Why and How Engineers Can Define and Live a Meaningful Life and Career Mission

Why and How Engineers Can Define and Live a Meaningful Life and Career Mission

“Make your life a mission – not an intermission.” ~ Arnold H. Glasgow

What is your personal mission in life? Do you know? Do you care? Perhaps you’ve never even thought about this, or the idea of defining it is scary or daunting.

Perhaps you have tried to write a mission statement in the past, but now that you think about it you have no idea what you wrote and are certainly not using it as a guiding force in your life.

Or maybe you are one of the few who has defined and accepted your personal mission in life, and are actively working to live in fulfillment of that mission.

Wherever you are on the journey, let’s explore why defining your mission is important and how it can be a force for good in your life and the lives of the many you interact with and impact.

Why You Should Define Your Mission

“How different our lives are when we really know what is deeply important to us, and keeping that picture in mind, we manage ourselves each day to be and to do what really matters most.” ~ Stephen R. Covey

Engineers love solving problems. It’s one of the most frequent things I hear from them. It is thrilling to identify an issue and move through the problem solving process to create and implement a solution.

Defining a mission for your life is a problem to be solved – the problem to define your purpose. It is perhaps the most important problem you will ever solve.

Think of yourself as the hero in your own story. Luke Skywalker, Frodo Baggins, Harry Potter – they all had purposes and missions that were beyond themselves. It drove them beyond what they thought was possible and truly changed them.

Your mission should give you a drive to accomplish things bigger than yourself. It should help you define who you are trying to become.

Once you have it defined, you can live your life accordingly!

How To Define Your Mission

“Every person above the ordinary has a certain mission that they are called to fulfill” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Fast forward to a day when all of your loved ones and closest associates are gathered together. Your family, spouse/partner, children, best friends, people from your faith community, and people from your professional life are all there.

Someone who knows you best in each area of your life – personal, professional, and community – speaks to the entire group about your life, contributions, impact, and what they learned from you.

You are witnessing your own funeral service (perhaps a bit morbid, but go with me here).

What would you like these people to say? At the end of your life, how do you want the world (and perhaps most importantly, the people in it that are close to you) to be different? How do you want to be remembered?

The answers to these questions essentially form your mission. It’s an opportunity to define what is most important to you and how you intend to live your life.

There is no perfect template or tool to create a mission statement, although if you want one you can try out the tool from Franklin Covey.

But it must be something that is impactful to YOU, including perhaps a summary or one-sentence line that is easily remembered, and something that truly feels both authentic and ambitious.

When you write a mission statement, you don’t just put down the first thing that comes to mind and leave it at that. It will take you significant time. It will require careful reflection about yourself and what matters most to you. You should revise and refine it until it feels right. Adapt it as needed, but always be sure it’s grounded in honest principles and authentic ambitions.

Note: included in your mission statement should be your core values that we discussed in a previous article.

How to Use Your Mission

“You are here for a special mission. There is a purpose of your life. Find that purpose of your life, work on it and live your life happily.” ~ Raaz Ojha

If you create a mission statement and then never look at it again you’re missing the point. A mission statement is meant to be USED.

Once you have created it, go back to it often and let it serve as a reminder of who you are and what your purpose is. Spend time reflecting on it. Journal about how your recent actions fit in alignment with your stated mission. Identify adjustments you can make to increase that alignment.

Place your mission statement somewhere you will see it and be reminded of it. I paste it next to my desk in my office. Some people keep a pocket version in their wallet. Some keep it on their bathroom mirrors. Whatever works for you.

But put it to use. 

Take Ambitious Action

You’ve read about mission statements, now it’s time to create one. I wouldn’t expect you to be able to complete it today. But get started today. Find a template or a tool to help you if that’s what you need. Include your core values, a brief statement you want to live by, and how you intend to live. You can include concretely defined goals, or not. You may want to include a list of things you want to start and stop doing.

So start today, and schedule time in the following days and weeks to refine it. Make this something important to you, and it will become a guiding influence in your life.

Accelerate Your Career

If you’re ready to accelerate your career and leadership further and want some help doing it, here are a few ways I can help when you’re ready:

  1. Watch a FREE Engineering Career Masterclass – the 4 Keys to Intentional Engineering Career Transitions
  2. Enroll in the Engineering Career Accelerator – the exact system that hundreds of engineers have used to go from confused to thriving in their careers.

Schedule a free call with me to talk about getting personalized 1:1 and group support on your goals.