) by:

1.  Reminding Yourself of your Personal Mission Statement

2.  Imagining a Kite

I know, this is not what you expected today.  Let me explain.  I get depressed and anxious every time I enter a new life phase.  I don’t like change.  Not many people do.  As I sat down to try and figure out how to handle my transition to summer with flair, these two things grounded me.  Since a change of routine disables all our normal coping mechanisms, sometimes the body fights by any host of symptoms: anxiety, depression, fear, uneasiness, and sometimes a paralysis (you want to sleep all day and not face the new).  It’s like my identity crumbles apart with change.  This doesn’t have to be the case.

I remembered the semester I made myself write a Personal Mission Statement.  I promised my students that a mission statement helps us make good choices, enables us to navigate change, and delivers us safely to the other side of life transitions.  Mission statements stabilize us.  Today, mine anchored me.

Finding a mission statement takes time, but once you write it down, life feels more settled.  Here’s an easy way to frame a mission statement:

I am devoted to__________________________.

My goal is to ___________________________ by _______________________.  (use strong verbs here.  See “5 Ways to Write with Flair.”)

So, for example, here are some of my mission statements:

I am devoted to excellence in teaching.  My goal is to build writing communities by generating atmospheres of trust, acceptance, and inspiration.


I am devoted to being a fun mother.  My goal is to create lasting memories for my children by planning unmediated nature experiences, building a neighborhood, and training them in the art of friendship. 


I am devoted to being a great wife.  My goal is to support and inspire my husband by helping him fulfill his dreams, partnering with him in his endeavors, and creating an environment of predictable joy in our home. (That last part is a stinker for me.  Pray for me.) 

When I recall my mission statements, I always feel less unstable.  No matter what transition I’m going through, my mission statement remains fixed.  It tells me that I have goals to pursue even if everything in my schedule unravels. 

Now for Part Two:  Imagine the Kite

Last night I watched my children fly kites.  A kite is what I feel like when I’m undergoing a transition.  I dip and I dive, I crash land, I jitter and jounce.  But if I remember I am tethered and held by a Strong Hand, I can relax and know that eventually, I’ll find the right air current and soar.  

Living with flair means I’m assured of my mission, and I relax on the journey up.