Our mission (yep, we’ve already chosen to accept it!)

How can it be that the week is almost over (and the linky is about to close!!) and I haven’t managed to write this post yet? We actually wrote our mission statement mid-week but until now I haven’t sat down and written about it.  Still, no time like the present. Creating our mission statement was reasonably straight-forward and quite fun. I’m sure the reason I found it so hard to narrow down my list of core values was because I put a lot of pressure on myself to create a list that was FINAL and would be true forever more. But of course it is impossible to predict how things might change (how I might change) over time.

So this time I just decided I was going to be happy with whatever we came up with that is right for us at the moment. There was no pressure that we had to come up with a mission statement that would stand the test of time. It didn’t have to be perfect, final and non-negotiable. Once I had sorted that out in my head, it was a really fun process.

I was determined to include our soon-to-be 4 year-old in the process of creating our family mission statement but really wasn’t sure how that would go. I’m happy to report that although I’m not convinced he understood the big picture of what we were trying to do, he was certainly happy to contribute to the dinner table conversation we had prompted by Deb’s questions.

He came out with some incredibly beautiful comments. Things like “I am most happy when we are all cuddling” and “I think we should always be kind and gentle with each other”  and “When we feel sad we talk about what is wrong and then cuddle and kiss”.

He had some really important things to say: “I hate it when we rush”, “I think we need to be silly and laugh more” and “I love it when we all play”. And in response to me asking him several times for his thoughts on a particular question: “Mummy, I’m not talking because my mouth is full!” Fair point.

Meanwhile, our baby girl made her own important contribution to the conversation by reminding us how much we value good food and looking after our bodies. Avocado…….yummo.

After the kids were in bed, hubby and I did our best to pull it all together and in fact, it was a pretty smooth process.

So….drumroll…..our family mission statement looks a bit like this:

We will love and respect one another and respect all the other living (and non-living) things in our lives.

We will be kind and gentle with one another.

We will make time for each other and ensure that we genuinely connect with one another by talking and listening and cuddling. We will truly share our lives and support one another.

We will be silly, play, have lots of fun and laugh.

We will spend as much time outdoors as we can connecting with nature.

We will prepare and eat nutritious, delicious food.

We will be active and look after our bodies.

We will take advantage of every opportunity that comes our way and not be afraid to try new things.

We will never forget how incredibly lucky we are for so many reasons, particularly the people in our lives, where we live and the freedom we enjoy.

We will be active members of community who contribute and never forget how much we can learn from other people.

We will try not to take things too seriously!

Could do with a bit of pruning, but this is just fine for now.

The ebb and flow and persistence of values

Although I have been thinking about my core values a lot during the past 10 days or so (yes, I am very late with this post), I have been putting off writing about them. But this afternoon I decided I just have to do it – before the end of the day. Hmm….. I have 2 hours til midnight and a baby who is sure to wake for a feed any minute. Never mind, I’m not about to give up on Deb’s challenge in week 2!

So why have I been procrastinating so much? I’ve been reflecting about that too and I think it is simply because putting out a list of “my top 5 core values” seems so definite and final and hard to do. I have been reading some other posts for reassurance that it is possible and it seems many people have found this challenge similarly difficult. But I know Deb made the point that values are not permanent so the time has come to define my values and accept that if I were to do this exercise again next week or next year the list would probably be different. And that’s fine.

Identifying a whole heap of values that are really important to me is easy. In no particular order, all of the following are values I hold in high esteem: respect, compassion, wisdom, resilience, learning/growth, connection, family, honesty, love, loyalty, empathy, commitment, patience, kindness, balance, mindfulness, optimism, generosity, perseverance, reliability, courage (the ordinary kind; fans of Brené Brown will get this distinction), authenticity, trustworthiness, enthusiasm and versatility. These are all values that I hope my kids will grow up believing in and aspiring to. But there are way more than the suggested 10 – 15 there!

And how to narrow it down to 5? Therein lies the challenge.

As I write, I have suddenly remembered that I have been through this process before. Some time ago I was given one of Paul Wilson’s “Calm” books. With it came a mini-book called “The Life Priorities Calculator – the calm way to get your life in order”. I now vividly remember sitting on a plane in 2003, returning home to the grind of my PhD after visiting my then new boyfriend (now husband) who lived interstate. I was newly madly in love and full of optimism and joy and had decided on a whim to pack the book. It was the freedom and autonomy that comes with a plane flight (pre-kids!) that led me to work through this book.

I have just pulled the book down from the shelf (after writing the first half of this post) and voila, I have a record of the values, goals and priorities that were important to me almost a decade ago. Even then, in the first round I selected 32 values (at least I am consistent in my indecision)! Following the process outlined in the book, I then narrowed the list down to 20 and finally to 5 core values.

I am fascinated by the fact that every single one of the 20 values I identified in 2003 can be found in the list of 25 values I made today. Who knows if that would have been the case another decade earlier? Probably not (20 years ago I was only 17). So I wonder at what point I became able to identify these values that form the foundation of who I am and who I want to be? Again, I’m sure that is another post but makes the point very well that while values may change, they also may not.

For now, I want to explore my two lists of top 5 values. Because they are completely different. Not one shared value.

In 2003, from # 1 – # 5, I had Love, Wisdom, Integrity, Passion and Balance. All values that I continue to feel very strongly about. No prizes for guessing why love was at the forefront of my mind 😉

But prior to finding my 2003 list, I had finally sorted out my current ranking for core values.

In 2012, from #1 – # 5, I have Connection, Family, Respect, Learning/growth and Gratitude.

Of course, as soon as I found my 2003 list, it made me question my 2012 list, but I am sticking with it. Another day I might analyse the differences but for now I shall focus on my current list.

Today, Connection has to come first. To me, this is what gives my life meaning. Connection with myself allows me to be mindful and to live an authentic life and connection with myself enables me to truly connect with my family and friends. Genuinely connecting with people is quite simply everything to me. And this comes ahead of family in my list (if anything really can) because connection encompasses everything that I hope for in my relationships with my husband and children.  True connection means being there for one another no matter what, being true to one another, being truly available and loving one another unconditionally. For me, connection is also about respecting the earth and feeling connected to something “bigger than just us” when I am in nature. Call it mother earth or whatever you will but natural places are spiritual places for me.

Next is Family, no explanation needed. Both my immediate and extended family. My husband and my kids are my life.

Third is Respect. And by this I mean both self-respect (looking after my body and my mind) and respect for others. To me this also encompasses compassion, empathy and kindness. This is about treating myself and others right and doing whatever I can for us all to flourish and thrive.

Fourth is Learning/growth. It seems to me that without constant learning, personal growth and development, life would get pretty dull. I just can’t imagine not having multiple books on the go, listening to podcasts, reading blogs, talking to people, travelling and doing a multitude of other things to expand my mind and broaden my experiences.  Perhaps with enough years under my belt I may even have something resembling wisdom. I naively assume that given how they are being brought up, my kids will also have this thirst for knowledge and understanding as well as a love of learning. Hope I’m right!

Finally, I have Gratitude. I think this is reasonably new for me, realising that my natural tendency for optimism, the fact that I almost always look on the bright side (except for when very sleep-deprived) is vital to my happiness and that of my family. Being mindful of the myriad blessings in my life and being genuinely grateful for those blessings enables resilience, perseverance, generosity and courage.

Phew…. nearly kept it under 1000 words. Maybe next time!