The history of blog articles on this website provide volumes of information on the benefits of and how to’s of crafting your own personal vision statement. Up until now, I’ve given little attention to the extremely important personal mission statement. This article is written to provide you with information on why you should write one, instructions on how to write one, and I will give you an example of an empowering mission statement (mine!) to help you create your own.

What is a Personal Mission Statement?

Most everyone is familiar with a mission statement developed for a business. Typically, these are short paragraphs proclaiming the guiding principles of the company, which are prominently displayed in the hallway as you walk into the corporate headquarters. The mission statement, commonly tied in with a values statement, proclaims the purpose of the company dictated straight from heart and soul of its founding fathers. This short paragraph explains corporate core values and gives a greater sense of ‘why’ the business is in the business that they are in - and no, you won’t find many mission statements read that their purpose is to make money! While money might be a short term motivator for employees, that guiding principle alone will not inspire long term and sustainable value for a consumer who will undoubtedly perpetuate the business over time.

About a decade ago I was working with a small environmental software company and there was no prominently displayed mission statement for everyone to see. I recall that during a very busy and challenging time in which we were putting out a lot of fires, I asked our president and founder about our corporate mission. I was so frustrated with all the tasks that I lost the meaning behind what I was doing. Were my current activities even aligned with our core principles? Reviewing the corporate mission was a good values check in, it was a way for me to ground myself and to reframe the work that I was doing. This too can be the significance of a personal mission statement.

The personal mission statement is essentially the same in concept as a corporate mission statement. While almost every business has a corporate mission statement, I’ve come across very few people that have developed their own personal mission statement. Its an interesting observation given the power of such a simple act. Similar to a corporate mission statement, your personal statement is a short written proclamation of your core values displayed prominently to help guide you through the difficult decisions and questionable times life may present. Its a ‘note to self’ reminding you of the purpose behind the actions you take in all walks of life. It provides inspiration, motivation and is a barometer to check the alignment of your actions with your values.

Why should I write out my Mission Statement?

If I have not written enough at this point to inspire you to take the 15 minutes to write out your mission statement, let me give you a few more reasons to do so.

Firstly, I am not lying when I say it takes 15 minutes - the values that will be expressed on your mission statement are already within you and when you think about what is truly important to you, it will flow very quickly. Some people like to make it pretty, frame it etc which I admit will take more time. But fundamentally all you need is a pen and piece of paper and you are ready to go.

Secondly, writing down your mission statement is an act of raising consciousness. This is a huge step in personal development. By setting a visible reminder of what is most important to us, it becomes engrained in our being, and we begin seeking ways to align our lives even moreso with these values.

Thirdly, its a fantastic barometer for your current situation. It provides an awesome personal test to see if today’s activities best represent where you want them to be. You’ll get the answer quickly to the question - How well am I living by my guiding principles right now?

Lastly, its fun. You’ll have a blast with this project. I’ve never met anyone that has done this and felt it was a burden and not useful. Quite the opposite, people love doing this and feel its valuable time spent on their own personal growth.

How to Write a Personal Mission Statement

I’ve read, heard presentations on, and listened to many people share models for the most empowering ways to write out their personal mission statements. The beauty of it is that I’ve heard so many different approaches that I can truthfully proclaim that there is no right or wrong way to develop one. I’ve heard of elaborate stories of spiritual counselors walking their clients through guided visualizations to surface their inner most values, and simple suggestions like get a pen and paper and ‘just do it’. Some feel this should be something done alone such that their ideas are not tainted by others, while some feel that having others support them in pointing out personal qualities might be a good kickstart to get the creative process flowing. So my message to you is that you should find the method for writing it that feels right and is most inspiring to you (that’s who it is for after all).

Given that pre-amble, here are some suggestions I have that are worthwhile to consider in writing your personal mission statement:

* The mission statement should be short such that it can be read daily. It should be on the range of 2-4 sentences. If it is any longer you may be touching on many things that are important to you but not the core principles behind them - so dig deeper to find the common thread.
* Set a time limit. Give yourself a maximum of 30 minutes to write it. If it takes longer, you’re probably over thinking it. Write down what you’ve got and choose to come back to it later.
* There is no such thing as perfection. You may not have the words perfect, or the sentence structure exactly as you want it on the first round. Its OK. You do not need to make this a bigger deal than it is. If you realize in a month that you left out a value that is extremely important to you and are uncertain how you missed it, then add it later.
* The mission statement can change with time - you are welcome to update it when/if appropriate. I find that typically our core values do not change too often, but there is a tendency for them to shift when a major life event occurs (ie: having children)
* Begin by brainstorming a series of questions. Whats important to me? What do I love to do? What makes me shed tears of happiness/joy? What would I like to be remembered for after I pass away?
* The mission statement must be written down and posted in a visible location (this is the most important aspect that all models share)

One set of guidance I’ve enjoyed sharing is to consider what you’d like your gravestone to read and to use this as input into what you should write in your mission statement. You can imagine - "Here lies Doug - He liked tennis, was a wellness/life coach and had 2 children" probably wouldn’t cut it. Yeah, it may tell you a bit about me, but a tombstone should provide a timeless insight into the values that carry my soul into infinity. Such too is the mission statement.

Example Mission Statement

Here’s an example for you to enjoy and model should you so choose.

Doug’s Mission Statement

My mission is to empower individuals across the globe in living balanced, fulfilling, physically and spiritually healthy lives. I myself live my life as an example of these principles. Through compassion, respect, dedication and consideration I pledge to demonstrate my love for and to support my amazing family and the community at large as my life brings meaningful and powerful change on the small and large scale.

Closing Thoughts

In many readings, I see all too often a tendency to intermesh the mission statement with a vision statement and personal goals. While no harm is done by doing this, a mission statement written in such a way is not truly a mission statement. There is a tendency for it to lose its value based approach and shift towards ‘doing’ when these are combined. The mission statement is meant to dig deeper into your core self. It asks - What’s really important to you beneath the ‘doing’ and ‘goal setting’? By all means, those are important things to consider, but they are not components of a mission statement. I suggest that three separate written documents define your mission, vision, and goals.

While the mission statement does not define your vision or goals, it provides a huge amount of direction in developing these. As you can see in mine written above, my mission is to empower a global community in having a more balanced life. I don’t go into how (goals/actions), or what that specifically looks like (vision), but it is very clear that this is something that is important to me and will be a component that crafts my vision. Similarly, the values of compassion, respect, dedication, consideration and love are all traits I deeply care for and they guide me in the way I act. They do not however set my goals.

Again, I encourage you to spend 15 minutes, post your vision in a visible location & if you would like to share it, please comment on this blog with your personal mission statement for others to enjoy!

Author's Bio: 

Dougs educational background includes a B.S. from the University of California at Santa Barbara, an MBA from the University of Arizona, he is a Certified Life Coach and is currently completing a certification as a Health and Wellness Consultant. In addition to owning and operating The Wellness Coach and, Doug also works part time with Sutter Health Partners as a Lifestyle Management and Wellness Coach.