Do you have a North Star?
Sometimes understanding and defining your North Star can be a challenge.
For most, it’s easier to define your professional North Star, but in reality, your North Star should be an extension of who you are and should embody the person you are at work AND at home.
That’s what, Amy, my very first guest on Season 12 of Productivity Paradox was struggling with this week on Episode 145…
Amy was feeling a disconnect between her mission statement for her work and home life. So, we dove into her life and had her reflect back on her childhood, because often times we have to look back on the past fondly to move us forward optimistically.
During our conversation, we discussed how to move from what she calls a “north-ish light bulb” to a true North Star, and how each and every one of us only needs to dig into what I call “the breadcrumbs” of our lives to tap into our North Star whenever we’re feeling lost or a little stuck.
…And all of this brings me back to my question earlier: do you have a North Star? Do you have an idea of what it should (or could) be?
Many of us aren’t sure where to even start when it comes to creating a North Star, so that’s what I would like to focus on here today: how to discover yours.
Our North Star is a combination of our mission, vision, and core values. Each one answers the question of who you are at your heart.
The mission statement tells us what we are doing now, the vision statement tells us what we are dreaming for the future, and the core values tell us how these can be defined through our actions.
Like pieces of a puzzle, they come together to create the completed picture of why we make the choices we do. They become the North Star we need to guide us and help us navigate through decisions…
So, without further ado, let’s take a peek at how you can discover your North Star by focusing on the three steps, or parts, that will make it possible!
Your mission statement answers the question: “What do I do?” It should be true to you and should be specific enough for people to understand what you do and why you do it.
But here’s the thing: a lot of people and companies get their mission statement wrong by using big fancy words that don’t really tell us—well, anything!
In reality, being as clear and concise as possible is the name of the game when it comes to your mission statement. Taking that one step further, we want our mission statement to be easy to memorize and repeat, because we want to be able to reference it often.
So, where do you start exactly?
One of the exercises that I used to help create my own mission statement is called the ABC Brain Dump, and I want to encourage you to give it a try, because it’s a great tool to use whenever you’re feeling stuck.
The trick of the exercise is to list out all of the letters of the alphabet on a sheet of paper, from A to Z. Then, sit down for two minutes and think about the question you’re considering (in this case, the question would be Why do I do what I do?).
After you’ve considered the question, start writing! Beginning with the letter A and working your way through to the letter Z, you’ll want to spend about a minute on each letter thinking of words that help clarify the answer to your question.
Once you’ve gone through the alphabet, start looking for words that pop out at you or any recurring themes that you notice that will allow you to create a mind map that you can tie into a mission statement that is unique and specific to you.
Remember: your mission statement isn’t about your job (or your dream job) itself—it’s about what your job does and why you do it… Because, when we understand our why, we can answer the question of what we do!
While your mission statement tells you where you are today, your vision statement clarifies where you want to be in the future.
The question you’ll want to focus on, then, as it pertains to your vision statement is “Where am I going?” And it’s important to note that the answer to that question will likely be very different from where you are right now.
Your vision statement helps set the trajectory of your life and defines where the destination lies… And just like your mission statement, it should be short and direct (meaning one sentence or a simple phrase will do!).
A few questions you can ask yourself to help you get started in creating your own vision statement include: How do I want to evolve and grow? And, how can I make what I’m doing now even better?
Dive into those questions and see what comes to light!
Your core values are a group of words that work in concert to create the essential standards that guide your behavior and shape your decisions.
They answer the question: “How will I support my mission and vision statements?”
People often claim to live by their core values, but if your values are open-ended and ambiguous, it’s easy to get out of alignment and make bad choices.
In other words, it’s super hard to actually live by your core values if you don’t take the time to articulate them clearly and write them down!
The idea here is to create a set of core values that are inspirational and concrete, so they have both meaning and action. They should speak to your passions and help drive the decisions that you make. (For more help here, refer back to Episode 058!)
When you follow your personal core values, they will fulfill you and help you focus on the person that you want to be.
Now, I know the process of defining your North Star might seem daunting, but the important thing to remember is not to be scared. You can’t mess this up!
If you find you’re not happy with the parts that make up your North Star, simply adjust it.
The beauty of your North Star is that it isn’t permanent; rather, your North Star is something that can change and grow over time, just like you!
Do you have a North Star yet? Let’s hear it! Share bits and pieces of your North Star in the comments below. . .
And be sure to head over to Episode 145 this week to listen to my conversation with Amy, my very first guest on Season 12 of the podcast. You won’t want to miss it!