Back on Track
Every so often I get stuck on worrying about my place in life. My thoughts are consumed with where I am now, where I’m not, and where I intend to go in the future. Am I far behind my friends and peers? Am I on the right track? Even if I spend some time celebrating accomplishments or practicing gratitude, it still sometimes feels like I have a disconnect. As a teacher, I think that this feeling often approaches in the summer after finishing a school year and waiting for the new one to start. There is this sense of opportunity, a desire to be spontaneous, and wanting to have that summer adventure that changes your life. I’m only a few weeks into summer break so stay tuned on that last one! When I do feel a bit lost in life either socially or professionally, something that helps me is remembering my values, defining a vision, resetting my mission, and creating new goals.
The first step is remembering my values. Our values are the fundamental beliefs that have significant meaning or importance in our lives. They guide our thinking and decision-making. I consider which values have been steadfast over time and which ones have been changed or have become more of a priority. It’s okay for our values to change and grow as we do! Sometimes this means making more room for what makes sense at the time or spending less effort in other areas. I have consulted values lists and assigned a ranking system to the words or ideas that are most important to me moving forward. My top three values always revolve around relationships, education, and joy! Remembering these things helps me see the ways that I am fulfilling my values in my daily life.
My values are the foundation for my own personal vision. Vision statements are inspirational and aspirational and should challenge us to grow. I like to use vision boards or other visual representations to help me organize my thoughts to create something meaningful and clear. I have even used “The Tree of Life” activity to help explore and brainstorm ideas for my vision. The exercise allowed me to ponder my past and present as well as look ahead to the future. Almost like a life roadmap! I found that my vision is to inspire learning in and out of the classroom. Groups and organizations can use this activity or something similar to create their own vision statement or vision board.
Then I use my mission to put my vision into action. Our missions support our visions, giving us purpose and direction. A mission makes me think of escape rooms. They are such an adventure! If you are unfamiliar with them, people are put into locked rooms with puzzles that must be solved in order to unlock a door. Similar to an individual or group mission, challenges or obstacles can manifest while trying to live out a vision. Focusing on an overall idea of what you or your group is designed to do is the key to delivering the vision. Right now, my mission is to be more effective with my time so I can focus more on bringing myself and others joy.
Finally, setting a few attainable goals provides me with clear action steps. I often use the SMART goal method (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely) or sometimes I begin my mornings by thinking about how I want to be perceived by others. Some of my newest goals are:
- This month, spend one hour each day focusing on learning a new, joyful activity.
- By the start of school, spend 4-5 hours a week preparing curriculum for the academic year.
- Each week, reach out to 2-3 friends or family members to check in with them.
These goals help me know exactly how I can make my vision and mission come to life. For groups, having goals written out and displayed in a common space could be helpful in keeping everyone aligned and on track.
Many individuals and groups may face similar challenges as I have. It can be difficult to stay productive or maintain a positive attitude when we feel like we aren’t making progress or our achievements are difficult to recognize. Taking time to choose individual and group values, create a vision, agree on a mission, and set goals can be helpful in moving forward from a place of feeling “stuck” or uninspired. I often have to remind myself that taking the time to work through these steps is a major accomplishment to celebrate!
Follow this process yourself! Give yourself the space and time to really reflect on each of these steps. After you determine your top values, give yourself a week to really think about how they show up in your life or how you may want to change certain habits to fulfill them better. Then, you’ll be able to really create a vision that encompasses those values in a significant way. Revisit and revise your vision a few times before your commit to a mission or goals. And then make sure to establish checkpoints so you can evaluate your progress!
*Meet the Author*
4 yrs with Leadership Inspirations
B.A. in Integrated Educational Studies from Chapman University
M.Ed. in Secondary Education from Regis University
My Favorite Quote: “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” –Oscar Wild
Quick Facts About Me: 1) My dream job would be an SNL cast member, 2) I love to plan parties and 3) I sing in my car like I’m performing a sold-out show.