A couple evenings last week, I took part in a group activity. I wasn’t too excited about it when I first read about it, but I thought it might be interesting. The goal of this group project was to create a personal mission statement. According to what I read prior to the first session, a personal mission statement can be an extremely powerful tool. If you create one that captures what you’re all about, it can help direct almost every decision and aspect of your life. That sounded like a big promise for something that’s only a couple sentences long, but as I’m beginning a new adventure in life and I have spent some considerable time over the last year pondering some of these very issues, I decided it was probably well worth my time.
Prior to these discussions, we received about a dozen questions that were meant to clarify what we were about—they were strictly for our own use. I spent a couple hours answering them. After I finished, I went back and read over the pages I'd written. It was pretty easy to see some very common themes. It was also pretty obvious where my aspirations were frequently in conflict with the reality of what I was doing. We’d return to these questions over and over again over the next couple of evenings—highlighting different areas, pulling out recurring themes, and identifying the disconnects. Over the weekend I took all the things I learned during those two evenings, and I created the beginnings of a very short personal mission statement.
I realized at some point as I’m going through this exercise that I’d done some of this before. I’d asked myself many of these same questions at a certain point in my life. The last time I found myself stuck in a routine and wondering what was next.
“What’s important to you?”
“Where do you want to go?”
“What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?”
“What personality traits do you need to gain to get where you want to go?"
"Which personality traits do you need to lose?”
“What does your best life look like?”
Last time those questions lead me to join the Masonic Lodge. My answers were a little different last time around, but I’m further down the path now than I was. The Masonic Lodge has been a powerful motivator in my life. It’s given me focus. It’s given me good examples to follow. It’s given me opportunities to do things I’d never done before. It’s repeatedly taken me to the next level. It changed my life and my direction. In fact, it brought me to this crossroads I find myself at right now!
Too many Masons miss what this is about. They remain the same person they were when they joined—some convinced they’re a gift to Freemasonry rather than the other way around. We hear the words, but we don’t apply the principles. They read books about Freemasonry so they can discuss books about Freemasonry, but they never apply the Freemasonry! These Masons will be the first to tell you that Freemasonry is a journey, but they've never actually packed for the trip.
Freemasonry is work—some of the most difficult work you’ll ever do. It involves rebuilding yourself better! Strengthening those good aspects of your character and eliminating the bad ones. About finding out what you’re good at, what you’re passionate about and putting that energy to good use. But the hard part in all of that is being honest with ourselves. Being able to admit to ourselves that there are some areas we need to work on. Being able to look in the mirror and see what other people see and have the desire to change what you see.
A personal mission statement is a good thing to have. If nothing else, it clarifies what is personally important to you and gives your life focus. But without a doubt, there’s never been a better time than during this quarantine for many of us to take some time to do a personal inventory. We have ample time to ponder difficult questions that sometimes get drowned out in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and find that ladder to the next level.
Todd E. Creason, 33° is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog, and an award-winning author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. Todd started the Midnight Freemason blog in 2006, and in 2012 he opened it up as a contributor blog The Midnight Freemasons (plural). Todd has written more than 1,000 pieces for the blog since it began. He is a Past Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 and Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL) where he currently serves as Secretary. He is a Past Sovereign Master of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. He is a Fellow at the Missouri Lodge of Research (FMLR). He is a charter member of the new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282 and currently serves as EHP. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org