Two years ago, I was on my porch, in my pajamas, hoping no one could see me dragging a soggy pizza box back into my apartment. After a night of binge-eating a medium pepperoni-and-olives, caramel ice cream, egg rolls, cookies and cola— interspersed with heaving sobs of self-pity—I had set the pizza box outside in the drizzling rain in the hopes that I wouldn’t sink low enough to retrieve it. How wrong I was.
At that moment, I was two months out from a gut-wrenching separation from my husband. I was taking care of my then 2-year-old girl, and wondering what in the world I was going to do with my new bleak life. I was actually wondering if, at 28, that life was over. I was spiraling. “Motivation” was light years away, in someone else’s life at the moment (I’m guessing on a stair-stepper.)
A wave of disgust came over me. I heard a tiny muffled voice, screaming from inside me, “Get. It. Together!!”
Somehow I ended up hunched over my desk for the next hour writing out an elaborate, heartfelt personal mission statement. I included my values, my dreams, my vision for myself and my daughter. You can imagine it didn’t involve eating soggy rain-pizza at seven in the morning.
Now, two years later, I can proudly say that I’m a happy, single mom. I dropped sixty pounds. I run marathons. I support myself financially, meditate, and generally like myself and think life is pretty awesome. Why? Because I took a time-out to nail down my values, my vision and my plan and craft my personal mission statement. At the time, I was writing out of a place of pain and desperation.
What I didn’t realize was that I was tapping into the natural questions we must ask ourselves when we craft our own personal mission statement:
- What are our values? What do we want from life?
- Where do we envision ourselves in a month, a year, ten years?
My story isn’t anywhere near the Fortune-500-Let’s-make-a-million-dollars realm. Sometimes the words “mission statement” are synonymous with suited execs in boardrooms. But at that point in time, when I just needed to see, on a physical piece of paper, that everything could be ok, the principles were the same. Mission statements meet you where you are—in good times and in bad.
So how can we make sure we remember our mission statement and it doesn’t just end up shoved in a notebook and stuffed in a junk drawer? Out of sight, out of mind applies here. Put important words and ideas where you can see them. I taped my mission statement on the bathroom mirror, and I plastered my apartment with little quotes and mantras to help keep me in the “spirit.”
Basic things like “Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can,” helped calm me. They got me out of bed and into the shower. Quotes about not giving up, like Theodore Roosevelt’s “It’s not the critic who counts…” were particularly motivating.
Companies like this one have ready-made pads full of inspiring quotes, so you don’t have to go searching for your own. You can just peel and stick.
On your closet door, on your laptop, your phone, your steering wheel, your dog. Words have power. They are magical tokens that can help move us from where we are to where we want to be. Whether that’s from our couch to the gym, or into a whole new tax bracket.
Quotes like these were actually the secret ingredient to keeping me on track. Positive thinking became a habit, and reviewing my personal mission statement became a natural daily occurrence. By changing my environment, I changed myself.
It’s inevitable that at some point we will all fall, but if we take the time to write our personal mission statement, nurture it, and never let it go, we just might stick the landing.
QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: