Do you have a clear vision of the life you want to live? Does that vision align with your strengths, personality tendencies, values, dreams, and passions? How well does the life you’re living today align with that vision? Keep reading to learn how a personal mission statement can help you to do more of what you love.
If you were to ask me these questions seven years ago, my answer would have been not at all. I believed that I was on the path to “success.” But in reality, I was trying to live up to everyone else’s expectations and rules, not my own.
The “success” I was aiming at was thirty years in the future. I spent my days doing things I didn’t really want to do. All of my dreams were pushed aside, waiting for someday.
I think that a lot of people in my generation can relate to this. We grew up with the expectation that you go to college, get a good government or corporate job, get married, buy a house, have babies, then eventually retire and do all those things you dreamed of.
Somewhere along the way, many of us discovered that we were not truly happy. Some of us found that we picked the wrong career path. Others came to terms with the fact that the person they married is not a good fit. Or maybe we simply realized that someday may never come.
Many people brush this off and say, it’s probably just a midlife crisis. But I see it as an awakening. It’s an opportunity for a second shot. Something is telling us that the life we’re living is out of alignment. The pain is there to serve as a catalyst for change.
By the time we notice these feelings of discontent, most of us have stuffed down our natural strengths, dreams, and passions so long that we don’t know where to begin. I remember feeling disappointed and lost. I knew I wasn’t living my best life, but I wasn’t sure what that life even looked like.
Personal Mission Statement to the Rescue
Wikipedia defines a mission statement as a declaration “used to communicate the purpose of an organization.” It “should guide the actions of an organization, spell out its overall goal, provide a path, and guide decision-making.”
“A personal mission statement is a brief description of what an individual wants to focus on, wants to accomplish and wants to become. It is a way to focus energy, actions, behaviors, and decisions towards the things that are most important to the individual.”
Your personal mission statement is going to communicate your purpose and why you are here. It will guide you in achieving your goals by providing the framework to get there.
What to Include
A personal mission statement has two basic elements. The first part is about what you want to contribute and accomplish. The second part highlights the qualities and characteristics you want to develop. The first part is about what you want to do. The second is about who you want to become.
Notice this doesn’t say, what other people think you should do or become. A personal mission statement focuses on your unique skills and abilities. It’s designed to incorporate your values, dreams, and passions. Your personal mission statement is about you so try to let go of external expectations as you work through this process.
Questions to Consider
Here are some questions to consider as you begin to create your own mission statement. You don’t need to answer every question. They are simply here to guide you.
- Who do you want to become?
- What do you want to do more than anything?
- What are your greatest strengths? Of these strengths, which bring you the most joy?
- If you had unlimited resources and had already traveled the world, how would I spend your time?
- What three things do you value most in life? How do you ensure you keep these things first?
- What have been your greatest moments of happiness and fulfillment?
- How do you want to be remembered?
- Who has had the most profound impact on your life? What are the characteristics you admire most in these people? What important lessons have you learned from them?
- What have you always wanted to do but have been afraid to try? What would you do if you were guaranteed to not fail?
- What are the most important roles you fill in life?
Don’t worry about making your mission statement perfect the first time around. Expect that as you grow and evolve, your mission statement will too.
Your mission statement should be as unique as you are. Write it in a way that inspires you and expresses your individuality. Personal mission statements are meant to serve you, not to impress others.
Success doesn’t come from writing a perfect mission statement. Success comes from living your mission throughout your daily life. Plan to begin taking action on your mission immediately.
Make the most of your mission statement by reviewing and refining it regularly. As you take action toward your goals, you will change and grow. As you change and grow, so will your mission statement. Schedule regular reviews in your calendar app on your smart phone.
Here are some questions to consider when reviewing your personal mission statement.
- Does your mission take into account your greatest strengths?
- How does your mission statement encourage you to leave the world a better place?
- Does your mission statement inspire, challenge, and motivate you?
- What do you need to start doing today to help accomplish your mission?
Personal Mission Statement Examples
Here are a few examples of personal mission statements. They range from Walt Disney’s simple desire to make people happy to Gandhi’s poetic prayer.
Make people happy.
To have fun in my journey through life and learn from my mistakes.
To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be.
Let the first act of every morning be to make the following resolve for the day:
I shall not fear anyone on earth.
I shall fear only God.
I shall not bear ill toward anyone.
I shall not submit to injustice from anyone.
I shall conquer untruth by truth.
And in resisting untruth, I shall put up with all suffering.
Write Your Personal Mission Statement
Now it’s time to write your own personal mission statement. If you didn’t work through the Questions to Consider, you’ll want to go back and review them now. This will help you narrow down who you are, what you want to accomplish, and who you desire to become.
Your personal mission statement should be composed in a way that will inspire and motivate you daily. For some that may be a bulleted list, for others, it might be a poem, or maybe you incorporate it into a painting. Make your mission statement as unique as you are.
Once completed you’ll want to find a way to keep your mission statement top of mind. Some people print out their personal mission statement and frame it to be hung on the wall of their office. Others commit their personal mission statement to memory and recite it daily. Some families have their mission statement made into a plaque or wall hanging. Check out this real life example from Mama Says Namaste.
Your personal mission statement is only as good as the action you take. Create a list of three small steps you can take this week to start living your personal mission. By being crystal clear on your priorities and taking the time to schedule what’s most important to you, you will set yourself up to achieve your most important dreams and goals.