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Does your family have a mission statement?

The marrow of any successful business’ bones contains the tell-all, unifying mission statement. This statement serves to define the company and affirm its position in the market and perhaps, the world. In the words of author Stephen Covey from his trailblazing book, The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, in life, one must “… begin with the end in mind.”

I had been somewhat engaged in this practice since college, haphazardly asserting my goals within no particular philosophical framework. However, once married, my husband and I, embarking on our first adventure, took this endeavor seriously and began this guided exercise after the birth of our first child. At that time, he had been in the process of building a corporation from the ground up, and was quite adept at synthesizing an entire raison d’état into a few meaty sentences.

And since then, every two years we’ve diligently revisited our life-defining undertaking, revising it with the shifting of the tides. And despite our fate, ensuring we hadn’t inadvertently sacrificed our core values.

Because a mission statement, whether written as a family or as an individual, should be fluid yet timeless. It ought to define our fundamental nature and in just a few powerful words, speak volumes about who we are, what we believe in, and how we plan to contribute before the end of our days.

Life is always throwing us curveballs and in order to ensure we stay the course, and not get derailed by fleeting and elusive temptations that indeed have the potential to completely alter our original game-plan, this written testament reminds us of what we stand for.

And although our ideas and beliefs evolve over time, as we mature and learn more about the world, our very essence generally does not.

This exercise has been particularly helpful for me personally. At times, I’ve had to use it as a reference to help me realize that yes, I had lost my way. Long stretches of adversity that challenged my very will to survive, had me questioning and even negating my original perceptions about the world and about myself.

So last night, lingering over dinner in a charming restaurant tucked away in a quiet neighborhood in Barcelona, Spain, my husband and I reminisced. Full of gratitude to have finally returned to our favorite place after twelve years, the place where we first felt the quintessential magic of our life together, we knew it was time to reassess our vows. The goal: keep ourselves honest.

Life is a cycle. Sometimes you’re up and sometimes you’re down. I want to know that no matter where I may fall on the spectrum, I’ve remained true to myself and loyal to my loved ones.

And know what will be remembered about me once I’m gone.

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