How to write your personal mission statement in 5 easy steps
If you’ve read Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People then it’s likely you’re already sold on having your own personal mission statement. It all comes from habit number 2: begin with the end in mind.
The chances are though, that you either haven’t read or didn’t finish the book due to the frequent repetitions and rather verbose language (I put my hand up here!), or that although you agree wholeheartedly with everything it says; somehow you never quite enacted the theory like you meant to. So here’s a guide you can read in 5 minutes, and enact in about 10.
Why write one?
A personal mission statement gives you focus and perspective. Businesses have them for a reason, and when they're written well they inspire their people every day and make decision making so much easier and more natural from the top to the bottom of the organisation. An example of a good one:
"Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."
You can’t argue with that. You may have read recently about research that shows one of the most important things that keeps workers productive, committed and enthusiastic is a clear, meaningful mission that they feel they’re working towards. This just underlines how important it is that as individuals too, we’re also really clear what we want to achieve with our lives, and to ensure that we’re inspired and motivated to keep to that path, whatever life throws at us.
A personal mission statement should therefore state your intentions for your life, summarise your values, and demonstrate your commitment to living up to these values. It might sound like it could be quite complex, but they work best when they’re:
concise and inspirational
easy to memorise and repeat.
clear, engaging, and realistic, and describing a bright future.
This is how you do it:
Step 1: What personal qualities really matter to you?
How can you use and display these qualities at home and at work?
What are the most important values you want to express at work and in your personal life?
Step 2: Visualise yourself five years from now.
Where do you want to be? What’s the bigger impact you’re having?
What will need to happen in order for you to feel proud of your progress in five years’ time?
Step 3: Take everything above and use your own language and imagery to write your mission statement.
Give yourself as many drafts as you need to refine it. Remember, it should express the values that you would like to live and work by; and that above all, you must feel excited and inspired by it when you read it aloud. It could refer directly to an ultimate goal that you have, but it shouldn’t be confused with a goal – this is more a mantra that applies to everything you do.
“To have fun in (my) journey through life and learn from (my) mistakes.”
“To be the kind of person my dog already thinks I am”
“To be a force for change in the world, spreading possibility and positivity wherever I go”.
If you’re a visual person, perhaps there’s a photograph or illustration that reminds you of your mission? Make it your screen saver, put it on your fridge, do whatever you need to do to keep it front of mind.
Step 4: Review it regularly and change it if it’s not right.
Sometimes something will happen that rocks our world at its foundations. If that happens, and what’s important to you shifts, then change your mission statement. You must believe in it, whatever happens in your life.
Step 5: Start living it, every single day.
I hope you really enjoy creating your mission, and making it come alive.