WHY YOUR LIFE NEEDS A
THE SAME STRATEGIES USED TO CREATE A BUSINESS PLAN CAN TELL
YOU IF YOU'RE ON THE RIGHT TRACK IN YOUR CAREER AND PERSONAL
We‟d all love to say we wake up in the morning feeling exhilarated--joyful even--and
move through the day with purpose and intention, but the reality is most of us spend
the larger part of our day going through the motions, feeling exhausted and
wondering what the point of it all is.
Gallup's 2013 State of the American Workplace Report showed only 30% of
American workers feel engaged or inspired at their jobs, and the vast majority (70%)
feel they aren‟t reaching their full potential.
Management consultant and coach Allison Rimm, author of The Joy of Strategy: A
Business Plan for Life says it‟s possible for all of us to find joy in our business and
personal lives, but to do so requires strategy.
Rimm spent 16 years as a senior executive at Massachusetts General Hospital
where, in addition to her duties as vice president of Strategic Planning and
Information Management, she informally coached and mentored co-workers. “I had
people ask me „should I take this promotion?‟, „Is this the right career move for me?‟,
and I would say 'How can I tell you if this is a step in the right direction if you don‟t
have a direction,'” says Rimm.
She recognized the same strategic planning concepts she had been using
throughout her career applied to the individuals she was coaching through difficult
life and career transitions. She began advising these individuals to make a mission
statement for their lives. “They left my office [after that exercise] feeling re-
energized,” she says.
“TOO MANY OF US WAIT FOR A NEW OPPORTUNITY TO COME ALONG. AN ORGANIZATION
WOULD NEVER LEAVE THEIR BUSINESS RESULTS TO CHANCE”
Rimm says not having a direction is the number one mistake we make in our careers
and personal lives. “Every great strategic plan starts with a declaration of an entity‟s
purpose that expresses why they exist, what they value and what they intend to
accomplish,” says Rimm. Too many of us, she argues, wallow in our unhappiness,
waiting for a new opportunity to come along, or something that will change our
current situation. “An organization would never leave their business results to
chance,” she says. “You would never get an investor to put up money for a project if
they couldn‟t see what the return was going to be on that investment.” In order for a
business to know that they‟ve been successful, they first need a mission statement.
Forming a personal mission statement means identifying your purpose. While this
may sound like too profound a question--on par with the meaning of life--Rimm says
asking “what am I here to do?” isn‟t as challenging as it seems. Here, she walks us
through what it takes to make a personal mission statement:
FANTASIZE ABOUT YOUR PERFECT DAY OR WEEK.
What do you need to have in a day to make it joyful? For Rimm, a joyful life meant
connecting with people on a daily basis and doing something that made a valuable
contribution to someone else‟s life. Make a list of all the things you need in your day
to make it joyful. Perhaps it‟s as simple as spending time outdoors every day or
seeing your kids off to school. “It‟s not picturing yourself on a beach with a pina
colada, but what you need to make your life meaningful to you,” says Rimm.
LIST YOUR PASSIONS.
Finding joy in your career and life means knowing what you‟re passions are. If you
have trouble coming up with your list of passions, think about the best experiences
you‟ve had, what you do when you‟re procrastinating, or what you daydream about.
IDENTIFY YOUR TALENTS.
Conduct your own SWAT analysis by listing all of the things you‟re good at. If you
find it difficult to conduct your own talent inventory, ask others around you to tell you
what they think are your greatest strengths. Another way to find your talents is to
examine your past accomplishments. Think of something you‟re particularly proud of-
-a stellar presentation you made, a major donor you secured for a fundraiser, or a
party you organized that people are still talking about two years later. Next, examine
the skill sets that made you successful in that instance. Creating a mission that
aligns with your natural talents means success will likely come easier.
CONSIDER CORE VALUES.
Your personal mission statement must reflect the things that matter most to you.
These guiding principles help you to set priorities.
Armed with your new mission statement, you can then begin to put together a
strategic plan for how you‟re going to get to where you want to go. Rimm says she‟s
had clients who hang their mission statement on their wall to remind themselves
every day of what matters most to them and to help keep them on the right track.