You have a life’s mission: a contribution to be made to the world and a legacy to be left. This mission is a function of your core passions, your talents, and your objectives. Like any mission, accomplishing it is attended by obstacles and opposition along the way. This has seemed particularly true in 2020, carrying over into 2021. But there are a few interrelated steps that you can take to make sure you remain undeterred, and stay on mission:
2. Stay in your own lane.
You may have strong opinions about many spheres of life, but unless one or more of those is your field of expertise, don’t dissipate time, energy, and resources there. Instead, throw your energies and resources into those areas of life that are part of your own personal mission and purpose. If you keep veering into others’ lanes, you will soon crash and burn; if you stick to your own lane, you will make good progress!
3. Take charge of the narrative of your own life.
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we can’t control many of life’s circumstances. Conversely however, we need not allow circumstances to control us either. No matter what the circumstances, we can and must stay on mission! Sure, the circumstances might require us to make strategic adjustments, but we need not allow them to rob us of our mission altogether. This means facing up to the reality of the circumstances, but rather than bewailing them, asking ourselves, “How can I adapt to the new information and reality?” What seems adverse may in fact push us to think even more creatively, thus taking responsibility for our own outcomes. Soldiers on mission are often faced with changing circumstances, usually unfavorable. But this simply prompts them to devise new strategies while maintaining laser focus on the goal. In the words of Winston Churchill, “… These are not dark days; these are great days… and we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race.
4. Ignore the squirrels.
I have a highly intelligent, intensely energetic, and… overly distractable German Shepherd/Border Collie mix. Squirrels, crows, cats, flies, spiders – you name it – all distract him from the task at hand. Teaching the command “leave it!” and at times physically interrupting his straying off course in pursuit of the distraction, has been the only way to keep his attention on the mission at hand. These are particularly distracting times: the pandemic, social upheaval, economic downturn, political polarization… all these and more can have us spinning from one distraction to the next. We too, need to discipline ourselves to “leave it!” and proactively interrupt our own tendency to stray after every passing diversion. Most of us can’t personally change the “squirrels” that seem to be running in all directions all around us. But we can effect change in the long-term by maintaining laser focus on those things we were put on this earth to do. That is what will make a difference in the world and leave a lasting legacy.
5. Ain’t gonna stop the rain by complaining…
No adverse circumstance is altered one whit by expending energy on complaining about it. Certainly, there is a time and place to acknowledge and mourn the losses of the past year, and the ongoing losses of the present. But the danger is always that we inadvertently allow negativity and complaining to become habitual. Doing so saps our energies, robs us of motivation, and causes us to sink into self-focus and apathy. So while we indeed allow time and space for grief, it is also important that we consciously allocate time and space to appreciate beauty, to laugh, to show caring and compassion, to express gratitude, to play, to “sing in the rain”… And yes, to apply our God-given talents in energetically pursuing our life passions with joy, making the most of the precious resource of our moments and days while we yet have them, and until we can truly say, “Mission accomplished!”