Thoughts on this post? Share them with me on Facebook, join the SPANily or Tweet me at @angieatkinson. ~Angie

Guest Post By Ria Delight Megnin

life create yourselfHave you experienced “mission drift?”

In nonprofit circles, “mission drift” means making a change to your project to meet a funder’s requirements. And then another change. And then another… Soon, your entire organization is way off course, chasing elusive dollars and failing in its goals.

Since leaving my full-time editing position to become a freelance inspirational writer & speaker, I’ve paid bills by:

  • writing positive features for a local newspaper (on target!)
  • ghostwritten a book (still good!)
  • edited a financial website (kind of on track…)
  • and done a lot of babysitting (wait, when did that stop being just a side job?).

I’ve also invested hundreds of unpaid hours in volunteering, workshops, job applications and proposals that were only tangentially related to what I originally planned to be doing. So I wrote the following list to help me stay true to my most important goals:

How To Stop Mission Drift

1. Have a mission statement. This is part of any good business plan, which you’ve already written up. Right? If not, check in with the great volunteers at SCORE or other organizations committed to helping new entrepreneurs succeed.

2. Know what you’ll stand for. Write down your “must-haves,” “nice-to-haves” and “deal-breakers” for jobs before looking at listings or talking with potential employers. Will you work for less than market value? Will you take an unrelated job if it could lead to something in your field down the road? Will you apply on job boards or only through direct contacts? Make sure your answers are aligned with that mission statement.

3. Have a schedule. Believe it or not, actual production is only about 20 percent of a healthy business. The rest of the time goes to marketing & networking (30%), financial/business/legal matters (20%), and planning/preparations (20%). When you know you’ve only got a few hours a week to devote to finding new leads, you’re less likely to waste time on job offers that aren’t the best ones for you.

4. Be accountable. Check your business actions against your mission statement regularly. Are you drifting? Have a trustworthy friend, colleague or mentor available to help weigh any thorny decisions — and point out if you’re not being true to your goals.

I’ll close with an inspirational quote from one of my favorite authors, Sue Monk Kidd: “The way to find your (inner destiny) again is to be still and remember who you are, to listen to your heart, your inner wisdom, as deeply as you can and then give yourself permission to follow it. If you can’t give yourself this permission, then find someone who can.”

What others strategies have you found that help you overcome mission drift?

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