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Rose “fell” into her PR career right after college, taking a temporary job to tide her over. That job lasted ten years.

While Rose had enjoyed her job, she always felt like something better was out there, that she was missing something. But until her layoff, she never hit the “pause button of life” long enough to evaluate the direction of her professional or personal life.

Most successful businesses have a mission statement describing their purpose along with a business plan defining what they do.

What works well for businesses also works well for individuals, especially if you’re in a career transition like Rose or are simply seeking a new direction. 

Creating your personal life plan helps you focus on where you are, where you want to be and how you’ll get there. It’s a bit like having your very own personal GPS for the personal and professional direction you’ll take.

“Writing or reviewing a mission statement changes you because it forces you to think through your priorities deeply, carefully, and to align your behavior with your beliefs.” ~Stephen Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

The process of figuring out what you want to do purposefully with your life and mapping out accompanying goals is simple yet complex. 

The steps involved are straightforward.

The complexity arises from first deciding to be purposeful rather than random; and then doing all the heavy lifting of identifying your interests and goals, letting go of things getting in the way and finally finding a complementary career, volunteer work, and hobbies, etc., to keep your actions in alignment with your purpose.

Sometimes you have to “let go” to let other things “come in.”


Turning on your personal GPS

1) Define what you do well, like to do and makes you feel purposeful.

Richard Leider, author of The Power of Purpose, believes that “the purpose of life is to live a life of purpose.”

2) Identify what you want to accomplish, both personally and professionally, and write it down.

There’s nothing like putting pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard to create clarity. Think of this as your personal mission statement. Here’s an example from Google that illustrates mission statement content: “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” A company without a mission statement has little clarity on what it will do; the same is true for individuals.

3) List what you need to start doing, stop doing and continue doing.  

This real benefit-producing step of the process requires honest and thorough self-assessment. Rush University Medical Center, a teaching and research hospital in Chicago, released a study on aging and activity in 2009. According to Patricia Boyle, neuropsychologist and assistant professor of behavioral sciences at Rush, “If you find purpose in life, if you find your life is meaningful, and if you have goal-directed behavior, you are likely to live longer.”

4) Define your goals and make an action plan. 

It’s only when we combine our dreams with action that we realize successful outcomes. Thinking, hoping and visualizing are helpful exercises to shape your focus yet are insufficient on their own to produce results. Gotta make things happen!

5) Commit to action, learning, failing and trying again.

Hold yourself accountable to taking small steps every single day, whether you want to or not. (The siren song of procrastination plays loudly some days). Expect to take a misstep or two, that’s all part of it. Give yourself permission to fail; learn from those failures and move on. Celebrate your successes: throw a party, dance on the beach, eat chocolate, watch a sunset, send yourself a gift.

Having a plan creates direction.

Direction produces focus.

Focus leads to productivity.

Productivity makes results. 

Results create confidence and success.


What other steps should be on this list?

Image source:  morgueFile