Busted Halo

Most dating and relationships books, columns and shows won’t go near issues of faith. Author, professor and speaker Dr. Christine B. Whelan assumes faith has some role, and tackles even the toughest questions.

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March 3rd, 2011

Who Are You? (an excerpt from Generation WTF)

Why Understanding Your Values Is the First Step to Success

 
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Finding Your Purpose

I grew up with very supportive, enabling parents who provide for me in every manner to be expected. However, I am acutely lacking any serious desire to excel in anything. That’s not to say I’m depressed or pathetic, just that I lack a central motivation or ambition.  — Aaron

A purpose is that final answer to the question of why? Why are you doing what you’re doing? Why does it matter? Why is it important? Finding your purpose, argues William Damon, author of The Path to Purpose, means figuring out what drives you on a daily basis, what motivates you to achieve those immediate goals, and what inspires you to keep going when the going gets tough.

Myriad psychological and behavioral research has found that finding purpose and meaning play significant roles in wellbeing. It turns out that one of the prime predictors of being happy and healthy in old age is whether you had a sense of purpose going through your life.

Purpose can be big or small. Studies show that most people find purpose in their jobs — even if those jobs aren’t exactly glamorous. If you wait tables at a restaurant, perhaps you realize that your purpose is to have people leave happier than when they arrived. If you input data, perhaps you realize that the data you are carefully entering affects decisions on a much broader level. As Damon writes, “noble purpose can be found in the day-to-day fabric of ordinary existence.”

Purpose is intentional. Purpose means doing something like you mean it, not just because you’re going with the flow. And when you do that, studies find, different parts of your brain are activated, and you
start to learn and grow in faster and more efficient ways.

Purpose is the reason for your goals. While goals and motives come and go, your sense of purpose — your answer to the question “why?” — is the end goal that drives them. You might want to do well on a test, or save enough money for a summer in Ghana, but what’s the reason for that? To get good grades to go to medical school to help save lives? To save money to travel to learn more about world culture so you can affect global change?

Purpose can change over time — and can evolve. Purpose doesn’t need to be something huge like curing cancer or feeding the world’s starving. Those are great goals — and do give many people purpose — but anything that you find challenging, absorbing, or compelling, anything that takes you out of your own head and allows you to make a contribution to the greater world around you — that’s purpose.

Again, purpose is the “why” behind what you do — and it’s probably the most fundamental statement about who you want to be. It’s thinking bigger than short-term things like self-promotion, status, and  things. But if you’re like most of Generation WTF, you’re getting a bit panicky now. What’s your purpose?

(SEE PDF for EXERCISES TO FIND YOUR PURPOSE.)

Putting It All Together: Your Personal Mission Statement

In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey encourages his readers to craft a personal mission statement that will guide their decisions. This statement should be the “basis for making daily decisions in the midst of the circumstances and emotions that affect our lives. It empowers individuals with the same timeless strength in midst of change.” For Generation WTF, creating that kind of personal mission statement is crucial.

Your personal mission statement is a combination of your core values and your sense of purpose that will guide you through the tough career, personal, and financial decisions that lie ahead. Look back at your values. Look back at your notes on figuring out your short-term and long-term purpose. What does this tell you about who you are — and who you want to be?

Covey compares a personal mission statement to a personal constitution: It doesn’t change much over time and it represents our core beliefs. Your mission statement will guide you in making both daily and major life decisions and will empower you to have strength in the midst of challenges.

Here’s how to get started:

  • Think of sentences that begin with “I will . . .” It can be a list or a series of paragraphs.
  • Take notes for a few days — and add to the mission statement as you work through this book. Post a draft of your mission statement online at www.generationwtf.com to get feedback — and read the mission statements of other Generation WTFers.
  • After you’ve written your personal mission statement, make sure you’ll be reminded of it in the future. Go to www.generationwtf.com to find out how I can remind you of what you wrote months from now.

Creating a mission statement isn’t something that will happen overnight, but it also won’t write itself. So use the space on the next page — or the pages in your journal — to think about what you might like to include. Look back to your core values as an early guide.

