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Personal Practices: Shared Intention

In Paulo Coelho's modern fable The Alchemist, a wise man tells a young shepherd that every human being has a "personal legend." Do you have a clear articulation, preferably written, of what gives your life and work meaning? Do you have a big enough goal, idea, mission or purpose to serve as your personal North Star, a way of orienting yourself and discerning whether you are "on track"?

If not, setting aside some time to write a personal mission statement might be a useful practice. Here are some guidelines:

Keep it short, at maximum one longish sentence. It should be short enough so you can remember it and state it without having to take a breath in the middle.

Find language that is simple, personal, and that speaks to your heart. It only has to ring true for you; it is not meant to impress anyone else.

You don't have to get it right the first time. Keep coming back to it, reflecting on it, refining it, until you feel satisfied.

Post it where you can see it daily.

Feel free to change it when life changes, or when you have an inspiration or a memory that makes your personal mission or purpose clearer.

RESOURCES: Richard J. Leider, The Power of Purpose: Creating Meaning in Your Life and Work Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 1997.

Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation, Jossey-Bass, 2000.

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