The Entrepreneurial Engineer

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Resolved in 2006: List values, mission, and goals

The new year is an arbitrary but convenient time of the year to reflect on the past and make resolutions and plans for the future. At my recent TEE short course in Harrisburg (see here), I asked for a show of hands among those who regularly made professional goals or resolutions on an annual or more frequent basis. I was surprised to see only 2-3 people raise their hands (10% or so), because I know that short- and long-term personal planning are important elements in a personal success strategy for those who wish to steer their own life course.

For a long time, I merely went through an exercise of making a list of goals (personal, work, and financial) for the next year, but back in the early 90s I also drew up two other lists: a personal values statement and a personal mission statement. Now, in drawing up my goals, I take a look at the mission and values statement and think in terms of what things are most important to me and central to my life. Over the course of a year, I am usually gratified to see measurable accomplishment toward last year's goals, and over the course of a decade, I have seen progress toward living out my life's mission and values.

One of the hardest lessons for me in making these various lists has been trying to be true to my own heart. It is very easy to put things on your values, mission, or goals list that sound good but you don't really believe in. These imposter bullet points usually reveal themselves after a few years, but much wasted effort can be avoided by making lists that are consonant with who you are or who you want to be.

If you don't have a list of long-term goals, a values statement, and a personal mission statement, why not start 2006 out with a dose of reflection and added resolve to steer a course toward the life you would really like to lead. For those who are interested, chapter 3 of The Entrepreneurial Engineer (see here) covers these topics in more detail.

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