3 Dining Rituals for Optimal Nutrition

3 Dining Rituals for Optimal Nutrition

What do athletes, writers, chefs, speakers and even surgeons have in common? Highly Effective Rituals.

The word ritual may summon visions of mysterious practices, but in reality, rituals are simply habitual activities that hold meaning and invoke intention.

Rituals prepare us mentally, physically and emotionally for what is ahead and allow us to experience the benefits of an activity before we even begin . So, how does ritual impact nutrition? And, how can we create rituals that support our nutritional goals?

#1 Proper digestion starts with food preparation. Prepare your own food whenever possible. This is a sound recommendation for a number of reasons, most commonly for the benefit of knowing the type and quality of ingredients being used. Here’s another good reason. By selecting and preparing your food, you set an intention very early in the process for these items to nourish your body.

Create a simple ritual around preparing meals. Grab a favorite apron, turn on the music, pour a glass of wine. Preheat the oven or set the water to boil. Anything that broadcasts the message “I am in the kitchen—wonderful things are about to happen.” Once you’ve established a ritual, you will be surprised how quickly it becomes a focal point of the day and how inviting this time and space will become for you. By preparing the food at home, the sights and smells of food preparation engage the body and prepare it for digestion even before the food enters your mouth. When was the last time your mouth literally watered? That was the start of good digestion.

#2 State of mind, while eating, can literally affect the nutritional impact of that meal. Eating under physical or emotional stress raises cortisol levels, which may prevent the body from producing the necessary enzymes  to digest food and extract nutrients properly.

Create a simple ritual around dining at home or away. Turn off the TV, sit down at the table—yes, we’ve all heard that one before. Put your napkin on your lap, pause for a moment to feel gratitude for the food before you and set the intention for it to nourish your body.  If the food was prepared by someone else, take a moment to appreciate that gift as well. These brief, intentional moments can provide health benefits even if the meal itself is simply carryout.

#3 Take special care when preparing meals eaten away from home. Do you typically scoop some leftovers in a plastic dish and toss it, along with an “energy bar” and a piece of fruit, in a paper bag on your way out the door?  Is it any wonder that most of us would rather go out and grab something else, anything else, than eat that lunch?

A little preparation can change the whole experience. Create a simple ritual around packing your lunch. Start the evening before, after dinner, while you are still in the kitchen mindset. Leftovers are very popular (and easy) in our house.  When practical, precut food for easier reheating and eating. Be sure to include condiments, sauces or dressings if they were part of the original dish.  Use a reusable lunch bag that is big enough to hold your dishes, flatware and condiments. Avoid plastic. Reusable glass dishes, in a variety of sizes are more pleasant to eat from and safer to reheat than plastic. Use real flatware. Plastic utensils are expensive and rarely hold up to a salad that’s worth eating. Grab a napkin and you’ll be ready to eat where ever your day takes you.

These simple rituals not only contribute to the pleasure of eating, they can enhance the nutritional value of the meals you eat.

Optimal Health is a lifestyle choice and rituals are a great tool.  What rituals do you use to enhance your health journey?

Share
You’re in Control!  Pre-Pre-Diabetes (Part 3)

You’re in Control! Pre-Pre-Diabetes (Part 3)

