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  • Missions are things we tend to associate with astronauts.

  • If someone at a party asked what you did, and you said you were involved on a mission of some kind, people would look at you sort of strangely.

  • But in truth, we'd all benefit from focusing in on the purpose of our lives, so that we can refer to them as missions of one kind or another.

  • When the entrepreneur Elon Musk was at university, he asked himself very explicitly what his mission in life would be.

  • He began by wondering what the world needed most urgently, then he looked into himself to see what his talents were and that led him to a list of four possible missions:

  • space exploration, electric transportation, Artificial Intelligence and rewriting the human genome.

  • After a bit more thought, Elon Musk chose the first two.

  • Few of us will ever settle on missions as mighty as these, but the notion of having a mission rather than a mere job or a hobby, remains widely applicable.

  • How, then, can we learn to adopt the mission mindset? Here are some ideas.

  • Firstly, what matters is to adopt a certain seriousness about one's life.

  • The working bit will only be, at best, 50 years.

  • So the challenge is around focus: how can one reduce the range of one's enthusiasms and see that having so many interests is half the problem.

  • Talk of a mission forces us to reduce what we care about down to just a few very big things: it privileges precision over breadth.

  • You give yourself a specific target, aware of how much energy it will take to reach it.

  • Secondly, a mission is about having a plan; and reducing the amount of times that, because one has no clear goal, one gets swept along by the plans of others.

  • Then again, a mission is different from an ambition.

  • An ambition starts with what you want. A mission centers around what others need.

  • People with missions may well end up making money and having status, but that isn't what led them to the mission in the first place.

  • Missions are about the intrinsic worth of tasks. They are about helping other people.

  • The search for a mission requires you to ask: among all the problems facing humanity, what are the ones that properly interest me?

  • Be alive to the small-scale but authentic concerns you may have.

  • Having focused on a problem of humanity that feels right for you, you then need to take an honest look at your own aptitudes.

  • What truly are your talents? What can you contribute?

  • That may require a lot of introspection, career counselling and experimentation.

  • Then, where your skills and aptitudes intersect with the needs of the world, that is your distinctive zone: that is where your mission lies

  • A mission isn't a mission because it's grand, but because it's precise.

  • Examples of modest but crucial missions might be:

  • a mission to improve the care that the elderly receive at the end of their lives,

  • or a mission to teach children music in an engaging way,

  • or a mission to get the best pizzas out to the customers of north Liverpool or downtown San Diego.

  • Conceiving of a mission requires us to throw off an attitude of inner serfdom, where we imagine that only other people have the right to plan their lives,

  • and everyone else must just surrender to accidents and the random whims of employers.

  • We can and should all have missions.

  • With a mission in hand, the next time you're at a party, you won't need to keep the conversation at the level of where you're employed,

  • you can answer with reference to the underlying logic of what you are up to.

  • You can, with no space helmet to your name, legitimately announce that you're on this earth with a mission to carry out.

  • Thank you for watching, liking and subscribing.

  • If you want more, why not visit us in person and attend a class?

  • Or take a look at our shop at the link on your screen now.

Missions are things we tend to associate with astronauts.

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Finding Your Mission

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    Evangeline posted on 2021/02/28
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