Could you define your life’s work, your career motto, in three small words? Every time I asked this question of association members for their magazine, it made me think long and hard about my own response. What would I say? What is my life’s work, and could I describe it in three words? Talk about an editorial challenge!
While many people may scoff at this question, considering it too full of fluff for high-level executives, asking that question even of ourselves forces us to think about our careers with a sharper focus. What do I bring to the table? How do I make myself stand out? How do my services help others? How can I contribute to the greater good?
These are all serious questions. If we want to be successful in our life’s work, no matter what type of work we do, we must begin with in-depth self-analysis of our own place in this world. Many people trip over this idea of defining their personal motto or mission in three words. They claim they need more words to describe it.
Once we find those three words, however, that motto can drive our decisions in our personal and professional lives. When stuck in indecision, we need only to return to that little phrase to guide us to a resolution that is aligned with our motivations. When confronted by tragic circumstances – a job loss, a death in the family, money woes, or a personal or professional crisis, thinking about this motto can be a source of wisdom, courage and inspiration to help you survive the darkest moments of your life.
Inspired by my routine question to our high-level real estate members, I spent time thinking about my own three-word motto. “Act with integrity” came to mind. So simple, yet so potent and empowering. I think of these words every time I am faced with a crisis of consciousness. And it has helped me through some dark times too.
I can think of a few others: “Believe in yourself.” “Be kind, compassionate.” “Think before acting.” Use whatever words work for you. Keep it simple and straightforward. There are no wrong answers. There’s no need to publicize it or put it on your business card, unless you really want to. This little three-word mission statement is for your heart and soul alone.
If you’re looking to find inspiration in your career or life’s work, think about three words that defines who you are. These three little words can inspire you, motivate you, and drive every decision you make. To get started, here are a few tips for creating your three-word motto.
1. Start with an action verb. Words like think, believe, act, help, move, etc. gets the action going, and it serves as a reminder to you to be an active participant in life, rather than an observer. Make it empowering, inspirational and proactive.
2. Be positive. What do each of the mottos mentioned above have in common? Each one paints a positive, sunny picture that is sure to brighten your spirit. The more positive you can make it, the more energy it will give you.
3. Be results-oriented. Say something that reminds you to commit to doing something good and brings positive results.
4. Focus on your power as an instrument of change. What influence do you have in the world? Do you want to write, teach, heal, build homes, sing, or make people laugh?
These ideas are just a starting point. Try out several sample mottos to see if they resonate with you. Do they match where you are in the world at this point in time? Mix and match different words until you find the right combination that best describes your life’s mission.
When you’ve finalized your motto, write it down and keep it somewhere where you can readily refer to it – the bathroom mirror, your wallet, or your computer screen saver. Meditate on its meaning or use it as a mantra so that the message seeps deeply into your soul. With time, that motto simply becomes a part of who you are. It will be so deeply ingrained that you won’t need to see it on the bathroom mirror anymore.