Do you have a personal mission statement? Self-development experts, coaches and inspirational leaders have long encouraged the practice of hammering out a few sentences that summarize your overarching goal in life. My own experience would tend to commend the exercise as well. However, taking the time and effort to develop an effective mission statement that you are comfortable with is harder than you may imagine. I especially think a personal mission statement is valuable for leaders, since clarity around your core values will be critical for your success.
A well-crafted mission statement will be hard work. Mark Twain once said that “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” It is this “why” that takes some serious thinking. A mission statement seeks to encompass, at a high level, the reason you believe you were put here on earth. What am I doing here, other than taking up space? Articulating this concisely takes effort. You will therefore have to dig deep into your own worldview, your passions, your talents, and your values.
A mission statement is sort of a description of your “goal for life.” Do you have one? What type of person do you want to be? Do you know what you are aiming at? How do you want to be remembered? What are the priorities that govern your choices and actives? I think Mr. J.C. Penny was not far off when he said “Give me a stock clerk with a goal, and I will give you a man who will make history. Give me a man without a goal, and I will give you a stock clerk.” A mission statement is a sort of “goal” for life.
Though it may involve some pains to create, a mission statement can be a valuable tool to help you achieve the kind of life you really want to live. Stephen Covey, author of the famous “7 Habits for Highly Effective People” put it this way “A mission statement is not something you write overnight… But fundamentally, your mission statement becomes your constitution, the solid expression of your vision and values. It becomes the criterion by which you measure everything else in your life.”
There are all sorts of tools available to help you write a mission statement for your life. You can find them online for free. You can read articles about mission statements. You can buy whole books on the subject. But personally I think an easy way to start is just doing what I did: Grab some 3×5 cards and give it a shot. Start with “My mission is…” and go from there. If you are like me, you will write something…think about it…and then write a new one. And then a new one. It may takes days, weeks or even months. But eventually you will have a statement that can fit on that 3×5 card that you are reasonably happy with. You can always edit it later.
So what is MY mission statement? Well, I have never before shared it publicly, and I know it is far from perfect. But I’ll let you read it and hope that it gives you some degree of encouragement to write your own.
“My mission is to please God and serve others. I aspire to be a source of inspiration, encouragement, instruction, and assistance to those around me. I will approach life with humility, curiosity, industry, integrity and love. I will seek to improve and use my talents and resources for as long as I can to as many as I can, and to die knowing I did the best I could. To God be the glory.”
Jason’s Mission Statement
So…will you write your own?