How do you define whatever it is that you do? Is it a job, a vocation, a career, or perhaps a mission?
Most of the self-employed people I’ve met are in it because they love the work. They believe in what they’re doing – it’s something that gels with their values. In other words, it probably isn’t just a job. (No judgement implied here; it’s obviously fine to have ‘just’ a job if that makes you happy and aligns with your goals.)
I could bombard you with slogans from Medium articles about how you’ll never work a day in your life if you’re doing work you love, or something like that, but we all know this is nonsense, because building any business involves hard graft for years. It isn’t something you do unless it’s something you believe in.
But have you put that belief down in words? Do you need to?
When I established Pinnacle Editorial in 2014, I started out working almost exclusively on fiction, although I knew I wanted to edit outdoor writing. That happened slowly. I got there in the end. Today, close to 100 per cent of the work I choose to take on is outdoor writing in one way or another. I have made that work my priority because it’s what I believe in.
Until today, I didn’t have a formal mission statement. I don’t think it’s essential to have one, but if what you do is a mission rather than a job – as mine is, I suppose – then perhaps it’s helpful to have a focal point, something to keep you on track.
Here’s Pinnacle’s new mission statement:
Tell the stories that matter – tales of wilderness, nature, and human adventure within the context of a wilder world. Give others a voice. Leave no trace.
Let’s break this down:
- The stories that matter: today, more than ever before, we need to raise the profile of wilderness and nature. The more people love the natural world, the stronger the voice will be to protect it. Adventure is important too, as it provides a relatable human context (a gateway drug, if you like).
- Give others a voice: as I’ve written about before in this newsletter, I consider it a great privilege that – in a small way – I’m able to empower others to tell these stories. Giving others a voice has become a genuine priority for me.
- Leave no trace: this is both literal and metaphorical. I value LNT ethics when backpacking and mountaineering, and as an editor my work should be largely invisible at the end of the process.
This declaration of priorities works for me. It’s my hope that having a simple focus will stop me from chasing jobs that pay, but which don’t achieve what I want to be achieving in the wider world. Do you need a mission statement? Maybe not, but it could help – and if nothing else, taking five minutes to write a few notes could clarify your own priorities.
This was first published in the 15th issue of the Pinnacle Newsletter.