Personal Mission Statements
Defining Your Goals
One of the most important things that corporate leaders do is define their organization's purpose, and identify what they ultimately want it to accomplish. They communicate this information in corporate mission and vision statements. These set a clear course for the organization, tell employees how they should focus their efforts, and prevent people going "off mission."
If mission and vision statements are so important to organizations, why don't we spend any time creating them for ourselves?
In this article, we'll look at the benefits of creating personal mission and vision statements. We'll show you how to create them, and highlight how you can use them to bring clarity to your own objectives and goals.
Why Create Mission and Vision Statements?
All of us have very different ideas about success. What's important, however, is that you spend time defining your version of success. Otherwise, how will you understand what you should be working toward, and how will you know if your decisions are helping you move toward your goals?
Used as part of your personal approach to goal setting, mission and vision statements are useful for bringing sharp focus to your most important goal, and for helping you to quickly identify which opportunities you should pursue.
Shaping this goal into a mission statement helps you keep it at the front of your mind, and helps you focus your energy and resources upon it. Without this focus, you can be distracted, or you can spread your effort too thinly across multiple competing goals.
By creating a personal mission statement, you make one of your personal goals supremely important. This gives you the best possible chance of achieving it, which is essential for some types of goal. However, if you focus exclusively on one goal, you'll inevitably have to de-emphasize others. Make sure that you're happy to do this, and make sure that people who are important to you don't suffer as a consequence.
Mission Versus Vision
So, what's the difference between a mission statement and a vision statement?
- Mission statement – This defines your purpose. It's what you ultimately want to achieve in your life or career, expressed in a specific, measurable way.
- Vision statement – This is a bit more emotional. Here, you define your core values, and how you'll apply those values to your mission.
As your career develops, your goals and objectives are likely to change too. So make sure you revisit your mission and vision statements regularly, and update them as required.
Creating Mission Statements
Follow these steps to create your mission statement:
- Identify what you do best – Your unique strengths will likely point to what you would like to do most with your life and career. Our Bite-Sized Training session Finding Your Unique Strengths will help you discover your strengths.
- Think about what success means to you – If you get stuck, make a list of past accomplishments that really made you feel as if you did something worthwhile. Your aim is to create a short list of measurements to help you track your progress.
- Identify your personal goals – Take the time to explore what you might want to do with your life and career, and then narrow down to the goals you most want to pursue, across the full range of life areas. Our article on Goal Setting will help you do this.
- Combine the first three steps – Look at your goals, your unique strengths and your idea of success, and then identify the one goal that you most want to achieve. Make sure that the goal is expressed in SMART format, and that it's expressed in as powerful and motivating a way as possible.
- Keep refining – Edit and perfect the words until you have a clear, concise statement that identifies your ideas, and how you'll measure the results.
Mission Statement Example
Using her USP Analysis, Kara has identified several unique strengths. She's creative, a great problem solver, and always maintains a positive outlook that helps inspire her team, even on difficult projects. To her, success means working in a challenging, creative role, and receiving a salary that she feels is fair and based on her accomplishments. Her most important goal is to become a member of her company's senior management team within the next seven years.
Kara's mission statement is this:
My mission is to become a member of the company's senior executive team by December 31, 2018, by empowering internal teams, and helping them solve challenging problems in a creative and successful way. In this role, I want to feel that I'm valued, and my salary and benefits will show this.
Creating Vision Statements
Now that you've created your mission statement, move on to your vision statement:
- Identify the humanistic side of your mission – Look carefully at the mission statement that you just created. What is most fulfilling about what you're going to do? What really impacts your emotions? And what will help other people?
- Make a list of your core values – Our article What Are Your Values? will help with this.
- Visualize who you'd like to become – Picture your "best self." Are you a strong leader? A compassionate friend? A mentor? Make a list of words that describe how you would like others to see you.
- Combine the first three steps – Bring these steps together, and write your vision statement. This should be energizing and motivating, and it should fill you with energy and excitement when you read it.
Vision Statement Example
When Kara looks at writing her vision statement, she realizes that she loves solving problems because this helps people. She's very fulfilled and uplifted when she's able to solve a problem that no one else can. This isn't because she receives praise, but because she's able to help reduce stress and frustration for someone else.
She identifies her core values as integrity, compassion, creativity, and helping people.
When she defines her "best self," she pictures herself as a strong leader, who lifts her team and helps push them toward their own achievements.
Kara's vision statement is this:
I want to help others grow and succeed in their careers. I'll use my talent for problem solving to help my people grow as individuals and become more successful as a team. I'll set an example for my team by sticking to my values and maintaining my integrity, even under difficult circumstances.
There isn't a specific formula for writing your own mission and vision statements, and you can make them as specific, or as broad, as you want. Just ensure that they're punchy and motivational statements that describe what you want to achieve.
Spending time creating personal mission and vision statements is well worth the effort. These tools can help you make important career decisions, and remind you of the direction you want to take in life.
Make sure you allow yourself enough time to think deeply about each step in the process. Identify the right words, goals, and core values. Then create clear, concise statements that are motivational and fill you with purpose.
Keep refining the statements until they're exciting and meaningful, and remember to revisit your mission and vision statements as your career develops.