According to the Center for Disease Control (DCD), more than a third of American adults—around 86 million—have prediabetes, and 90% of them don’t know it. They predict that unless major change occurs, 1 in 3 adults with have diabetes by 2050.
You don’t have to be one of them!
Pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes are lifestyle diseases.  Any true solutions need to be lifestyle based. And the best news: your lifestyle is completely within your control.
I know that those of you reading this, those of you who have commented and sent questions are invested in actively managing your health. I congratulate you and I’m excited to be moving forward with you to not only to prevent diabetes, but to optimize your health.
We all know that diet plays a major part in the development of as well as the prevention or treatment of diabetes.  But have you heard that sleep is almost as important? Did you know that too much or the wrong type of exercise can adversely affect blood sugars?  Sometimes the solutions seem simple:
Diabetes is a disease of hyper (above) normal glucose (sugar) in the body. The solution would seem pretty straight forward:  stop eating “too much” sugar.  But when the questions of what is “too much” and what should we should actually be eating come up, it can get pretty confusing.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is all the rage, for a very good reason, it’s a great way to exercise. BUT, only if you can tolerate it, otherwise it will cause more harm than good. Proper types and levels of activity are about balancing the benefit with the risk of injury.
Even getting the proper amount of high quality sleep isn’t as straightforward as it may seem.  Finally getting your solid eight hours may be counterproductive if it’s accomplished by sleeping until 10 am on Saturdays and Sundays.
The optimal formula for each of us is not only different because we are individuals, but also changes as our bodies change.  Age, chronic illness, childbearing, nutritional status are just a few of the factors that impact what our bodies need right now to be truly healthy. And, yes, I believe you can optimize your health even with a chronic illness.
Look, I know you read the books, you listen to the podcasts, you are so ready to make a change in your life, but you still have questions and there are still some things that you’re unsure of. Let’s clear up the confusion.
You don’t have to figure this out on your own. And most importantly, you don’t have to end up with a diagnosis.
This is an opportunity to take charge and turn your health around. I’d love to share the journey with you.

Cyndi Lynne

Share
Pre-Pre-Diabetes Q & A (Part 2 1/2)

Pre-Pre-Diabetes Q & A (Part 2 1/2)

This was to have been the final segment of a three-part series.  Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here.
BUT…the comments from the first two segments have convinced me that I need to pause here and do a Q & A.  So here are the top 5 comments and my thoughts.
“My sugar [level] was 110, but my doctor didn’t say anything about it.” Doctors have become quite accustomed to seeing abnormalities in lab values and many do not address levels that don’t dictate medical (prescription) intervention.  This is very similar to the standard medical approach to overweight and obesity.  Many physicians won’t bring up excess weight of “only” 20-30 lbs unless the patient specifically asks about weight loss. Even physicians are sensitive to the issue offending patients and in many cases they can’t offer a real solution, so they don’t bring it up. Additionally, in the presence of  multiple abnormal lab values, other areas of concern can be perceived as more critical and/or easier to address.  For example, elevated cholesterol levels can easily be address with “dietary advise” and a prescription.  If you’ve been following my work, you know that cholesterol is not the enemy and addressing blood glucose levels will have the most significant impact on overall health.
“I don’t really want to go in and get tested because I don’t want to take drugs.” This statement reflects the way that many people feel– completely at the mercy of someones else’s decisions. In spite of popular talk tracks and even the stated mission of healthcare facilities, very few people truly feel that they they are in a partnership with healthcare professionals. And many argue, why bother going to a doctor if you aren’t going to do as he/she says? It’s important to remember that medicine is driven by Standards of Care (and reimbursement codes). Standards of care may dictate that a physician prescribe a medication. For example, certain drugs in certain doses are prescribed for specific cholesterol levels. Even more important to remember is that your decision to take medication is entirely your own. Knowing your body and how it works empowers you and gives you confidence in working with your physician as an active participant in your health. I strongly advocate taking responsibility for your own health. Does it take more effort, yes.  Does it put you in control, yes.  Is it completely worth it, YES!
“I’m not overweight, so I can’t have type 2 diabetes.”  Approximately 15% of individuals diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are not overweight.  Inactivity, poor nutrition and genetic predisposition can lead to metabolic disorders in individuals that may otherwise appear healthy. Although optimizing blood glucose levels frequently leads to optimizing body composition, even greater benefits occur internally through optimizing metabolic health. Developing your optimal health formula means understanding not only your body’s response to glucose, but also to sleep, exercise, stress and many other factors.
“I don’t want a diagnosis of pre-diabetes in my permanent medical records.” This is a very real concern for people. When someone receives a diagnosis (Ha! it sounds like a gift!) they will forever have that diagnosis in their medical records. In the traditional medical paradigm, there is no cure for diabetes, it can only be managed and controlled. So regardless of subsequent normal blood glucose readings, “once a diabetic, always a diabetic.” There is also the affect that being diagnosed with a “chronic” illness has on an individual.  Living daily with the thought “I am diabetic” does not contribute to overall health, in fact it does just the opposite. It can be extremely challenging to feel healthy when you are constantly being reminded that you are sick. Many of my clients have had elevated blood glucose, they make changes in their lifestyle and optimize their health. There is no value in spending emotional energy on a diagnosis for a situation that no longer even exists. There is tremendous power in taking charge of your own health. You can have that power and you don’t need to figure it out all by yourself.
“My doctor said if I just lose some weight, even 10 lbs my blood sugar will improve. But I just can’t lose the weight.”  This is the comment that most frustrates people, especially people that have tried very hard to lose weight, only, in many cases to gain more with each attempt.  This statement is frustrating to me because it is completely backwards!  It is almost impossible for the body to burn fat in the presence of elevated levels of glucose and insulin.  The body is burning the sugar that is needed immediately and then storing the excess–that’s what insulin does, signals the body to store excess energy.  By optimizing glucose levels, the body is able to access fat stores for energy resulting not only in weight loss, but more specifically in fat loss.
Thanks to the folks who are brave enough to share!  I will continue to respond individually as always and when the comments start becoming common, I will share them with all of you.
Together on this journey,
Cyndi Lynne

