A New Year’s Mission

Mike McGough
February 2020

His New Year’s resolutions, like most everyone else’s, were always well intended, and like most other folks, he began the year working to turn his resolution into a reality. However, and once again like most other folks, he soon lost interest in his resolution, and in time he forgot about it. He went on about his daily routine leaving it behind, only to revisit it again fifty weeks down the road.

Then there came the year that he wanted to change his usual pattern. He wanted to actually fulfill a resolution. He decided that the word resolution might be part of the problem. That word was a veritable cliché bantered about the last week of December and the first week or two of January each year. He also reasoned that most resolutions, even though well intended, are rather simplistic and lacking any real substance. They are often little more than a single statement such as, “I want to get myself in better shape.” or “I want to improve my financial state of affairs.” He decided that at least for him, such resolutions lack depth or breadth, and as a result they engender limited initial commitment that tends to fade quickly. He decided that for this year, he was going to set a New Year’s mission. The very word mission spoke of a focused purpose to him.

He gave several potential missions careful consideration before determining the one on which he would focus. This mission had been a resolution of his several years in the past, but heretofore he had made little progress turning it into a reality. In past years determining what he would resolve to do then sharing it with a few people was the sum of his previous efforts. That would not be the case this particular year. This year he was going to take time to put some proverbial meat on the bones of his plan for the coming year.

To give his mission meaning and provide some seriousness and range for it, he began working on some strategies. He reasoned that if his mission was focused on a big discernable goal, it would provide him with a broad view, say a 3,000-foot perspective of what he wanted to accomplish. Although good as an overview, such a broad perspective did not provide identifiable steps in a purposeful process or pieces of a workable master plan. For that he had to narrow his perspective a bit, say to a 300-foot view. To do that, he began building a mission blueprint based on some specific strategies. Each strategy was focused on the achievement of the mission he had set for himself.

Then he asked himself a question. It was a tough question; one many people making resolutions fail to consider. “Okay, I know what my mission is, and I even know some of the major steps I can take to fulfill that missions. But how do I turn those strategies, those plans from a 300-foot perspective into techniques for making my strategies actionable and thus achieving the mission?”

After some careful consideration, he decided that he needed to go to the tactical level and build some very specific, 30-foot perspective techniques for specific actions aimed at mission focus and ultimate mission achievement. This step took more time and more thought. He could no longer deal in generalities. He needed to be specific and highly focused. If he was going to get to the mission-accomplished stage, simply knowing the mission and having some broad strategies was not going to be enough.

Carefully, he began planning a tactical approach. He considered all of the variables such as resources available to him, time that could be devoted, his experience base, his current skill set, and potential sources of aid and assistance. When he was done, he had set a mission with a broad outlook. He had build in some mission-focused strategies, and he had made those strategies actionable with tactical plans that were specific, definable, and actionable. In short, he set a goal and made specific plans for achieving it. By year’s end he still had work to do. He was not finished, but he was much closer than he had ever been before.

Whether you make a resolution or set a mission for the coming year, it’s essential that you carefully consider and plan from closer than a 3,000-foot perspective. This year deliberate more thoughtfully, think more deeply, and plan more thoroughly. Give yourself the advantage of working from a plan that you can turn into actions, which will give you some discernable means of making progress toward your mission. Even if you can’t say, “Mission accomplished!” at the end of this year, you may be closer than you’ve ever been before.