Mission Possible

It Is Never Too Late to Refresh the Vision

By NAfME Member Dr. Lori Schwartz Reichl

“Vision is what you want to do, Mission is what you have to do.” Ritesh Ranjan

In preparation for the new year, we considered our ability to be present over the need to always be productive. Many of us spent the last few days or weeks of the previous year reflecting on the last twelve months by completing an “End-of-Year Reflection” activity, an “End-of-Year Checklist,” or creating a practice of pondering to best fit our needs and varying situations. If you have yet to reflect in this capacity, it is not too late! The holiday season and the first few weeks of the new calendar year may not have allowed for a time of solitude, focus, and review. (I often tiptoe into the new year while still reflecting and adapting during the first few weeks to allow for the time needed to properly reflect, review, and refresh.)

As the new year unfolds, many of us will (or have already) set goals, intentions, and/or resolutions based on those reflective practices. We may hope to add new habits, eliminate old ones, or revise current ones. Be cautious! If we rush into these changes, we may not stick to our calculated commitments. Some early and immediate attempts to change may have already slipped away! Did yours? If WE do not stick to them, how can we expect those we lead to do so? Let us make key changes that will endure, inspire, and transform not just for one week, one month, or one yearbut for a greater impact. Make inroads. Don’t implode.

How will we go about this though? Who will we include in these changes? In the article, “Leading By Example: Making Key Changes in Your Career,” questions for reflection were asked. The first few questions listed may apply to any situation where you may be interested in making a change. Use these questions to discover why, how, and when you want to make a change for the new year ahead. Yet, funnel your answers to more accurately express a passionate vision, a purposeful mission, and a persistent change.

Questions for Reflection for this new year should include:

  • What is my vision?
  • What is my mission?

Before we can make a difference, we need to know the difference.

What is the difference between vision and mission? Do we even know? If you research these two words, you’ll receive many lengthy answers and varying definitions. One dictionary definition for vision suggests that it is the “ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom.” Mission is often described as an aim, calling, or important assignment. Yet, if we simplify these two words, we can easily understand the description that Ritesh Ronjan uses: “Vision is what you want to do, Mission is what you have to do.” The vision is the aspiration. It is where you want to go. The mission is the objective. It is what you resolve to do to achieve the desired vision.

What do you want to do?

A vision could be lengthy and detailed or as simple as a short motto. You could even consider two versions, such as an abbreviated one and a more detailed description. A comprehensive vision may include how exactly something may look in a month, the upcoming year, and beyond the immediate future. A succinct vision may consist of only a few words. At one point in your life, you may have created separate professional and personal visions. Yet, over time, your vision may morph into one to best reflect professional and personal intentions simultaneously. (Mine has.)

My succinct vision is to embrace uniqueness. What is yours? 

What do you have to do?

A mission is a specific task. It can be a statement that you recite or a summary of your purpose. It could be one course of action or have many steps to it. Consider researching several mission statements before you create yours.

My mission is to encourage individuals to reflect on our practices while making key changes to refresh strategies that represent a shared vision. What is yours? 

How will you ensure what you do?

Step 1: Embrace uniqueness!
Be certain that your vision and mission accurately reflect YOU and those you serve. If you don’t, the vision may not be achieved or presented with enthusiasm and the momentum you desire.

Step 2: Tell people.
At first, you may feel like keeping your vision and mission to yourself. This may work in certain situations. However, if and when you need support, no one can help if they do not know what you want to do, particularly if it is meant to serve a collective purpose.

Step 3: Check progress.
What is working? What is not? What has occurred recently to get you closer to the vision? What can you do more or less of to achieve the desired vision?

Step 4: Ask for feedback.
Find people who may be further along on a similar vision. Ask them specific questions. Ask them to review your mission statement and progress and offer their assessment.

Step 5: Revise when needed.
Don’t be afraid to alter things along the way. Has the vision changed? Did you achieve it more quickly than you thought? Is the mission working? Is the statement too lengthy? Is it understood?

word possible on bricks and stones

Photo by Chang Ye on Unsplash

Your mission, should you choose to accept it . . .

Consider composing a vision and mission for yourself, your classroom, your program, and/or your organization. If you have yet to reflect on the past year, make that a priority first. You can not move forward until you know what worked, what did not work, and what was missing or unnecessary. Be creative. Be concise. Be committed. Your mission is possible! It is never too late to refresh the vision.

About the author:

Lori Schwartz Reichl 2021

Photo: Richard Twigg Photography

NAfME member Dr. Lori Schwartz Reichl is a champion of mentorship and motivation in education. Her mission is to encourage individuals to reflect on our practices while making key changes to refresh strategies that represent a shared vision to enrich the classroom, company, and community. Dr. Reichl’s unique educational experiences have permitted her to expand her multifaceted career into a portfolio as a clinician, conductor, instructor, writer, and speaker.

Learn more: MakingKeyChanges.com. Subscribe to the Making Key Changes monthly newsletter or peruse Dr. Reichl’s professional development offerings and articles. Check out Music Reading Class, too!

Did this blog spur new ideas for your music program? Share them on Amplify! Interested in reprinting this article? Please review the reprint guidelines.  

The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) provides a number of forums for the sharing of information and opinion, including blogs and postings on our website, articles and columns in our magazines and journals, and postings to our Amplify member portal. Unless specifically noted, the views expressed in these media do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Association, its officers, or its employees.  

January 10, 2023. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)

April 2024 Teaching Music

Published Date

January 10, 2023


  • Music Education Profession


January 10, 2023. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)

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