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?
“A lot of people don’t enjoy their job, they may even hate it, but I am lucky enough to be able to make a living through my passion.” ~Martin Yan
Seven years ago, I was working a job I didn’t love. I had a cubicle (albeit a big one) and I lived in the corporate world.
My career, while it was interesting and certainly kept me busy, was completely unsatisfying.
What I really wanted was an opportunity to do what I really loved–to be a writer. I even took on all the writing work my corporate job would allow.
I wrote letters to patients and to insurance companies, forms, brochures, training manuals, articles for the company website and more–you name it, I wrote it.
And then, one day, it happened–I lost the job for no legitimate reason. My boss of just a few months (who I had trained myself) decided he didn’t like the fact that I was a female running an all-male department (very successfully, for the record).
When he fired me, I asked him for any legitimate reason or proof of my inability to do the job–he could provide none.
It was simply a case of office politics gone wrong, and at first, I was really upset and angry.
But I quickly realized that I had manifested the situation myself.
You see, while I didn’t absolutely hate my job, I definitely didn’t love it. I had to talk myself into going to work each day, and I watched the clock closely as those eight hours draaaaaaaged on each day.
I secretly hoped I’d be fired, because then, I thought, I’d have an opportunity to focus on my true passion–writing.
And that’s exactly what I got.
So, I started my freelance writing business. It took a couple of years to really start bringing in a “real” income, but I loved the work, and it was worth it to me.
(Tip: Want to get out of the rat race? Check out my work-at-home jobs board or my freelance writing jobs board over at Practical Freelance Writer’s Guide!)
I am so grateful to be among the ranks of people who get to get paid to do what they love, and I want everyone to have that opportunity.
That’s why, this week, Project Blissful will offer daily posts on work and career fulfillment. Along with my guest posters, I’ll be covering a variety of work and career-related topics each day this week.
We’ll cover how to know you’ve found your life’s work, how to stay sane at work, tips to improve productivity and working simple, and more.
I’m the wife of Marco, mother of Sadie, assistant to Bert, daughter of Jim and Karen, friend to many, foe to a few, a smidgeon bilingual, a smattering of a baker, a slinger of sarcasm, a lover of laughter and have a passion for writing (with a tendency to over-share).
I’m not one of those people who always wanted to be a writer. It wasn’t because I didn’t enjoy writing, because I did. I just didn’t realize it was a talent.
That discovery didn’t come about until my college years.
In high school, I remember my English teacher, Mrs. Nelson, asking me if she could submit one of my writings to a fair and I thought “well sure, but why?”.
I didn’t know that not everybody could do what, apparently, I was doing well. I had no idea that people couldn’t just get out their pen and paper, now laptop, and pound away at the keyboard to express themselves. I didn’t have a clue that sucking people into a story I had written was a gift that others sometimes struggled with.
It was just something that I did, when the assignment was called for, that is. I didn’t start writing for pure enjoyment until 2006 when I started my mission to lose weight. I started a blog and man, did I love the freedom of writing down my thoughts and sharing my experiences… the good, the bad, the ugly (that’s where the over-sharing comes in).
I hope you’ll enjoy reading my ups and downs as much as I enjoy writing them. Don’t fret though, I won’t limit my writing to just the battle of the bulge. I’m open to sharing just about anything (remember that over-sharing we discussed?) so feel free to leave comments and ask questions.
After my recent Facebook poll on what makes people happy, I posted a link to the resulting blog post in the thread so that those who I’d featured could read it. Another of my friends, who hadn’t seen the status on Facebook before I’d written the post, commented later, and she really made me think. The comment came from a fellow writer and one of our WM Freelance Writers Connection bloggers. She’s got a wicked-sharp sense of humor that makes me wish I knew her in “real life.”
“I’m a total sucker for a compliment,” she wrote. “Could be for my writing, my parenting…my hair, my shoes. Doesn’t much matter. (Good shoes=happiness. See?) Also, facing a fear, understanding it, working through it and realizing everything is still okay…that’s a less Pollyanna form of happiness for me.”
I’m totally with her on the facing a fear thing, but that compliment part really got me thinking. Even though I laughed when I read her thoughts (as I often do–girl is hilarious), I also knew she was on to something serious there. The fact is, I don’t know very many people (save for a few sullen teenagers) who don’t love a good compliment. (more…)