 

Share
Pre-Pre-Diabetes (Part 2)

Pre-Pre-Diabetes (Part 2)

Welcome back! I hope my last post inspired you to take a look at your numbers and see where you fall on the blood glucose continuum.  If you haven’t seen Pre-Pre-Diabetes Part 1 you can read it here.

So perhaps you have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes.  In accordance with the standards of practice, you most likely would have been referred to a dietitian or the American Diabetes Association for dietary guidelines.  And faithfully following these guidelines, including eating whole grains, lean meats, starchy vegetables and non-fat milk and yogurt will almost guarantee that you will develop diabetes.

Or perhaps you were curious, like I was, picked up a glucose monitor and tested your blood only to find that you weren’t spending as much of the day under that 85mg/dl as you would like. Remember, 126mg/dl is the diagnostic value for type 2 diabetes, 100-125mg/dl is considered pre-diabetes, but research has shown that levels below 85mg/dl correlated to the best long term health.  Now what do? Research!

I started reading everything I could find on the causes and management of elevated blood glucose levels.  Ironically, the massive amounts of information available in print and on line make sorting through all of it the real challenge.  What I found, boiled down to two schools of thought:  The entrenched, ever repeated American Diabetic Association dogma and “alternative” health sites. This dichotomy left me feeling stuck. I could play it safe and follow a standard of care, blindly, which meant ignoring so much of what I had already learned– so much of what was starting to make practical sense to me.

Or I could “go it on my own”, and take full responsibility for my health. I didn’t want to manage a disease, I wanted to be really healthy for a long time.  And although this take-charge option appealed to me,  I couldn’t help but feel a bit hesitant.  What if I made a mistake? How would I be judged if I needed medical care at some point? The real irony being that, in my experience, people are judged less for their poor health decisions like smoking than they are for choosing a nontraditional healing path.  I also wondered if I would have the energy to take control of my health and deal with family and friends who choose differently? A support system can be really critical.  And on top of it all, I’d spent years as a nurse in the traditional medical system, those entrenched ideas don’t die easily! I had encouraged low-fat, low sodium diets and tried and struggled with them myself. I realized I couldn’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results. I had to take the leap.

I took control of my health and haven’t looked back.  I learned exactly what causes my blood sugar to rise and how to maintain consistant levels.  I learned exactly what causes my body to store fat and to burn it. And most importantly, I learned that there wasn’t some secret formula out there that I could read or buy.  The secret formula was unique to my body. Optimal health is not one-size-fits-all.

Discovering your own optimal health formula is the critical piece missing from so many programs. We may all start out with similar body function and chemistry, but through years of living, each of us develops our own imbalances and subsequent health issues. That’s why the Doctor-approved, best selling diet and exercise plan that works so well for your sister or your friend may not do a thing for you and may even be harmful.

