The Middle Way Method: Wrap Up
This is the final entry in the Middle Way Planning series. Last November, I introduced this planning system to you. Then I showed you how you could create your own paper-based companion planner. Last month, I showed you how to use the two together. This month I wanted to address any questions you had on the system or its components.
When I put the call out for input, I was hoping to have a list of 10 to 25 good questions. I envisioned readers would come back with holes that I had not foreseen. Instead most readers discussed the use of Mission Statements and Vision Statements. There was also one question about Roles and their use in planning. Therefore, this article will have three sections. I will discuss Roles, Mission Statements, and Vision Statements as they relate to the Middle Way Method.
I want to start this article off by asking you a question. Imagine you have a jar. In front of the jar you have several bowls filled each with rocks, pebbles, sand and water. You are asked to fill the jar completely with all the items. What would you do?
Now, many people have seen this in team-building or prioritizing workshops. The answer is that you would put the large rocks in first. Then you'd put the pebbles in, shaking the jar so that the pebbles fill the space between the rocks. Then you'd fill the jar with sand, allowing it to seep deeply into all the crevices. Lastly, you'd pour the water in until the jar was completely full.
This "rocks, pebbles, sand, and water" metaphor is appropriate to the Middle Way. In fact, it's exactly what happens. You, or your time, is the jar. The rocks represent the most important commitments in your life. Commitments to yourself, and those you care the most about. The role of the Mission and Vision Statements is to help you set, and keep priorities in your life clear. That is why we need to examine it weekly. Over the course of a week we can forget our own priorities as we try to shovel sand and water into our jar. The Vision and Mission statements help us determine who, and what are the rocks in our life. The rocks are those things that are most important to us. They may take the form of others we care about (Roles), in which case we put down first what the relationship is, and what we are going to do to build it this week. For example: I am getting to be very busy with work, school, and starting a business. It is important to me to maintain my family relationships, so each week I pick a few things I can do to build my relationship with my wife, and children. I put these into my system first, so that they will be accomplished. Instead of wishing I had time to spend with my family, I find the time. I keep them separated in my planner so that I see them every day. Other forms of the "Rocks" in our lives are our commitments to ourselves. Humans are multifaceted, meaning we have more than one piece of our nature. We have a physical body to take care of, a spiritual core to develop, a mind to sharpen, and social abilities to master. Any or all of these can be washed away if not planned for each week.
In my earlier posts I left the how to develop a mission statement out, because I decided that anyone who wanted to write a mission statement could find one of the many useful articles, or books on the subject. Doug, innowen, and myself have all at one time or another written on the subject. For the Middle Way, the mission statement is not use much time on a weekly basis. Once it is developed it is used to set up the week.
However, one of the first questions I received on my last post was this:
I have looked at many different planning systems and all of them have as a part of the system a "Mission Statement".
Do you really need a "Mission Statement"?
I can see setting goals. That gets a project done. But a "Mission Statement".
I as an individual have no mission. I just want to get my life in order and make sure I get things done that need to be done. Perhaps if I were setting up some sort of association, a small business whatever a mission statement might be important but it is a waste of time that can be occupied getting things done that need to be done and reviewing and editing it is doubly useless.
Or am I wrong?
The mission statement is a document which has to come from the heart. It can not be found outside of yourself. It has to come from within. The mission statement is a collection of what matters most to you. the following quote illustrates the frustration people have with mission statements when they fail to connect the person with their values, and beliefs in a meaningful way.
The next point from the discussion I want to comment on is:
I have just never understood the need for a mission statement and when I first started trying some of these organizational methods I tried to make one but it always seemed so silly and for the most part I would be copying the mission statements that were presented as examples.
This was my experience when I first started trying to develop a mission statement. I learned that I was so afraid of putting on paper what was most important to me. I felt that it just could not be a mission statement, because it was of a spiritual nature, not a day to day be successful nature. I caution anyone entering into the exercise of writing a mission statement that it is very personal, and example mission statements often derail the process. Also, remember that while you are committing ideas down to paper that it does not mean that your Mission Statement becomes set in stone. You are allowed to change it, in fact, that is why we revisit it in the Middle Way Method, so that you can decide for yourself whether or not you still want to be held up to those words or if you want to change them.
I Wear Many Hats and if I were to write a personal mission statement, it would have about 17 chapters, none of which tied in to each other.
Or, I guess I could spend a couple of hours searching my mind for some over-arcing principle to try to tie everything together. I could then do a typographic poster of my mission statement, hang it on the wall — and it wouldn't change whet I'm doing, not one bit.
I believe that our values transcend occupations. Who we are often defines what work we will do, but I can work in accounting, or flipping burgers, but my values of integrity, civility, and kindness transfer to the new job with me. I caution people to not let something as transitory as a job, occupation, or hobby define your values. The mission statement is a guide for choosing what you will do, and how you will accomplish it.
Lastly I want to reiterate the value of the vision statement.
Please find your most comfortable place. Somewhere quiet, and private. If it helps play some music which helps you to relaxe, and maybe dim the lights. Now close your eyes, and ponder what would your life be like in two to five years if you were a complete individual. You have accomplished your present goals, you have learned all you set out to learn, you have developed the values in yourself you desire to posses. You are ready for bigger, and better things. How does your life look? How does it feel? Live it in your mind.
Immediately after doing that write a paragraph or two which bring those feelings back to you. This is your vision, keep it close to your mind. When you feel discouaged recite it to yourself. It has the power to pull you up, and to help you keep going.
I started out writing, because I hoped that in writing I would make a difference to someone, help someone solve a problem, or find a way to be a little better off. I am very grateful to the many people who have taken the time over the last few months to read, and share back thoughts about the Middle Way Method, and the system I created for it. I look forward to hearing about your successes, and being able to answer anymore questions you may have. If you have questions please feel free to contact me. I hope that this series gives everyone something to think about. I can be contacted through D*I*Y Planner's contact form, or through the website listed in my profile. When you e-mail me about the Middle Way method, please include the term Middle Way as part of the subject, so I can respond quickly to your message.