I’m sure we’ve all heard of business/company mission statements. The concept of a personal mission statement is a bit different, but the fundamental principles are the same. There are various reasons to create a personal mission statement. In most cases, it allows the individual the chance to determine what’s important to them and how to maintain these important focuses throughout all of life’s ups & downs. A personal mission statement is also a very useful tool when we find ourselves at a career crossroads. Steven Covey describes developing a mission statement as “connecting with your own unique purpose and the profound satisfaction that comes from fulfilling it.”
So what is a personal mission statement? Michael Goodman of the New York Post tells us that a personal mission statement is “an articulation of what you’re all about and what success looks like to you.” To me, a personal mission statement explains who I am or who I want to be, what I want to do, and what are the driving values/perceptions that fuel these dreams. When used in the career sense, a personal mission statement allows us to identify businesses that have similar values/beliefs and helps us to evaluate the costs/benefits of any new career opportunity.
I’ll be honest – I’d never heard of a personal mission statement until about a month ago. My job requires so many hours of personal development and one of the online trainings on my list was about strategic thinking. In this six-part series of training modules, a wide variety of topics was covered; one of them being creating a mission statement for your hypothetical business. The instructor mentioned that personal mission statements could be made as well, but didn’t go into detail. It caught my attention and I thought it would be a great personal development activity to compliment my recent vision board endeavors.
I did some more research online about what all was involved in a personal mission statement. I know that most businesses have them and you’re supposed to know it as an employee, but can you honestly recite your company’s mission statement? I know I sure can’t! But a personal mission statement to me seemed like a logical step in developing a path for yourself. This could be done at any point in your life, and although I wished I had learned about this activity years ago (it would have saved me so many painful experiences), now is as good a time as any. And so, in the midst of Hurricane Matthew, I’m here envisioning my life’s purpose! And this isn’t such an easy task as I quickly realized. And it’s for this reason I thought I would break it down for you.
Creating Your Personal Mission Statement
Step 1: Attributes
The very first step is to put yourself in a positive mindset. One excellent way to do this is to praise yourself! Write down a list of your attributes – any defining features about yourself that make YOU unique. Tip: think adjectives and only accept the positive ones! No negativity is allowed.
independent, resourceful, happy, insightful, helpful, knowledgable, sweet, caring, honesty, hardworking, loving, organized, grammatical, caregiver, cook, baker, thorough, loyal, learner, student, mother, planner, teacher, intelligent, trustworthy, passionate, creative, strong
Step 2: Identify your core values
Generate a list of attributes that identify who you are and what you stand for. These are your non-negotiables and things you won’t budge on when placed in an argument or a compromising situation. Once you have a complete list, see if you can narrow down to your three most important values. Finally, find the one core value that’s most important to you.
determination, honesty, loyalty, trust, openness, creativity, passion, flexibility , respect
Step 3: Identify who you are or what you want to be
This is a very important piece of the personal mission statement, so don’t skimp on this step. Define the type of person you want to become; focus on you, not what you want to have or want to achieve. This ideal person should reflect your core values (see above). Consider all areas of your life: as a spouse, friend, employee, parent, etc. and who you want to be in each of those roles. Write down all things that you can think of. If you’re having some issues determining this, try this prompt: “As an ideal spouse (friend, parent, etc.), I want to . . . .”
As an ideal spouse, I want to be open and honest, to treat each other, with love and respect, and to support one another with our individual and shared goals.
As an ideal coach, I want to help others find their inner strength and confidence; to help others make healthy choices; to help others find a way to incorporate nutrition and fitness into their daily lives.
As an ideal friend, I want to be supportive and open. I want to be listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, and a partner in crime when needed.
Step 4: Identify what you want to do
This can be anything you are doing now, or something you envision yourself doing in the future. Don’t limit yourself – now is the time to be honest about what you want! If you’re having some issues determining this, skip to step 5 and come back.
I want to help people. I want to improve lives. I want to share my knowledge and my story to help others. I’ve struggled with so many issues in my life (weight, self-confidence, etc). I want to help others find their potential.
