As the news continued to pour out of Trump Tower this week about billionaire-selections for cabinet-level posts, and the promise of America took further hits to its central purpose, I dusted off my own mission statement to see if I was living up to snuff. As I explained back in March this document is a statement of my core principles in life; a reflection of the the value of Tom being Tom. It’s a rewarding exercise in discovery I recommend to all human beings of at least moderate self-awareness and current levels of evolution. This site can help you get started.
As I looked at mine, I immediately caught glimpse of certain passages and intentions that needed an update. I decided the best way to go about improving it was to break it down, sentence by sentence, to ensure relevancy. Below I show my work. Here’s what I learned this week, about Tom:
My mission is to delight in life, to show appreciation for each new day.
This I do remarkably well. Okay, sometimes I do this too well, but that’s the price of loving life. I believe we only get one crack at life (since I’m not the spiritual sort) so I think it’s important to enjoy every day and surround myself with positives. I don’t think any of us can afford to wallow in the muck too long, even when the world does stupid things. It does. It always has and always will, long before I came and long after I’m gone. But for these eight to ten decades, I get to be me like nobody’s business. I intend to do that well and enjoy the hell out of it. For the most part, I do.
In so doing I will not wallow in remorse of past things or fear the things to come, but instead revel in each trial knowing that it is in the fire that we are forged.
There’s that wallow word again. I haven’t been wallowing in any kind of remorse lately, so that’s good. In fact, 2016 has been a pretty good year for leaving things behind that wore heavy on me. I have been able to move on. And except for a genuine concern over the possibility of tyranny in America, I haven’t spent much time fearing the things to come. There isn’t much I can do about that, anyway, that I haven’t already done, so it would be pointless to stew too much. What’s that line about accepting the things we cannot change and wisdom and whatnot?
The last bit, about being forged in the fire, seems aggrandized to me. I’m not writing poetry here but a statement of purpose. Everything after the comma is irrelevant. Fires will come; sometimes they will forge and sometimes they will burn. I don’t need that reminder.
For myself I will practice balance, seeking a habit of meditation, moderation and temperance in my daily living.
In a way this has been a very balanced year for me. I have balanced revelry with responsibility, indulgence with discipline, and conflict with patience and understanding. But there are times when my moderation and temperance are out of whack with my mission, and that’s something I can work on. My habit of meditation fell apart early in the year but I have discovered a new level of reflection in my writing that seems to have taken its place. This section needs rewording.
For others I will strive to help them in their journey as I continue to define my own.
I’m not as good at this as I could be, and this has been a divisive year in some ways. I find myself in need of a greater understanding of the voyage that others find themselves on. We do not all have the same boat; we do not all sail the same seas. This line stays as it is but requires effort on my part in the form of greater empathy.
I will show love, devotion, adoration and encouragement to the love of my life, my wife and partner, every day.
I do this. I show my love and devotion daily and even when I misstep – which I do, bless my heart – I try to make corrections quickly. I fail at this most when I think I understand what is better for her than she does. Empathy, again. My mission will be clearer as I strengthen that quality.
I will remember that success, like happiness, is a product of effort and focus.
This line is fluff and will be removed from the next draft. The definition of success in my life is happiness, and I cover that in the first line of my mission. The rest of the process is about effort and focus. This line is unnecessary.
I will honor the thoughts and traditions of others even as I strive to break from traditional thought myself.
This is my favorite line of the whole exercise, and the very definition of who I am along my path. I am a big believer that many of the things that hold us back as individuals, and as a humanity, are related to our obedience to traditional thought. Things like religion and nationalism are impediments to our evolution. I am always seeking to shed such constraints to be freer in my own world view, more objective in my analysis. However, I strive to never disrespect others’ devotion to tradition. For many, it is that which defines them in their personal journey. It is not mine to judge, but to learn.
I will always seek to gain a higher perspective on my path to wisdom and personal evolution. I will find solace, and a creative outlet, in writing.
Mostly fluff. Sounds airy and all, but unnecessary except the last part.
So, after a year of staying mostly on mission, the statement gets a revision while it becomes more succinct:
My mission is to delight in life, to show appreciation for each new day. In so doing I will not wallow in remorse of past things or fear the things to come. For myself I will practice balance, seeking revelry and contemplation in equal measure. For others I will strive for empathy so that I can help them in their chosen path. I will show love, devotion, adoration and encouragement to the love of my life, my wife and partner, every day. I will honor the thoughts and traditions of others even as I strive to break from traditional thought myself. I will seek solace, and creative outlet, in writing.
Nice. But I think I’d like to make it more colloquial, like I’m talking to myself like a real person:
My primary goal is to delight in life. Just enjoy it. Time is short and there are so many great things about being alive. I want to spend as little time as possible wallowing in what was or worrying about what will come. I want balance. I love nothing so much as revelry, nothing so much as reflection. I want to understand the journey of others, and help them along their way. I will love the missus unconditionally at all times because she’s the best. I will be who I am, and let others be who they are, honoring their traditions even as I break from tradition myself.
And I will write. I will write all the time. That’s my thing.
I think I may like that better. Either way, it’s small enough to fit in my wallet now.
So tell me … what’s in your wallet? 😉