Reflecting on 2018: Defining my values and mission
[Read my Privilege Statement]
In 2018 I began to feel a shift in my sources for energy and joy. I developed an overwhelming desire to stay hyper local in my activities and travels. I increasingly felt like I was not acting in accordance with my values.
I confided in my friend, and she recommended completing the “Life Entrepreneurship” workbook, a set of exercises intended to help people articulate their values and mission, and identify ways to live them out.
Below are some highlights from what I learned about myself — some quite broad and some specific.
When am I in my element?
I feel most alive when I am dancing or when in nature — especially where the mountains meet the sea. It is important for me to have a physical reset, something that marks the start of a new timeframe. This can mean taking a dip in a cold ocean — which I did more than 30 times this year — or sauna-ing at the YMCA.
I am most productive when I start the day off with a workout, followed by “thinking” time — which includes individual or group brainstorming, design, and work sessions. I’m often in a food coma after lunch, so that’s prime time for emails, check-in meetings, or more mundane, manual tasks. I like to get out of the office before it gets dark, and have another boost of energy later on in the night. In other words, I thrive in a flexible work environment.
I feel most purposeful when I am facilitating a group towards a common vision. I like challenging the status quo and seeing the lightbulb go off in peoples’ heads. I enjoy feeling like peers with people across a hierarchy, really hearing people, and synthesizing insights about complex problems. I enjoy learning what my teammates want to get out of a project experience, and providing opportunities for them to learn and develop. I feel proud when I see my team’s work contributing to positive change, whether it is for one person or an entire community.
I am driven by the opportunity to build relationships and to learn. Constructive feedback is critical. Compliments are most meaningful to me when they are related to things that I work really hard on, including being “real”.
I am fulfilled by relationships built on deep conversations, with enough comfort for stupid jokes, doing bits, and getting extremely silly. I also need a plenty of alone time to recharge.
Getting to my mission
Through a series of exercises I learned the following about myself:
- My core strengths are connecting, activating, systems-thinking, including, and performing.
- My passions are my relationships, designing, dancing, nature, and working towards health equity.
- I most value justice, connection, equity, natural systems, and authenticity.
- Putting that all together, my professional mission statement reads: I aim to work across sectors to measurably and equitably improve community and global health and resilience. Through my full time work and extra-professional activities, I activate and mobilize teams around a vision, and support and magnify the impact of others.
Ways that I worked towards my values and mission in 2018
I changed behaviors to align with my values.
- I began a journey to put my money where my mouth is. I moved my checking and saving accounts to a credit union that is divested from weapons and fossil fuels. I opened up accounts with organizations that lend to small business led by Black and/or Indigenous people. I read about alternative economic models and tested my own decision-making and behavior before preaching to others.
- I made a few concrete steps to reduce my carbon footprint. I no longer buy plastic snack or sandwich bags, foil, or plastic wrap. I use reusable Planet Wise bags and beeswax wraps. I buy produce from the Farmers’ Market every Saturday. I reduce food waste by buying only enough food for the next few meals. I compost. I did not travel internationally in 2018 and tried my best to limit air travel.
I identified my spheres of influence and leveraged my network and access to advocate for change.
- With our Chief Health Equity Officer, I co-created an online employee-focused community and blog focused on health equity and structural racism. I wrote and published 12 articles. Three appeared on the home page, which reaches more than 300,000 employees.
- I met with leaders across our enterprise and made the case for integrating a climate lens into our work. This will continue into 2019. (Read my health/equity/climate manifesto for more context.) I officially launched a project exploring how to address environmental triggers that affect childhood asthma.
- I co-hosted the SF Climate Braintrust and attended the Global Climate Action Summit. See my reflections here.
I built physical resets into my schedule.
- My new years resolution was to jump in the ocean every 2 weeks. Rain or shine, cold or warm, with friends or alone, I did it! I didn’t have a very deep reason for starting this — I just missed being in the ocean — but it turned into kind of a metaphor for my year. It was a regular shock to the system, uncomfortable, and out of the way. But it helped me start fresh each week, to be hyper aware of my body and what is was feeling, and to scream, laugh, and play. It was a fun experience to share with others, and something I will definitely continue in 2019.
Ways that I will work towards my values and mission in 2019
I will focus on connection.
- I will work to better understand and learn from nature, starting by volunteering regularly at a farm in Oakland.
- I’ll develop meaningful relationships with my friends by observing nature together and reflecting on how these systems show up in our body and minds, in our relationships, in our communities, and in our work.
- I will prioritize more time with a core group of people, and focus on depth over breadth.
- I will listen to and learn from communities, and always challenge myself to take an appropriate role.
I will find additional ways to act in accordance with my values.
- I will continue to explore my relationship with money, saving, and investment. I will advocate for green and weapon-free 401Ks at work.
- I will take shorter showers and be more thoughtful about water conservation.
- I will eat vegetarian for the month of February. For the past two years I have done two vegetarian days per week, and I will explore increasing the number of days per week.
I will use my mission statement as a north star for current and future commitments.
Thanks for reading!
If you’re going through a similar process, have suggestions, or want a sounding board, please reach out!