Last week (March 19) I led a workshop for the Professional Writers Association of Canada (Saskatchewan Chapter) on developing a vision and mission statement. At the start of the workshop, there were confused looks from some of the writers participating…with questions like: why would they need a vision or mission statement? Aren’t vision and mission statements typically “corporate speak”, slogans that companies or non-profit organizations come up with to encapsulate their reason for being?
Yes…vision and mission statements have in the past been used solely by organizations to describe their purpose (their mission statement), and what they hope to achieve if they fulfill their purpose (their vision statement). But developing a vision and mission statement is a challenge that can assist all of us as individuals, but especially artists and creative entrepreneurs, to become clear, more focused, as we progress down our own life’s path.
For artists, there can be a more practical reason for doing this. When you apply for a Canada Council or Saskatchewan Arts Board grant, you are often asked to make an “artist’s statement”. Developing a vision and mission statement can help you clarify your artist statement. It can help you articulate what motivates you as an artist, and what you hope to achieve through your work.
How many times in our life do we stop to think about what we do, why we do it, and what we hope to accomplish because of it? Most of us are too busy to think about this…we just move through our days, working at our day jobs, trying to find time to be creative, time to spend with our family, to socialize, to have relationships, to find the money to do what we do, to get the laundry done, to clean the house, to walk the dog, to visit parents, or get caught up on Facebook, or answer emails, or apply for grants, or all of the other things that make up our daily routines. We just do what we do.
But if we stop for an hour or two, and think, really think, about what we would say if we had to define our purpose in life, if we had to articulate a mission statement, and gave equal thought to how we would define or articulate our own personal vision statement…we give challenge to that status quo.
Articulating your vision statement is a way to say “this is what I want to be when I grow up…this is how I will have changed the world because of my work”. Defining your mission statement can help put things in focus. It can help you sort out if what you are doing right now is helping you to achieve your mission in life, moving you one step closer to achieving your vision, or if it’s taking you away from your purpose, from what should be your life’s work.
I have five rules in life…the first rule is “Live a life of purpose and adventure. (Make sure it has meaning and fun in equal amounts.)” To do this, you need to be clear about your purpose, your mission in life. Developing a mission statement is a way to articulate this, in 30 words or less.
Developing your vision statement is a way to imagine what might happen, it’s a way to take the limitations off your possibilities, a way to quiet all the naysayers and negative voices that sometimes creep into our thoughts. It’s a way to actually articulate what might be, to be proactive with our lives. Think big when you’re thinking of a vision statement. Think really big. Why have a little vision? Have a big vision. I dare you.
My own personal mission statement? “I am committed to creative entrepreneurship development.” I want artists to make their living from their art. I want them to be able to continue to make art. I can’t imagine a world without art, without music, without books or film. I think of art and creativity as the ultimate expression of the human experience. For over 35 years, it has been my life’s work to ensure that the artists I work with are able to make a living from what they do. Now that I’m older…I’ve moved away from working with individual artists and am working more as an educator, teaching business skills to artists.
We will be offering a number of workshops and educational programs at the Creative City Centre, beginning in May 2011. If you want more information about developing your own mission and vision statements, send me an email or fill out the contact form on this website. We will be posting our workshop schedule to our events page as soon as it’s confirmed. In the meantime…give it some thought. What do you want to be when you grow up? How are you changing the world? What’s your mission in life?