2 January 2012, 11:53
“Now that it’s all over, what did you really do yesterday that’s worth mentioning?” (Coleman Cox)
Put this in your diary: “In 2012, I will write a personal mission statement.”
...But why would you want to do something like that?! Well, let me tell you a few reasons why writing a personal mission statement is important & useful. Firstly, it’s a fantastic way to figure out what your values are. This way, when you’re feeling bogged down with email, projects or meetings, you can quickly think back to your mission statement & be able to figure out whether what you’re doing today is relevant to what you want to achieve. The second reason why a mission statement is helpful is because it’s hard to make things happen when you don’t know what you really want! To get things done, you have to start with the end in mind, & a personal mission statement will help support your goals in a wonderful way.
If a “personal mission statement” sounds too heavy, you have my — our — your own — permission to call it something else. A statement of intent. A manifesto. Your quest, on paper. A vision communiqué. A declaration of fabulousness!
I know that the whole idea of this might sound incredibly serious & permanent. But it doesn’t have to be. In fact, the best mission statements change & evolve as you do. The things that were important to you five years ago may no longer be pertinent, & that’s wonderful! (It means you are progressing & growing!) So don’t feel like committing something to paper means you are bound to it forever. You’re not.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you don’t have to complete this in a day, or even a week. It might take you some time to put together your own mission statement. In fact, I’d be inclined to say that the more time it takes you, the better! Allow your brain lots of time to percolate & germinate the ideas! Start with a rough outline & fill it in over the rest of the month. Make this exercise something you create time for every day.
“A personal mission statement becomes the DNA for every other decision we make.” (Stephen Covey)
How to begin: Grab a piece of paper & your favourite pen. Get seated somewhere comfortable & write down some questions. I like these ones, but they’re just examples to get your juices flowing. There are no hard & fast rules with this!
I am at my best when… I am at my worst when… What do I really love to do at work? What do I really love to do in my personal life? My natural talents & gifts are… If I had unlimited time & resources & knew I could not fail, what would I choose to do? My life’s journey is… What would people say about you on your 80th birthday? What do I consider to be my biggest future contribution to the most important people in my life? Are there things I feel I should change or alter, even though I’ve dismissed these thoughts many times? What are they? Imagine you could invite to dinner three people who have influenced you the most. Write their names & the one quality or attribute you admire most in these people. Let’s think of balance as a state of fulfillment & renewal in each of the four dimensions: physical, spiritual, mental, & social/emotional. What are the single most important things you can do in each of these areas that will have the greatest positive impact on your life & help you achieve a sense of balance? What are your values? What is most important to you? What are some goals you’d like to achieve this year? What kind of image do you hope to project? Is it similar or dissimilar to the image you’re projecting right now? What are your roles in life? Are you happy with them?
Allow your mind to wander around these questions & scrawl down anything that comes to mind. It really helps if you can be open-minded about this, & not censor yourself. No one else has to see this, so please feel free to be completely honest!
Another great thing to add to this piece of paper (or multiple pieces of paper!) is a selection of quotes or sayings that evoke strong feelings or fan passionate flames within you. From doing this, you can start to see patterns around what is really important to you.
From here, you can pick key phrases as well as words that seem to keep coming up, & weave them together to make a first draft of your personal mission statement. There are no rules: simply put words together & see what appears in front of you.
“Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.” (Rumi)
Want more inspiration? Your mission statement doesn’t have to be straight-forward or plainly-spoken. It could be in the style of a haiku if you like! Erma Bombeck’s mission statement is written in the format of, “If I had my life to live over, I would have…” This site has a bunch of examples to look over. Debra Moorhead provides some more questions you can ask yourself, as well as some short & sweet mission statements to inspire you. Here are some mission statement sentence templates for fill-in-the-blank type fun! Work Awesome has a great piece about the art of the personal mission statement, too.
“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart.” (Carl Jung)
Alternatively, if you’d like to try an automatic personal mission statement generator (!!!), FranklinCovey has a free one you can try! (You have to give them your email address, but that’s no biggie.) It’s a fantastic way to get your thoughts going & investigate the truth of who you are, & who you want to be. I think the results are quite rad, too. Here’s what mine spat out:
“I am at my best when I am working on things which inspire, inform & excite others. I will try to prevent times when I feel confined or hedged-in. I will enjoy my work by continuing to create, dream big, connect with others, & share my vision. I will find enjoyment in my personal life through taking photos, travelling, having adventures & exploring. I will find opportunities to use my natural talents & gifts such as writing, creating, inspiring, uplifting others & speaking. My life’s journey is to love myself, & to inspire other women to love themselves too. I will be a person who has inspired countless others to take control of their lives, think big & live according to their own rules… My most important future contribution to others will be to show people that they can live however they want to, & that there are no rules. I will strive to incorporate confidence, creativity & chutzpah into my life.”
This was a great place to start from, but I wanted a shorter, simpler statement. Thankfully, I was able to whittle it down over the course of a few days!
Wild dreams & radical self love.
Curiosity, wonder & spontaneous delight.
Seek magic; adore the moment.
Dare to be true; dare to be eager.
Emancipate, & above all,
be a love letter to the universe.
I wrote my mission statement in big gold letters & stuck it to my wall, above my desk, where I can see it every day. I’m going to use it to guide my goals for 2012, to help keep me on task & remind me of my purpose.
It will help me navigate through the small day-to-day things, & give me perspective. A simple glance at my mission statement will help me decide whether to say “yes” or “no” to the opportunities that come my way. It’s the perfect way of distilling my ambitions & aspirations, of focussing my intentions, & manifesting my ideal future.
The fact that this piece of writing exists relaxes me. It reminds me that what I want is really quite simple, & to get there, all I need to do is be true to myself…
I hope you write a personal mission statement this year, too!
“To come to be you must have a vision of Being, a Dream, a Purpose, a Principle. You will become what your vision is.” (Peter Nivio Zarlenga)