My personal GTD system starts with purpose. At that level I have a
one-sentence statement of my life’s purpose plus a longer mission
statement. My mission statement takes my high level purpose and breaks
it down into the different areas of my life: physical, social, mental,
career, spiritual, etc. I’ve only made very minor tweaks to my mission
statement in the past couple years because it just seems such a perfect
fit for me. Because my purpose and mission change so little year after
year, they act as an anchor for me. At this level I’m not at all
focused on goals, projects, or actions. It’s more of a focus on who I
want to be, so it’s mostly about principles and character. This is even
a step above values (which can shift over time). So my purpose and
mission are about who I am, what I’m here to do at a very high level,
and what I want my life to mean.
The next level down is goals.
All of my goals are either need-based or purpose-based. Need-based
goals are largely “away-from” motivated goals. For example, if I don’t
put together a good accounting system for my business, I’ll end up with
a mess. It’s something I need to do, but it doesn’t contribute directly
to my purpose. But about 80% of my goals are purpose-based; these are
my “towards” motivated goals that derive from my purpose and mission.
Virtually all my goals for this web site are purpose-based. This site
has very little to do with filling my needs; it’s all about fulfilling
Now beneath the level of goals, we get into more
standard GTD. Here we have projects, and projects are derived directly
from goals. Also at this level I also include someday/maybe items,
which I maintain on a separate list.
And below that level we
have next actions. I also put my “waiting for” list at this level. I
usually only have about 4 -5 waiting for items at any one time, so I
just tack a “waiting for” section at the bottom of my next actions list.
Do you have a big picture vision for your life written down? What is the purpose or driving passion in your life? Do you have something bigger than yourself holding you steady in these uncertain times? I have my mission statement in my Moleskine journal inside the little hidden pocket and everytime I start to lose my focus or get off course I pull it out and remember who I really am. Steve Pavalina has some more insight into this whole concept of purpose…