Choosing differently is the only way to get a different result.

I work with three types of people:  Those who have been diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes, who don’t want to spend the rest of their lives on medication. Those, like myself who had a suspicion that they may have something going on metabolically and people who have tried diligently to lose weight, aren’t able and somewhat fearfully wonder if something more is going on in their bodies.

If you are reading this and thinking, this all sounds so familiar!  Let’s talk.  You don’t have to figure this out on your own. You don’t have to end up with a diagnosis. You don’t have to spend years doing research to learn that there are other options when it comes to reclaiming your health.  This is an opportunity to take charge and turn your health around. I’d love to share the journey with you.

Cyndi Lynne

 

 

 

Share
COMING SOON: Pre-Pre-diabetes (Part 1)

COMING SOON: Pre-Pre-diabetes (Part 1)

Have you ever wondered how medical diagnoses are developed?
A diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes is widely accepted and understood. Individuals with Fasting Blood Glucose (FBG) levels >126mg/dl or 7 mmol/L receive a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes.
FBG levels are considered normal when they are < 100mg/dl.
So essentially that leaves a group of individuals whose FBG was between 100 and 125mg/dl who were not within “normal” range and yet do not qualify for a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes.  So, a diagnosis of Pre-diabetes is created.  The reason a formal diagnosis is so important in the medical community is that a diagnosis is tied to a billing code for reimbursement as well as standards of practice that drive treatments and medications which, in turn, are also tied to reimbursement codes.  You can probably see where this is going.
So here is the real health question:  What is so special about the “normal” level of 100mg/dl?  Really, nothing.  It is a somewhat random value, set, then revised years ago.  It is used as a basis to determine whether treatment is warranted or not.  And although it may be considered “normal” from a diagnostic or statistical standpoint, it is not necessarily an positive indicator of current health or a predictor of future health.
In fact, fasting levels of < 85mg/dl seem to predict much better longterm positive health outcomes.
This study showed that those with fasting plasma glucose levels of 95 to 99 mg/dL, (within normal range) were more than twice as likely to develop diabetes as subjects with glucose levels < 85 mg/dL .
This study showed that there is a progressively increasing risk of heart disease in men with FBG levels > 85 mg/dL, as compared to those with FBG levels of 81 mg/dL or lower.
So although the title of this article is a bit tongue-in-cheek, it’s not entirely so.  Remember doctors are looking for a dis-ease that they can diagnose and treat, and in order to be treatable (and reimbursable) a dis-ease needs a name. So, if the trend continues and doctors begin to realize that even a FBG of 100mg/dl is not ideal, Pre-Pre-Diabetes may just be the next big thing.
The good news:  there is no need to wait for the medical model to catch up with optimal health practices!
What is your fasting glucose level? Are you in that 85-99mg/dl range?  Have you been diagnosed with Pre-diabetes?  Are you trying to sort out what this means for your health and what actions you need to take?
If you’re resigned to having diabetes or are looking for the magic pill, you won’t find what you’re looking for here.
But, if you want optimal health and you want to take action before you end up with a diagnosis, I can get you on the right track. And, if you’ve already been diagnosed, know that pre-diabetes is completely reversible with the right plan.  Message me here or set up a call and start to take control of your blood glucose and move towards optimal health.
 Watch for the next segment on how current treatments and dietary recommendations can actually accelerate the progression of the dis-ease.
Share
How do you want to Feel?

How do you want to Feel?

How do you want to feel? “Good”, I hope, “great”, maybe “healthy”. These are typical responses I get when I ask my clients that one little question. But when they are pressed to go deeper, the responses shift to what they need to do, or what they don’t want, and the feeling is often left out. “I want to lose 30lbs”, “I worry about becoming diabetic”, “I just want the pain in my hips to stop.” “I want to try yoga, but I don’t know how to start.”

