How a mission statement is helping me focus

You could say I've been throwing tons of crap at the wall lately. I'm not sure how much of it is sticking. Have you been there? You know, when you keep doing, doing, doing without really knowing why you're doing it or where you're heading? Yeah. That's where I've been for the past month.

I made it a 2017 resolution to start writing again. I wasn't sure exactly why; maybe I just wanted a creative outlet that I controlled. I'm grateful for my client relationships and the fact I get paid to be creative, but fulfilling someone else's dream doesn't feed your soul like making your own thing.

And so I've been writing. I've written about hiring, building products, business, and more. I've also been coding. I built a creative community page for Eugene, Oregon and a Slack integration for HTML forms.

But most of this has felt like I was flailing my creative elephant trunk and knocking everything over in the process.

And I realized something today: I don't have a mission.

My mission was "write more." My mission was "build things." And so I wrote more. And I built things. But I wasn't doing it with an ethos behind me. I didn't have a target at which I was aiming.

Today, I did a few things to help me focus.

For awhile now, I've tried to maintain both a personal site, a business site, and an arts site. While I hope to someday return to producing art and music in a more full-time capacity, there aren't enough hours in the day to do everything. I'm shutting down Guilded and moving everything to one place at teejayvanslyke.com.

I've also drafted a mission statement that I want to carry with me through my career. It reminds me of why I work so hard every single day: To design and build digital products that improve people's lives:

I design & build timeless & elegant digital products.

I've used the word timeless in the past to describe the epitome of what I strive for in my product work. Software is inherently ephemeral, but I do think there's value in producing tools which provide value for as long as possible.

I'm also foregoing using the word software to refer to what it is I do any longer. From now on, I'm eager for my role to be in designing and engineering digital products. I think the distinction is massive.

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