Commentary by Lt. Col. David G. Hanson
23rd Space Operations Squadron commander
Let’s face it, your boss might tell you where to go, how to act and what to say. But truly, you control where you go in life. No one else determines who you want to be or how you choose to live your life but yourself. Others may influence you, but it is you who makes the decisions that shape who you are and what you believe in.
So who do you want to be? What do you want to do in life now while working for the military? What about after military life when you decide to separate, retire or find other employment? What kind of person do you want to be? What are your core values? We all struggle with these questions…but how do we get there? What is your plan? What road map will you follow to get there?
I challenge you to create a personal mission statement. It only takes a short time to create, but will pay dividends throughout your lifetime. I participated in Stephen Covey’s course, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, when I was a first lieutenant at Minot Air Force Base. During that course, we were required to create a personal mission statement, which I still maintain today. I set my yearly goals and, although I review it each year, most of the words are from the original document I created years ago. Here is a step-by-step guide to creating your own personal mission statement.
Start with short phrases or statements that are near and dear to you. These are your values or beliefs that make you unique. Some of mine include: Live according to my values. Believe in myself and my abilities and let no person, situation or factor sway me away from these. Leave a legacy, practice what I preach and be a role model and mentor.
The next section includes life goals. Be honest with yourself and continue to dream. A few of my life goals include: Retire from the military, run a marathon (done) and see my children graduate from college.
Follow your life goals with yearly goals. What major events or accomplishments do you want to achieve this year or at least get closer to finishing? Consider mine: Take my family on a vacation, run 200 miles throughout the year and have date night with my wife at least once a month. That last one got away from me for years until I wrote it down.
Finally, write down words to live by. These are your common sayings, words that define your beliefs. They are somewhat similar to the values in Part 1, but make a statement. Refer back to these often and people will know what you believe in. Mine include: Hard work now will pay off later and even through the worst — remain positive.
Take an hour to write down what is important to you. Dream about what you want to accomplish in life. Determine what you want to get done this year. If you do not plan it or neglect to write it down, chances are you will not make time to do it at all.
You now know a little bit of what is important to me. It’s time to look inward and chart your own course for the rest of your life. We determine our own destinies; your personal mission statement will help you get there.