Step 5: Identify your successes
This is another very important step, so don’t skip it! Take some time to first identify examples where you’ve had personal success in the last 3-4 years. These successes could be at work, in your community, at home, etc. Write them all down. Next, look for themes in your successes list. Try to identify whether there is a common theme — or themes — to these examples.
I joined a company over three years ago and chose a career path that I was passionate about. I set my sights on this position and worked my way to this position within 2 years.
I found love and married with plans to start a family.
I’ve achieved my running goals thus far: 5K and 10K.
Step 6: Identify what your priorities are
Think about everything that is important to you and write them down. Don’t worry about ranking them; just focus on figuring out what is most important to you. This list can be as long as you need it to be!
Maintain a well-paying job and be successful
Maintain healthy and loving relationships
Maintain a career path that I’m truly passionate about
Start a family and raise intelligent, compassionate, and kind children
Own a house and build a home with my family
Be happy and enjoy the life that I build for myself
Help others and make a difference in the world
Continue to be a hard-working and honest
Be a loving mother and wife
Step 7: Identify your contributions
Make a list of the ways you could make a difference. In an ideal situation, how could you contribute best to:
- the world in general
- your family
- your employer or future employers
- your friends
- your community
I can make a difference by helping to educate others.
I can contribute my helping others to reach their full potential.
I can contribute by raising well-rounded and confident children.
I can contribute by sharing happiness and positivity.
I can contribute by giving my best effort to learn and carry out my job duties.
I can contribute by continuing to share my story and my experience with others in order to help.
Step 8: Identify your goals
What do you want to accomplish? What goals do you have for yourself? Make a list of your personal goals. Be sure to look at both short-term (up to three years) and long-term (beyond three years).
I will to start a family.
I will have a healthy and supportive marriage.
I will have a career that I am passionate about.
I will create a life where I am able to balance work and home.
I will be present for my children’s childhood in order to raise and educate them.
I will buy a house and build a home for my family.
Step 9: Identify your purpose for your life
There are four fundamental elements of who you are: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. In each of these areas, what is the most important way you want to express yourself? Write down a purpose for each of these areas.
Physical: I will treat my body with respect by feeding it the proper nutrition and practicing uplifting fitness daily.
Mental: I will treat my mind with love and kindness by talking positively to myself. I will always reach to learn more by being a life-long learner in order to expand my knowledge and skills.
Emotional: I will treat myself with love and affection through daily affirmations and allowing myself to experience full range of emotions. I will treat myself to positive and pleasurable experiences often because I deserve to be happy.
Spiritual: I will maintain an open and honest relationship with myself and God. I will continue to believe and have faith that my life is on the right path and to pursue a closer relationship.
Step 10: Write your mission statement
Pull all of the information from steps 1-9 together and write your mission statement.
I know this was a lot of information in one place. Don’t be overwhelmed. This is meant to take more than a few minutes and could possibly take you a few hours to complete. It may even take you a few days to pull together each of the steps. And that’s absolutely ok because this will become an valuable part of your life. You may only have a few attributes in the beginning of the exercise, but as you progress through the other steps, a positive thought may pop into your mind! You’re allowed to revise, tweak, and improve as any point in this process. In fact, I encourage you to review your personal mission statement regularly! You will continue to grow and as you continue to advance through life, certain aspects will change. Your values may change and your goals should change as you accomplish them. Keep your mission statement someplace where you can read it regularly. Think of your mission statement as the framework for your life. When it comes time to make an important decision, let it be your guide.
I will leave you with my personal mission statement:
I am a strong, creative, and independent woman who is loving and compassionate. I strive to maintain honesty in all of my actions and relationships. My mission is to be a loving wife and mother, an intelligent and resourceful employee, and a leader in all areas of my life. With my experiences, education, and knowledge, I will help others to achieve their highest potential. I will continue to contribute my knowledge, my confidence, and my story with my community and the world. I will maintain an open and honest relationship with my body, my soul, and with God.