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How to Create a Meaningful Personal Mission Statement

Tools and plans for creating a meaningful personal mission statement

Introduction

Your personal mission helps to guide you in achieving your goals. We discuss how to develop a meaningful personal mission statement.

 

Purpose

Your personal mission statement helps you to define and achieve your goals in a stated amount of time. It should reflect what's important to you, your principles, and your sense of purpose. It should also define how you are going to achieve your goals and in what time frame. Also, keep in mind that personal mission statements are not set in stone. You can change them and their time frames whenever needed.

If you have difficulty defining yourself in these terms, you might want to see what other well-known people have written for their personal mission statements.

Mission statements have two main components: a set of one or more concrete measurable goals; and a way of achieving each of these goals within some time frame. Mission statements are also usually short, something like a one or two sentences, but no more than a paragraph. For example, your goal might be "By better understanding the customer needs, I plan to exceed my sales quota by at least 110% and win the Salesman of the Year Award.." This sample mission statement is not perfect, but it is on the way to defining what you want to achieve.

Benefits

A well-written personal mission statement has these benefits:

  • It gives meaning and importance to your actions and your life
    • You want to be able to say, “I made a positive difference to others and they can say that I was a decent person.”
  • It adds clarity
    • Allows you to state simply, in one or two sentences, who you are and what you offer
    • You should be able to memorize your personal mission statement
    • Provides a focus regardless of the roles you play (parent, employee, friend, spouse, etc.)
    • Reduces confusion and conflicting feelings allowing you to stay focused and move forward
  • It is an excellent way of measuring our choises
    • Keeps our mission in the front of our minds
    • Keeps one centered on the purpose
    • Answers “Does it support my mission?”
  • It is a way of prioritizing your activities
    • Helps you put aside non-essential activities
    • Puts first things first.
  • It helps you to identify your talents
    • Maximizes your use of your talents by concentrating on those that help you accomplish your mission
    • Expands your talent pool by extending your existing talents to achieve your goals
  • It allows you to act, not react
    • Helps you control your life instead of letting others determine your fate
    • Helps focus what you plan to do
    • Helps you determine the direction in which you want to go
  • It lets others contribute to your mission
    • Because they understand your personal mission, they can assist you accomplish your goals

How to create a personal mission statement

Try to answer these questions:

  1. What personal qualities are important to you?
  2. What goals do you want to achieve and in what time frame?
  3. How can you and your goals benefits others?
To help answer these questions, you might:
  1. Brainstorm with yourself, parents, relatives, teachers, religious leaders, counselors and friends about your strengths, talents, deep-felt values and principles which are most important to you.
  2. Read biographies of people you admire.
  3. Use the Net to find:
    • personal mission statements of those people you admire.
    • software or sites which can help you build a personal mission statement.
  4. Take personality/aptitude/vocational tests.

It might also help you if you find a quiet place where you can think about your personal mission statement. Developing an effective mission statement is an iterative process. Your statement may start at a page or two, but over time it should be reduced down to less than a page and then down to a paragraph. The result should inspire you, cause you to want to be a better person, and give you direction.

Your mission statement may change over time to reflect changing times and circumstances. However, it should always reflect your fundamental values, purposes and principles.

Generic template for personal mission statement

You can use the following generic format, or variation thereof, for creating your personal mission statement:

I shall use my {list of positive attributes} by {list of actions} to {list of goals} and obtain at least {amount} by the end of {date}.

E.g. I shall use my determination, wide business contacts, and position as CEO by doing less micromanagement and fewer arbitrary decisions to increase our sales by 20%, expand our staff by 10%, and launch a give-back program for my alma mater by the end of 2012.

Criteria used to review personal mission statements

A personal submission statement will be judged based on how clearly stated it is, how practical, how it inspires, its beliefs, its goals, its timelines, and how focused it is. Also, unlike other types of submissions, this submission type is aimed at the author of the statement and not at a third party. As such, a review's value is in helping to bring clarify and focus to the client's thinking.

Examples of Personal Mission Statements

Compare the following personal mission statements to see which ones the person is likely to achieve:

Original version Final version
My purpose is to be a better person. I plan to be a better person by feeding the hungry with a monthly tithe and by promoting give-back programs at work in the coming year.
I want to bring happiness to my family and everyone I touch, while living a life that is full and fun. Living ethically is central to my life and I will try to solve life's demands on me using those princples. To improve the quality of my family's life, I plan to spend at least an hour a day with the kids, support their extra curricular activities with positive feedback, and take the wife out at least once a month.
These things are essential to me: a career in service, raising a strong family, and seeking the truth. Earning enough so my family will have a healthy lifestyle and a secure retirement are also important to me. I will strive to do these things by managing my money wisely. To promote my career in service, I plan to help organize the local food drive. To help build a stronger family, I am going to share in at least one activity with the kids and one interest with my wife. I am also going to focus on improving my work relationships by volunteering to mentor junior members of the firm. Lastly, I will involve the whole family in financial planning so we can live within our means and have enough set aside for future emergencies and retirement.

Resources

  1. "7 Habits of Highly Effective Families" by Stephen Covey and various web sites.
  2. "Maximum Achievement" by Brian Tracy.
  3. "The Psychology of Winning" by Dr. Denis Waitley.