A Strategic Approach to Balancing Work and Life: Setting the Mission and Values
In the last post, we covered my story of learning how to “balance” work and life—a problematic conception. To sum up: I don’t aim to balance my work and life but approach the two with a similar mentality of concrete objectives and evaluations with an eye towards my vision. But that’s easier said than done. When I was spending time defining this new “balance”—how to approach my life in the same way I approach my business—I realized I needed tangible, fixed ideas. My mission and values.
You, inevitably, have to define these two for yourself. They’re unique to every organization, every person. But by defining them, you begin a worthwhile process with your business and, I’ll say it, Life.
Define Your Mission
A mission defines the fundamental purpose of the organization. One sentence that defines exactly how you’ll proceed from this point forth because it is why you exist. For us at PERQ, it is the common bond. Every other decision is a root of that mission statement. An example of one of my favorite missions is Nike’s: “To provide inspiration and perspiration to every athlete in the world.”
This is so unique to them. Great mission statements only work, and probably only resonate, for one company (or person).
Defining your mission is hard. Really hard. When I first set out to define my personal mission, I ended up changing the words a million times, trying to get it perfect. But once I finally defined the mission, it was as if I’d put a stake in the ground. An Everest flag.
My Mission: To leave a positive legacy for my family and to help make the word a better place than I found it.
A bit “Rainbows-and-Unicorns,” sure.
But it carries meaning for me. It is the guide to my decisions, helps me determine how I spend the most valuable asset I have: Time. In every scenario I find myself in—good or bad—I use my mission as a mantra, saying it out loud, even. If I get off-kilter, my mission is where I return. And when I use my mission statement as a tool, I remember my values.
Define Your Values
I think of values as the rules that I can’t break while following my mission and achieving my vision. There are no grey lines, only stark black and white. Define your values and know how to achieve them.
For me, that worked in list form: I sat down and created a list of the “rules” I’d learned through my experience. For your mission, your mantra, it’s okay if it’s generalized and encompasses many distant goals. But your values should be things you can measure yourself minute by minute, instance by instance. A list that gets added to as you learn from your mistakes and victories. Here’s mine:
- Family first.
- Manners and respect are table stakes.
- Failure is how I learn.
- Example is the only real way to lead.
- There’s a thin line between confidence and cockiness. I want confidence.
- Loyalty is cool.
- Don’t be a sheep.
- It can all disappear tomorrow.
For each of these values, there’s a story—a lesson I learned or observed through others. Some of these occurred outside my business, some within. But the key here is that, regardless of where I learned them, I apply them to both my personal life and business.
That’s what I mean when I say that “balance” is a falsity, a continually distorted rumor. You apply the same principles to both, and here, I found that my mission and my values applied to both.
As I said in the first post, this isn’t easy. Hell, I expect that 98% of people won’t or don’t do something like this. I get it. But for those of you who want to try something different—who believe in creating your vision and making it happen—this is my way of sharing my journey in doing so. Good luck. I’m always happy to answer questions along the way.
If you feel so inclined, please share your personal mission or values.
Next step—creating vision and strategy—coming later this week…