If this seems a bit challenging, you’re not alone: Testers found that this exercise required a good deal of thought. You don’t wake up every day with an end-game in mind because “the end” — whether it is the end of the semester, the end of an internship, or the end of your life — seems too far away to easily contemplate. Those who accepted the challenge and drafted a mission statement, though, said it changed the way they approached decisions both big and small. Thinking about your values, finding your purpose, and crafting a personal mission statement gives direction to your life — and it puts you way ahead of your peers.

“A personal mission statement has helped me because it made me realize what I want in life, how I want to do that, and the reason for what I want in life,” said Katherine. “I realized that I want to graduate from college, go to grad school, and get a good job as a counselor. These things can make me a better person. I need to remember that my grades now will affect the future.”

A big part of Katherine’s mission statement was to focus less on material objects and more on character and happiness. “By not being obsessed by material possessions, [I can] keep my character in check [and stop] worrying if I have the latest iPod.”

Crafting a personal mission statement means making a commitment to your values — and beginning to understand your purpose in life. Get started now jotting down ideas and personal pledges, and then, for the next few weeks, as you read and work your way through this book, let it be a work in progress.

Because we’re going to be referring back to your values, your purpose, and your mission statement personal promises often, you might want to use this page to copy down what you’re thinking so far — so you’ll be able to more easily flip back to remind yourself of these values as you work through the rest of the book.

 

My name is                                                       .

Today is                                     . I am                years old.

My FIVE CORE VALUES are:

  1.                                                       
  2.                                                       
  3.                                                       
  4.                                                       
  5.                                                       

My FIVE CORE TALENTS are:

  1.                                                       
  2.                                                       
  3.                                                       
  4.                                                       
  5.                                                       

In the next ten years, my PURPOSE will be to:

  1.                                                       
  2.                                                       
  3.                                                       
  4.                                                       
  5.                                                       

The key concepts I want to include in a personal mission statement are:

  1.                                                       
  2.                                                       
  3.                                                       
  4.                                                       
  5.                                                       
Pages: 1 2

Pages: 1 2

 
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The Author : Christine B. Whelan
Dr. Christine B. Whelan is an author, professor and speaker. She and her husband, Peter, and their dictator cats, Chairman Meow and Evita Purron, live in Pittsburgh. Her book "Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women" is available in stores or at the Halo Store.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • Greg

    @ Ted and Roisin, Whats wrong with taking a negative ‘WTF’ and turning it into a positive ‘WTF’? I see that as a positive but to quickly are people looking to tern negative these days.

  • Roisin H

    @ Ted, I agree with you completely. I find this site to be more secular than Catholic and use of term ‘WTF’ inappropriate. Actually this site has lost its way in the secular stream of relativism.
    I was shocked to hear Richard Rohr and Sr Edith Prendergast, new age type Catholics,interviewed last night by Fr Dave.
    Roisin

  • Ted

    Holly…what the author (and this website in general when it uses headlines like Lent and Other Four Letter Words) is doing is equivalent to mooning the audience to get their attention, then doubling back and saying “…what I really mean is this…” There is no legitimate reason the author had to choose WTF on a Catholic website. This is an asumption on her part that this appeals to her audience–an assumption that young Catholics are the same audience that watches the Family Guy.

  • Holly

    Ted, I still think you are ignorant. You really should read the introduction page.

  • Ted

    I’m not looking for reason–there’s plenty in-your-face material on this website. “Meeting the people where they are” does not mean following them into the bathroom. Anyone can use potty talk to grab a headline. That’s what the author is doing and I object to it.

  • Holly

    Ted- get with the program. The F is a play on a popular term….she is reclaiming it for the glory of God. Please stop looking for a reason to condemn someone for reaching out to our youth.

    Christine–this is a great work! Thank you for speaking to our teens and young adults in such a profound and soul seeking way!

  • Ted

    Don’t lie…you know what the F stands for in WTF.

  • Jill

    Ted – F stands for fearless. I’m not exactly part of this generation (too old) but would like to be considered fearless.

  • Ted

    I wonder what your values are when you label an entire generation with the F word…

  • Margot

    sounds like a great resource–I’m going to share it with my students.

  • Christine

    Thanks, Jill!! Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. Join on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/generationwtf) for tips that build on the book, too.

  • Jill

    Started to read this and then realized it was going to be very helpful to me and my current station in life. So instead I just ordered the whole book! Looking forward to updating everyone on what I think.

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