When we lose track of what we want to feel and experience, we are often left with a list of shoulds. And we start shoulding all over ourselves. I should lose weight, I should exercise, I should start running again, I should meditate, I should eat kale, I should, I should, I should…and then we don’t. Because should rarely comes from a powerful or constructive place in our psyche. Should automatically creates a conflict between what we want and what we perceive is the appropriate course of action. And conflict is exhausting.

This shoulding is supported by the messages in health an fitness magazines and popular media. Do any of these recommendations sound familiar to you:

  • Pick a physical activity that you think you should do, start doing it, (Don’t worry if it’s suitable for your current state of health and fitness). “Anyone can start running, all you need is a pair of shoes.”
  • Set a goal to do a certain number of minutes, reps or miles per the published schedule. (Don’t deviate or you won’t meet your goal.)
  • Push through the pain. Pain is just the body ridding itself of fear…wrap it, tape it, wear a brace, just keep working toward your goal.
  • Get up earlier, stay up later…whatever it takes to make this goal.
  • Ignore your hunger, eat six small meals a day (everyone?).Don’t let yourself get hungry…

*Become frustrated, or worse yet, injured (because that goal is in no way tied to how you want to feel, in your body or in your life). Give up.

Okay, that last one is my addition, because this is what I see and hear when clients come into my office. Beside the injury that brings them in, they are tired from over exercise or incorrect exercise, hungry from restricting calories and fat and frustrated because they have tried so hard. Often they simply want to give up on trying to get healthy.

So we start with the question: how do you want to feel? Yes, we lead with the heart. Our bodies are amazingly tuned to want to feel good. For example, our bodies want to move and if they are well rested and properly nourished, they will move naturally. And the more we move, the more we seek out ways to enjoy new types of movement, movement that our body will crave and we will actually look forward to doing. What does your body really want to eat? Does your mind want that for your body or are there food addictions causing your mind and body to be misaligned? Food is nourishment, medicine and part of our social structure.How does your food make you feel?

You deserve to feel good. You deserve to have all of the time and effort you expend lead to what you truly want to feel and experience. You don’t have to be injured to make this shift!

In a short call we can determine how you really want to feel and what the first steps are to get you there!
If you recognize this cycle and are ready to choose something different, let’s chat.

 

Share
11 Ways to Drop the Guilt and Enjoy the Holiday Celebrations

11 Ways to Drop the Guilt and Enjoy the Holiday Celebrations

My clients often speak tentatively about their upcoming parties or events. They are a bit sheepish describing the amazing restaurant or family chef, expecting me to caution them not to overdue.  So they are often surprised when I say “That sounds fabulous, enjoy.” or “Be sure and check out the wine list, I hear it’s great.”
Life is about enjoyment.  It’s about experiences.  And food and drink are some of the most commonly shared experiences we can have, especially around the holidays.  Many of the traditions we enjoy are focused on food. So how do we navigate the minefield from Thanksgiving to New Years and still stay healthy?
  1. Say YES, to the events you really want to attend, decline the rest.  If you feel ambivalent about attending, you will certainly feel conflicted about what you consume during the event.
  2.  If you are invited out for a meal, remember it is only one meal.  Maintain your normal pattern the rest of the day.  There is a tendency to skip breakfast or lunch to “save up” for dinner, but that usually back fires.  It’s more difficult to make good choices when you’re really hungry.
  3. During a dinner party or event, choose items that you really want to eat. We often eat what we think we should eat, and then eat what we want to eat.  Keep it simple, eat only what you really like.
  4. After the event, return to your normal healthy routine.  If you don’t have one, get one!
  5. Unless you have food sensitivities or allergies, go ahead and indulge in those most prized treats. If you only get your grandmothers sugar cookies once a year, enjoy a couple. If cranberry relish is a favorite, now is the time. If Christmas Day lasagna is a family tradition and you love it, great.
  6. Slow down and really taste your favorite foods.  Notice the flavor and texture, revel in it.  No guilt, pure joy.
  7. If you notice that an old favorite doesn’t taste as good as you remember, don’t finish it.  Perhaps  the memories associated food may have been what you enjoyed, more than the food itself.
  8. Realizing that you are free to eat what you like can reduce the stress of attending parties and events.That’s the same stress that often causes us to overeat.
  9. Eat with intention.  Pause and set the intention to enjoy the food, let it nourish your body and warm your soul.
  10. Feel gratitude for the food and the hands that have prepared it.  Your hosts are sharing their best with you.  Appreciate the thought and gesture, even if it is not your usual cuisine.
  11. Skip the regret.  When you look back on the evening before, remember the conversations, the time spent with friends and family and the wonderful meal with pleasure.  Regret will not change what has already happened. You are always free to make alternate choices next time.
If you set the intention to enjoy this holiday season and all it has to offer, your behavior will be consistent with your plans and expectations.  That is the perfect recipe for joy.
To your best holidays ever,
Cyndi Lynne
PS, if you don’t have a healthy routine that you can return to between holiday events, click here.  We still have time to put a plan in place.

