How to Write a Personal Mission Statement for Your Life
Have you discovered your purpose in life yet?
Don’t worry if you haven't—most people have a hard time pinpointing the precise things that they want to get out of life.
Fortunately, there is a simple fix for figuring this out. Writing a personal mission statement is an excellent way to generate a framework for defining what you want out of life and discovering why your goals are important to you.
Your mission statement will ultimately serve as a guideline for all of your habits, routines, decisions, and future goals. Going over this statement every now and then will keep you on track and help you understand how and why your values may change with time.
You may be wondering, "What is a personal mission statement?" If you haven’t heard of a personal mission statement, you have come to the right place.
In this article, I’ll define this concept, provide examples, and then show you how to write your own personal mission statement. It will involve introspection and attentive work to craft something that is effective for you, but it will be worth it in the end.
Let’s get to it.
What Is a Personal Mission Statement?
A personal mission statement is a declaration of an individual’s purpose and path in life, emphasizing what is truly important to him or her. It lays out your core values, your expectations, your pledge to other people, and your measurement of success.
What are your passions, your long-term goals, and your plans for achieving them? Writing a personal mission statement will help condense all of this information into a succinct declaration so others can get a concrete idea of your purpose.
Personal mission statements were popularized when Stephen R. Covey suggested that people create them in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People.
Covey argued that individuals (not just companies) should have mission statements because having a mission statement helps focus what you want your character to be and what you want to contribute to society. In Covey's mind, writing a mission statement may be the most critical activity in taking control of one's own life.
No matter what stage of life you are in, going through the process of creating a mission statement can be beneficial. Whether you are a student looking to improve your grades or a CEO looking to live a more balanced life, a personal mission statement will give you clarity and focus.
A personal mission statement can help you in several ways. Not only will the end product benefit you, but the process you go through to develop the statement will be greatly beneficial as well.
Your statement can help define who you are as a person, and act as a representation of your purpose to other people when you are not present. It can quickly explain to other people how you aim to pursue your goals, and why they are important to you.
It is also important because it helps you make better decisions based on your core values to get you closer to meeting your long-term goals. It will keep you accountable for heading in the right direction of where you want your life to go because it will keep you from getting off track.
For example, if you have an idea to do something but it doesn’t fit within the boundaries of your personal mission statement, you will know that you shouldn't do it. You may come up with some neat ideas, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be worth it to follow through. Your mission statement will help you weed these ideas out.
How to Write a Personal Mission Statement
Once your personal mission statement is complete, it will seem simple. But if it is well done, it will involve a lot of effort. You have to give yourself enough time for self-discovery and self-reflection, and be honest with yourself so you can recognize your personality traits, your skills and abilities, and your core values, passions, dreams, and goals.
A lot has been written about how to write a personal mission statement. There are different ways to go about it, depending on the person. Don’t worry if your mission statement doesn’t look exactly like someone else’s. Each statement is unique because no two people are exactly the same.
Creating a mission statement is not something that will happen in a day. It requires careful analysis and contemplative expression, which may require many drafts before you are satisfied with its final form. Even once it is finished, you will want to review it often and make slight changes as your life brings you new insights or developing circumstances.
Start by thinking about your personal principles and goals in life. Think about the reasons behind your goals, and how achieving them would improve you as a person.
Your mission statement should be clear and concise, without any unnecessary details. There are many methods for crafting a personalized statement, but here are three that are the most effective.
3 Ways to Write Your Personal Mission Statement
1. Link together three elements: The value you create + who you’re creating it for + the expected outcome.
This template is suggested by William Arruda, author of Ditch, Dare, Do: 3D Personal Branding for Executives. Each element offered by Arruda is helpful to assemble the puzzle of your purpose, but the most important piece is arguably the first: your value. Your value defines your operating principles, and shows people what inspires you.
Arruda is careful to explain that this template for writing a personal mission statement is not the same as your job title. If you fall back onto your job title to define you as a person and describe yourself to other people, you are only becoming a commodity and associating yourself with every other person who has the same job title that you do.
Instead, your personal mission statement should make a strong statement of your personal brand, and show people the unique value that you create, who you are doing it for, and the specific outcome people can expect from your work.
Your personal mission statement tells people not only what you do, but how and why you do it, and who you are doing it for. It defines the distinct difference you can make for other people because of the individual value you bring to the table.
People who have strong personal mission statements using this template get noticed because they communicate their passion for their purpose in a relevant way to the people they serve.
2. Define, disseminate and demonstrate.
This three-step process is from the blog Everyday Power. According to this blog, the first step to writing your mission statement is to define your core values and beliefs.
In order to do this, you have to take time to do some self-reflection and think about what is important to you in life, the things you think are necessary for success, and your own personal traits. After you do this, you narrow it down to contain only the core essence of your purpose.
