Mission creep

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Get the damn beets. They’re fine. They will taste just as good as the ones you make yourself. You mix them up with everything else in the salad anyway. No one will even know.

*Puts pre-roasted beets in grocery cart and walks away … stops.*

NO. I need to go somewhere else and find raw beets and roast them. It makes the whole salad. Plus, you’ll get to say, “Oh, it’s no big deal, I just roasted the beets last night.”

*Puts pre-roasted beets back on shelf … stops.*

Ugggghhhh, but I also need goat cheese. This will take all night. I have no idea where the goat cheese is at Calvin’s. I know where the goat cheese is at Bet-R. I would have gone there but I was leaving Beausoleil and … That’s it. I’m going to Whole Foods.

*Looks at watch.*

No, I’m not. If I leave now, I’ll get to see my kids for ten minutes before they fall asleep. I just want to get home and see my girls.

Pre-roasted beets FTW. Shun me to the semi-homemade dinner party guest list.

How often do you have the same internal banter and debate? Every week? Every day? In the moment, these little decisions seem so small, but when you add them up, they are so much more than the sum of their parts. It’s those thousands of small decisions that end up defining our days, years, and ultimately our life.

But what if it wasn’t intentional? Twenty dollars here, 30 minutes there … and there you are. You didn’t even intend to spend your money or time in those exact ways. You got caught in the moment. You lost track. You couldn’t say no.

The older I get, the more I admire people who identify what’s important to them, develop laser-sharp focus, and stick to their guns no matter what. They don’t eat takeout for lunch because they are saving for a down-payment on a car or house. They say no to serving on a board for something they’re not passionate about, no matter who asked them.

In the nonprofit world, when you take on initiatives that are outside the core vision for your organization, it’s referred to as “mission creep.” Similarly, when we don’t take the time to identify our personal mission, vision, and values, I think we can suffer from “personal mission creep.”

Like a company hanging its mission statement in the lobby, maybe it would help if we took the time to identify our core values and personal mission, and put it somewhere that we can’t help but see. Somewhere annoyingly in the face of those thousands of small decisions to provide some clarity, focus, and help us stay on track with what we claim is important.

Maybe it’s just a picture or two. The kids. The corner office. The dream house.

Set it as your phone background, pin it to your office cork board, stick a Post-it to your bathroom mirror. Something to help steer us back on track when we start to creep. Something to remind us that maybe the pre-roasted beets are OK if it means a goodnight kiss instead of a phone call, and that the really special friends will tell you they have never had a better beet and goat cheese salad … even if you forgot the goat cheese.

Julie Laperouse is Director of Training at Emergent Method, Chief Peacock at Screaming Peacock and the mother of four little peacocks.

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