 

Share
5 Steps for Thriving this Holiday Season

5 Steps for Thriving this Holiday Season

At some point, do you find yourself just trying to survive the holidays?  That was my plan for many years until my “survival scheme” left me sick and in bed for the first week of January.

I was always very excited about a few special events, then my calendar would start to fill with work obligations, school programs and distant relatives passing through town.  I’d rationalize, its only a couple weeks.  But if you’re like most of me, you feel the start of the holiday season somewhere around mid November.  So by the time we ring in the New Year, that’s more than six weeks of so-called survival.

I’m sure I should have prioritized better, but each event crept in, one at a time, and I hadn’t yet learned to say no.

So what is my fool-proof plan for thriving during the holidays?

1. Know your limit.  Mine is a max of 4 events in a week.  You may feel fine with more, but remember it’s about thriving, not just surviving.  This is part of being discerning and selective with your time and energy.

2.  Subtract 1.  Limit-1=events booked.  It’s that simple.  When you are accepting invitations or hosting parties ask yourself is that event is worthy of one of your precious time slots.  Don’t just fill up your time because there isn’t anything else on your calendar at the moment.

3. Just say no–or better yet, ‘No thank-you’  I’ve had to practice the art of “saying no”.  No, is a complete sentence.  You are not required to explain yourself.  A simple response is always best.  “Thank you for thinking of us, but we won’t be able to make it to your cookie decorating party this year.  I hope you have a wonderful time.”

4. Guard your down time.  Evenings without events are your recovery and recharging time.  Working late is not down time, it should be considered one of your “event” evenings.  It doesn’t sound so appealing in that light!  Instead, enjoy being at home, eat a bit lighter and healthier, go for a walk after dinner, take a hot bath, get to bed a bit early or just putter around choosing that special outfit or a great hostess gift for your next event.

5. Stay flexible.    Does that sound a bit contradictory?  It’s actually not.  This is where the “subtract 1” comes in.  If you unexpectedly have to work a late night or better yet, get tickets to an amazing performance you can accommodate that without going over your limit. Because you have the other pieces in place, you will be much better at sorting out what’s really worth your time and energy.

Having a plan and sticking to it does more than just keep your schedule in check.  It can give you a real sense of control during what is a stressful time for many.  Having a plan and learning to stick to it is also the foundation of personal integrity–and that’s an absolute necessity for thriving.

Share
Feeling Gratitude for a Place and Time

Feeling Gratitude for a Place and Time

I had the pleasure of attending a Naturalization Ceremony for US citizenship this past week.  It was held at the River Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, so I expected, perhaps a couple of hundred people, including guests like myself. What I witnessed was 533 individuals, from 81 different countries take an oath to become an American citizen.  I was amazed, somewhat by the number of people, but more so by the number of countries being represented.  Keep in mind, Minnesota is the midwest. I would have expected numbers like these in New York, Miami or Los Angeles, but here!  As the ceremony began and as the name of each country was read, I couldn’t help thinking of how much some of these people had overcome, just to be standing in this room today.

