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    A Mission Statement, a Purpose, or Intention: Just Be Sure to Have One

    By Brett Andrews–

    And so, a New Year begins—one filled with hope, promise, and opportunity. While we hold fast to the optimism that surrounds it, we are also aware that it can, and most likely will, be peppered with difficulty, challenge, and controversy. This is where a mission statement will come in handy.

    I came to understand the full benefit of having what I like to refer to as a mission, twice in my life. The first time was around the death of my dear mother. I found myself rudderless, and without wind to feed my sail. I did not realize that I spent the better part of my life, living for her. Now, without her, the questions became: Whom should I try to please and where do I go for validation?

    The second time emerged when I was living in Los Angeles and, at my own choosing, found myself at a crossroad of my career. In some self-imposed way, I decided that I was too old for the youth director position I held for over a decade, and at the same time, was wildly unsure of what, professionally, I was qualified to do, or what type of work would again bring me such rewarding satisfaction.

    It took a UCLA situation comedy writing class exercise to finally put to words what had long lived inside me—guiding me throughout my life. On the first day, the professor asked the class if we had a mission statement, and if we did not, we needed to write one. This was not a suggestion; it was an assignment to be recited in the next class convening.

    Understanding where I was in my life, always wanting to please, and in desperate need of validation, I took this assignment quite seriously. After days of toiling over words, their meaning, and my truest intentions, a mission finally emerged. It was not at all what I expected. It became very clear, pretty quickly, that though I love humor, I did not want to be a situation comedy writer. I also revealed to myself that no matter what I did for work, it would have to be in support of helping others. I am gratified to say that since that time of reflection and introspection, I have spent the past 15 years doing precisely that.

    There will always be forces that pull and push you; temptations that under dim and bright light reflect as pure gold. In these fast-moving, ever-changing times, it is most important to have a true north to help guide you down life’s path. With that, I share my mission statement I fashioned over twenty-one years ago and encourage everyone to write one for themselves.

    My mission is to celebrate life, to have no regrets, to challenge myself on all fronts, to confront my fears, and delight in my accomplishments. In short, I want to understand myself that I might better understand and accept others. As a hopeful and hopeless romantic, I will always succumb to the love I have for mankind. I am both wise and foolish enough to trust that man will continue to make mistakes, yet, in the face of adversity, step forth and rise to new heights of human kindness and love. In my seemingly endless quest to love more, I see myself as an ever-evolving paradigm who seeks to set the standard and then challenges to break it.

    Brett Andrews is the Chief Executive Director of PRC (http://positiveresource.org/Default.aspx), which is the only place for people living with HIV/AIDS or mental health disabilities to get comprehensive benefits counseling and employment services in San Francisco. Andrews is a member of the San Francisco HIV/AIDS Provider Network, the San Francisco Human Services Network and the Mayor’s CBO Taskforce. He additionally serves on the Board of the National Working Positive Coalition.