Pursue your purpose by creating a personal mission statement
Do all of your responsibilities make it hard to keep your eye on your big goals in life? Would you like to develop a better ability to stay true to what matters most to you? Try writing a personal mission statement that reminds you of what's important.
Most organizations—including business, non-profits, and educational institutions—have created mission statements that express their highest goals. In fact, you may find your employer has established theirs by visiting its company website. Experts say that individuals, too, can benefit from developing one. Your personal mission statement can bring your big goals into focus, identify the most important ones, and motivate yourself to live by them.
What is a personal mission statement?
A mission statement is a brief description of your highest values and goals and how you hope to fulfill them. Creating your personal mission statement will give you a clear sense of who you are and your purpose in life. It differs from the kind of resolution you make at New Year which will typically consist of a short-term goal, such as losing 10 pounds or taking a class. A mission statement gives a "big picture" view that reflects your deepest values. It expresses what you hope to achieve on a day-to-day basis over the long term.
What should a statement include?
Some experts recommend that you put only one goal—your highest—on your statement, because research has found that people are most likely to achieve their aims if they only focus on one. Others think that because most of us have several or more core values, it makes sense to include a number of goals. The right approach for you is the one that will best allow you to define the direction you want your life to take.
How long should it be?
A mission statement is usually short enough for you to remember it easily—from a sentence to a short paragraph. The personal mission statement of Amanda Steinberg, founder and CEO of DailyWorth.com, has just 21 words: “To use my gifts of intelligence, charisma, and serial optimism to cultivate the self-worth and net-worth of women around the world.” To elaborate on her mission statement, she said in Fast Company, “I believe financially empowered women are the key to world peace.”
How to write a mission statement
Here are some suggestions:
Think about your highest goals in life. These may involve your physical and emotional wellbeing as well as your friends, family, work, spirituality, community, and other values. You might imagine what you would like people to say about you at your funeral and draw on that for your statement.
Record your thoughts on paper or electronically. Write down your goals and your ideas on how to achieve them. Then rank your goals in order of their importance to you. Ask yourself which ones will still matter in five or ten years. These may be the best candidates for including in your mission statement.
Write a brief statement that expresses your mission. If you need inspiration, read a few of the mission statements posted at MissionStatements.com. Or start with a quote, such as Deepak Chopra's "The highest levels of performance come to people who are centered, intuitive, creative, and reflective—people who know to see a problem as an opportunity," and modify it to fit your own mission.
Try using a template. If you find it hard to get started, try using a template such as the Mission Statement Builder on the Franklin Covey website.
It may take some careful thought to recognize your values and goals, so give yourself time with this process. Once you've written your mission statement, review it every year. Revise it as your needs change so that it will always reflect the person you want to be.