Recently, I was on a small plane with about 69 other passengers. I was lost in a book when I took a break and looked around at the other passengers. I love to watch people as they go about their day and imagine what they do, where they’re going, and what it would be like to be them and see the world through their eyes.
I noticed that the gentleman sitting next to me was a professional photographer. Judging by the images on his screen and the intensity with which he labored over his photos, he is excellent at it and he loves it. He tended to tiny pixels on each image tweaking them until they were near-perfect. He smiled to himself as he worked on each image – as if he was reliving the moment he took each photograph.
The woman seated in front of me was working on a spreadsheet and a Powerpoint document. Whether she was doing it because she loves it or because she has to, I couldn’t tell you. But it got me thinking.
I saw people in business suits and people in track suits. 70 different people on a plane. 70 different goals. 70 different dreams for their lives. 70 different passions. 70 different careers. 70 different life trajectories.
I realized something as I looked around the plane. At least two of us love what we do – me and the gentleman sitting next to me. I only hoped that the other 68 people either love what they do as much as we do, or are making huge strides toward being able to do what they are called to do. Deep down, I hoped that they are pursuing their mission in life.
You see, it’s not what you do that matters as much as it that you live out what you were designed to do and you appreciate the journey your life is on. If the woman seated in front of me was working on spreadsheets and Powerpoint documents because she loved it, then that is to be envied. We all won’t love Powerpoint and spreadsheets, but we should all love what we are doing.
As I went back to my reading, I couldn’t help but think of the quote from Henry David Thoreau: “The masses of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” I hope for their sakes that the other 68 people on that plane do not count themselves among the masses.
And I hope that you don’t live a life of quiet desperation either. You were created for so much more than that.
The Four Phases of Living Your Mission
When it comes to living out your mission, there are four phases that you may find yourself in the middle of:
Phase 1 – You don’t believe you have a mission. Many people don’t even think they are called to something greater than what they’re currently doing. They’ve settled. Perhaps you have accepted the lie that you are “unlucky” or that you are average. In your mind, other people having missions, or callings, or a purpose. Not you. You feel like you are doomed to this average life.
One of the best things you can do if this is where you find yourself is to change your circle of friends. More often than not, people in this phase are surrounded by others who think and feel the same way. You must break free from this influence on your life. So that you can move to the next phase.
Phase 2 – You believe you have a mission but don’t know how to discover it. You believe that there is more to life than quiet desperation. You believe that you were designed for so much more. You just can’t put your finger on it. You have “inklings” and “ideas” but aren’t really sure how to crystalize it.
This can be a difficult stage. Many people who find themselves here think it should be easier to determine their mission in life so they get frustrated and give up. I want to tell you that, depending on your past, this phase can take time. Don’t allow it to get you down or make you anxious. I spent a lot of years here partially because I was trying to force it rather than being patient and enjoying the process. Keep learning and stretching yourself. Don’t become complacent and eventually you will move out of this phase.
Phase 3 – You know what your mission is but don’t know how to go about living it. This is a stage filled with so much emotion. Doubt and fear and confusion and excitement and wonder are common if you are in this phase. You feel filled with more questions than answers and you may even feel overwhelmed.
The good news is there are ways to get help and get moving. For some, coaching is a great solution. For others, joining business programs like Warriors of Business can be a great place to start. Whatever you do, you must surround yourself with like-minded people who will challenge and push you to excel. Create accountability for yourself. Keep learning and experimenting. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and don’t feel like things need to be “perfect” in order to take action.
Phase 4 – You are living your mission. You labor under the love of doing what you were created to do. You love what you do and count yourself blessed to do it. People who are around you feel that in you. You radiate passion and excitement. Remember that a lot of people are jealous of that passion and would love to be where you are.
Don’t apologize for being in this phase. Instead, use it as an opportunity to help those in the other three phases. Consider becoming a mentor to someone. You’ll be surprised how much you learn through the process about yourself and your mission in life. You’ll find a level of fulfillment you didn’t know you were missing.
Like those in the other phases, keep growing! Don’t take it for granted and rest on your laurels.
Which phase are you in and what (if anything) do you feel like you’re missing in order to move from where you are to where you want to be? I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on this below.