For many, just leaving their country must have been difficult, but after arriving, there is a lengthy process involved in becoming a citizen; applications, interviews, even a civics test.  100 questions on topics I know I must have learned at some point (fourth grade?), but many of which I’ve long forgotten. And, as I listened to the judge, in this official court proceeding, my thoughts began to shift from all of those strangers in the room to myself and my life here in the United States.  I was born here and I consider myself very patriotic, but I admit, I take many of the privileges of being a citizen for granted.  I’m always proud to be an American, but that day, and each morning since, I’ve made this thought a part of my gratitude practice:  “I feel immense gratitude for being born here, in this country.”

Another part of the event, was devoted to completion of a voter registration form.  A very distinguished lady, from the League of Women Voters, walked the group through the process of filling out this form that will allow them to participate in one of the most important parts of a democracy, voting.  I participate in all elections, and although the right to vote is something that I appreciate as a citizen, it’s one I often take for granted as a woman.  I am truly grateful for being born at a time when I am able to freely exercise my rights, including the right to vote.

So as I congratulated the newly minted citizens around me, I paused a moment to “renew my citizenship”, feeling immensely grateful for being born in this place and time.  I challenge each of you to look around at what you may be taking for granted each day and renew your appreciation and feel gratitude.  I’d love to hear what you discover.

Share
Creating an Inspired Personal Mission Statement

Creating an Inspired Personal Mission Statement

We detect rather than invent our missions in life…Viktor Frankl

Most of us have an idea of what we believe in and how we want to live our lives.  We may have strong emotional connection to these  values and beliefs and yet many of us would be hard pressed to articulate a personal mission statement.

Words like honesty and integrity come to mind, and both are excellent guideposts but neither really give a sense of purpose.

A personal mission statement can provide clarity, giving you a sense of purpose, defining who you are and how you intend to live your life.

So, if you already have an idea of your values and what you want to do with your life, why is it so important to be able to articulate them? After all, they are kind of personal.

It can be invaluable to articulate and formalized those thoughts and ideas, even if you never intend to share them.  A personal mission statement is one way to do that.

Once you have your mission defined, it can serve to help you make decisions about how you want to interact and share your life with others. More specifically, being very clear on your personal mission can help you make the best use of your time, talents and resources.  What could be more inspiring than that?

And, if a couple of paragraphs can help maintain control over your calendar, why not give it a try?  Sit down with paper and pen, or your computer and work through the following steps.  It may take a few intense sessions one weekend or several brief sessions over a couple of weeks.  There is no magic word count, but typically 1-2 paragraphs should be enough to include what is important while challenging you to really be specific and distill your thoughts.

  1. Identify your past successes.  Where have you excelled?  Look at these successes and note any common themes.  These are most likely areas of strength and interest.
  2. Identify your values both ethical and moral.  Start with a long list then, distill it down to the most important ones to you.
  3. Identify your roles.  As a parent, spouse, co-worker, yogi, friend, teacher, caregiver etc.  These represent the individuals and groups with which you will interact.
  4. Identify your goals, both short and long term.
  5. Using this information, create a personal Mission Statement.  Write in a positive voice, using clear concise statements.  This may take several drafts.  Write it out, read it out loud and hear how it “feels” to you.  Revise, edit and read it again.
  6. Reassess your Mission Statement every few years to determine if you are living according to your mission.  Maybe your life has strayed from your mission, or maybe your mission has evolved. 

Up to this point, this exercise itself can be very satisfying for the insight it provides.  But, now, as the statement is complete, it can start working for you.

Besides bringing clarity, your personal mission statement can be used as a tool to objectively evaluate requests for your time and resources.  It can be very flattering to be asked to serve on a board or committee, or be asked to represent a charitable cause.  Now, using what you have written, you can ask yourself “will the time and effort I spend fulfilling that obligation align with and support my personal mission?”.

Not only does this process help you avoid spending time and resources where you may not want to, but also serves as a way to seek out opportunities that further your mission.

I would love to hear your mission statement or know what you thought of the process.  Comment below, or if you want some help creating your personal mission statement, let’s chat.
Share