Set your (personal) mission (a.k.a. We goofy consultants)

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cited this “fact” to my clients: in a study of Yale graduates tracked over the decades, the most successful (the top 3%) had one thing in common: they all set their goals. Turns out I should have done my homework. A recent article in Fast Company shows that this study never happened. Just goes to show how silly we consultants can be.

This debunking notwithstanding, goal setting has its place. You benefit from simply going through a goal setting exercise. Pausing to take stock, question assumptions, and look freshly at things in your world leads to helpful insights. Your biggest insights are those that highlight your purpose(s) in life.

Uncovering your purpose in this world, answering your life’s “why” is a powerful potion. When you answer this “why” question, you build a sense of mission and propel yourself successfully through life. Without this sense of mission, you flail. Here are some symptoms:

  • Difficulty getting everything done.
  • Poor personal habits (e.g. time management, exercise, diet, work
    management, organization)
  • A feeling of being somehow lost in life or an aspect of life (e.g. career)
  • Lack of energy or passion in work.
  • Dragging one’s self to work, meetings, calls, etc.
  • A feeling that you’re simply going through the motions
  • Asking, “Is this all there is?”

Show me someone with any of these symptoms and I’ll show you someone who can dissolve them by tapping into his or her unique mission, purpose, aim. (He or she will also score low on the Self Direction scale of the Attributes Index assessment.)

Want a hint on how to find this mission? Check out Stephen Covey’s new book, The 8th Habit. Here he says that your mission is the unique intersection of your talent (what you’re good at), your conscience (what you know to be right and wrong), your passion (what you love), and human need (what small or large needs you see in the world).

Final hint: your mission is now. It is not a someday thing. Don’t believe you have to wait or defer your mission. Yes, you have to plan, take action, and learn. But you must establish your mission first. Too many people have died leaving their mission unfulfilled because they didn’t think they could ever get where they needed to go. And here is where the power of goals come in. When you set your vision, then take inventory of where you are now, you can make realistic plans and have all the energy and passion you need to fulfill you purpose. Please start now, whereever you find yourself. The world needs you.

One thought on “Set your (personal) mission (a.k.a. We goofy consultants)

  1. Ha! Great FC article. I hadn’t heard that. Funny enough that you mention Covey’s book (which is great) in the same article as the Yale debunk…I just went to FranklinCovey’s FOCUS workshop a couple weeks ago, and our facilitator cited the study during the goal-setting portion of the training. Delicious irony.

    The thing that bothers me about the Fast Company article–which is interesting in itself, and this is not a slam on FC, because I love their Consultant Debunking Unit features–is it doesn’t mention whether similar studies have ever been done elsewhere, and makes no attempt to clarify if, in fact, evidence exists to contradict the study.

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