I began reading Laurie Beth Jones‘s nonfiction book, The Path: Creating Your Mission Statement for Work and for Life at the recommendation of a friend with whom I shared the questions that have been dogging (no pun intended!) me for the last few years: Why does it matter? What is my purpose? What am I doing here–and why am I doing it? A year or so before, the same friend had also recommended to me Viktor Frankl‘s deeply inspirational, moving, and thought-provoking work, Man’s Search for Meaning, so I trust her judgement.
I am about two-thirds of the way through The Path, and have found it motivational, informative, and uplifting, as well as somewhat enlightening.
There are two key elements that make this book engaging: the case studies and examples, and the exercises.
Jones pulls examples from two main pools: her own friends, colleagues, and clients, and Biblical and/or historical characters, such as Joan of Arc, Ruth, Jesus, and Nehemiah–just to name a few. With each example, Jones achieves two goals. First, she demonstrates that the advice described in the book has worked for many people, and can work for us, as well. Second, she illustrates how all these people applied–whether they realized it or not–the step-by-step process she details in the book, giving us insights as to how we might do the same.
The second helpful element of the book is the exercises, which keep me engaged, interested, and actively reading. They consist of personal and searching questions designed to help readers dig up their true passions, interests, influences, skills, and selves. Using the answers to some of the questions, Jones provides a formula for readers to create their mission statement, which she advises be short and sweet. One should be able to easily memorize and recite her mission statement. The longer piece is the vision statement, which may stretch longer than a paragraph, and details what one’s life will be like once she begins actually living out the mission statement. The vision statement expresses the ideal life of the reader, allowing her to imagine the results of living her mission, as well as helping her to remember the higher goal when living out the mission gets tough.
In addition to my own personal interest in uncovering my individual calling, I have recently begun a certification course in the field of life coaching, which will ultimately license me to help others live their best lives. To my delight, the information and ideas in The Path are remarkably relevant to much of the course material I have covered so far.
I have not yet completed my reading of this book, nor have I perfected my mission or vision statement–but I am much closer than I was before I began reading, and I am looking forward what I will learn from the remaining pages. If you are seeking purpose, missing meaning, or looking for a way to uncover your best self, I recommend this book. What you learn might surprise you!