Once you have defined your values, you will need to disseminate your mission statement to the people who are closest to you. You have written this statement to define who you are to other people, so you need to share it and communicate your message.
Start distributing your personal mission statement to people who you trust, and who you believe will be able to give you valuable feedback. Talk to your contacts and mentors about your statement, and be open to answer any questions that people may have. While your statement should be concise, it can be a conversation starter for a more in-depth view of your purpose.
Once people are aware of your personal mission, it is time to demonstrate it through your daily actions and behaviors. Having a personal mission statement that is in line with who you are and your business philosophies is a solid and critical tool for success. Your mission statement should guide your actions, and you should be able to fully identify with it.
3. Live Bold and Bloom’s eight steps to creating your personal mission statement.
Another way to write a personal mission statement is to break the process down into several smaller steps. This eight-step process will guide you through some introspective thinking that will help you consider what you want out of life.
Step #1: Look at other people's lives.
Think about someone you admire, and the qualities they posses that lead to your admiration.
Write down any characteristics of this person that you hold in high regard, whether that has to do with their character, their achievements, or just their personality.
Step #2: Determine your ideal self.
Think about the person that you want to be in all of the areas of your life. Your ideal self should be a reflection of your core values and desired purpose. Think about yourself as being a friend, a spouse, an employee, a leader, and any other roles you consider yourself to live in.
This may be time consuming, but it will help you clarify your objectives and remind you of your capabilities.
Step #3: What do you want your legacy to be?
Make a list of all of your roles, and write down how you would want to be remembered in each of them. How do you want to be remembered as a parent, a friend, or an employee?
For example, you may want your family to say, “He was an honest man who was generous and inspiring to others, and a respected member of our community.”
It might feel uncomfortable to do this, but you don't need to share what you write with anyone else. Doing this exercise will help you concisely describe how you want others to see you.
Step #4: Find your purpose.
Write down your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual purposes. Consider the principal ways you want to express yourself in these four basic areas. Look at yourself as being the CEO in each of these parts of your life.
For example, when considering your emotional life, your purpose may be to learn to cope with your feelings and find the silver lining in any losses that come your way. If this is the case, you have to find resources that will help you meet this goal.
Step #5: Define your abilities.
What are your natural talents? Your mission statement should highlight your aptitudes and strengths because these are the things that give you joy and energy. When we spend time doing things that we do well and enjoy, we give our lives meaning and enthusiasm.
Make a list of all your talents, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem. Then pick out the skills that you enjoy doing the most and focus on these.
Step #6: Define your specific goals.
Considering what you have come up with so far, what are your SMART goals? SMART goals are goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
The advantage of SMART goals is that they are simple to understand, and it is easy to tell when they are complete. These goals should encompass the outcomes that you want to achieve in your life.
Step #7: Draft your mission statement.
Keep your mission statement simple and concise. It can range from a few sentences to a few paragraphs. You can start with a long statement and then narrow it down if that makes it easier.
You want to end up with a statement that will guide you in your daily actions, decisions, and long-term goals. Write in a positive tone, focusing on what you want instead of what you don't want.
Step #8: Refine it.
Take some time to alter your mission statement until you feel really comfortable with it. You want it to be a good representation of your core values and life's purpose.
Personal Mission Statement Generator
To simplify things, Franklin Covey provides an online tool that you can use to quickly generate a personal mission statement.
It involves a 10-step process where you answer questions about:
Here's a Personal Mission Statement generated by Covey's Mission Statement Builder.
If you need more inspiration, here are some excellent mission statements written by ordinary folks like you and me.
The Value of a Personal Mission Statement in Leadership and Personal Development
Creating a personal mission statement is an important element of leadership and personal development. A proper statement will push you to ponder the purpose of your life and pinpoint what is genuinely important to you.
Personal mission statements also require you to concisely clarify your deepest values and aspirations. They emboss your purposes in your mind, making them become a part of you. Referring to your personal mission statement is also a way to keep your goals and vision in front of you at all times.
Take just 10 minutes to start writing your personal mission statement using the resources that we listed in this article. Then, think about all of your goals and habits, and consider how they line up with your mission statement.
After filtering through your habits, ask yourself if your actions align with your life’s purpose. Keep doing this exercise until you feel like your daily routine and habits are situated in a way that will ultimately give you what you want to get out of life.
Writing your personal mission statement is an activity of self-discovery that will allow you to uncover things that you may not have realized about yourself. Writing a personal mission statement will allow you to get to know yourself better and further realize your sense of purpose in life.
If you want to learn more about this concept, a good starting point to writing your own personal mission statement is A Personal Mission Statement: Your Road Map to Happiness by Michal Stawicki. This resource will help you with your personal mission statement, no matter what your specialty in life is or what your long-term goals are.