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Writing a Personal Mission Statement

A personal mission statement is a brief description of what you want to focus on, what you want to accomplish and who you want to become in a particular area of your life over the next one to three years. It is a way to focus your energy, actions, behaviors and decisions towards the things that are most important to you.

If your having trouble getting started, feel free to take a look at mission statements from Apple, Google, the Red Cross. Or consider some tough Admissions Essays medical school personal statements or sample mission statements to give you some ideas on a topic or structure.

Personal Mission Statement Guidelines

While there is no unique format or formula for creating your personal mission statement, the following guidelines may be helpful:

  • Keep it simple, clear and brief. The best mission statements tend to be 3 to 5 sentences long.

  • Your mission statement should touch upon what you want to focus on and who you want to become as a person (character) in this part of your life. Think about specific actions, behaviors, habits and qualities that would have a significant positive impact in this part of your life over the next one to three years.

  • Make sure your mission statement is positive. Instead of saying what you don't want to do or don't want to be, say what you do want to do or become. Find the positive alternatives to any negative statements.

  • Include positive behaviors, character traits and values that you consider particularly important and want to develop further.

  • Think about how your actions, habits, behavior and character traits in this area affect the important relationships in your life.

  • Create a mission statement that will guide you in your day-to-day actions and decisions. Make it a part of your everyday life.

  • Think about how your mission affects the other areas of your life. Is it consistent with your other personal mission statements? Will it conflict with or contradict something else? Is it balanced?

  • Make it emotional. Including an emotional payoff in your mission statement infuses it with passion and will make it even more compelling, inspiring and energizing.

Remember that your mission statement is not cast in stone. It will continue to change and evolve as you gain insights about yourself and what you want out of each part of your life.

 

Personal Mission Statement Sentence Templates

Here are some sample personal mission statement sentence templates to get you started (check out the values list for ideas on possible values you could use). Use these templates as seeds to get your creative juices flowing.

"To ... [what you want to achieve, do or become] ... so that ... [reasons why it is important]. I will do this by ... [specific behaviors or actions you can use to get there]."

"I value ...[choose one to three values]... because ...[reasons why these values are important to you]. Accordingly, I will ...[what you can do to live by these values]."

"To develop and cultivate the qualities of ...[two to three values/character traits]... that I admire in ...[an influential person in your life]... so that ...[why you want to develop these qualities]."

"To live each day with ...[choose one to three values or principles]... so that ...[what living by these values will give you]. I will do this by ...[specific behaviors you will use to live by these values]."

"To appreciate and enjoy ...[things you want to appreciate and enjoy more] by ...[what you can do to appreciate/enjoy these things]."

"To treasure above all else ...[most important things to you] by ...[what you can do to live your priorities]."

"To be known by ...[an important person/group]... as someone who is ...[qualities you want to have]...; by ...[some other person/group]... as someone who is ...[other qualities]...; ..."

Feel free to combine these sentences in any way to carve your own unique personal mission statement. Here is a part of a potential mission statement for the health & fitness area using the first sentence template:

"To be healthy, fit and energetic so that I can enjoy life to the fullest and have the energy to pursue all my goals. I will do this by exercising regularly, following a nutritious diet and eliminating negative habits that are impacting my health."

If you are having trouble getting started, choose one of the sentence templates (whichever one appeals to you the most) and copy it into your word processor; then erase the "...[]..." parts and read the sentence from the start.

When you get to a gap, pause for a moment, and then let your mind fill in the gap. Just write whatever pops into your head.

Repeat this a couple of times and then choose the sentences you like the most as your starting point. Later, you can add or refine your personal mission statement using more of the sentence templates.

Share Your Personal Mission Statements

Do you have a personal mission statement that you want to share? Add it to the mission statement samples page.

Updating Your Personal Mission Statement

Your personal mission statement represents a high-level one to three year plan for this part of your life. Because it focuses on the short term, you should check it regularly to ensure that it is still applicable to your situation and is leading you toward your long-term vision.

The Weekly Review time management best practice is a great opportunity to review and reconnect to your personal mission statement on a regular basis. In this context, you review your mission statement to inspire you and remind you of the important things in your life that you want to focus on so you consider them in your weekly plans.

In addition, I would also recommend a quarterly (or monthly if you prefer) review where you can focus more on revising and updating your mission statement based on what has changed in your life over the past few months. This quarterly review ensures that your mission statement remains relevant to your everyday decisions and actions. Think of these quarterly reviews as "course corrections" on your path towards your long-term vision.

Check out the Achieve Planner time management software if you want an easy way to keep track of your mission statements and guiding principles for each of your life areas.

Difference between Mission and Vision Statements

Vision statements describe your own unique vision of what an ideal experience in each of your life areas would be like (learn more about vision statements.) They tend to focus on the distant future looking forward five to ten years. They represent an ideal outcome.

Mission statements are based on your current situation and what you need to focus on in the next one to three years to move you closer to your long-term vision. While vision statements are passive, focusing mostly what you want to experience, mission statements are active focusing on your actions, behaviors, habits and character.

Mission and vision statements are complementary to each other. Vision statements show you an idealized description of your ultimate destination, while mission statements represent your chosen path to get you there.

Guiding Principles to Complement Your Mission Statement

Guiding principles represent your core beliefs, values, principles or ideals that guide you towards your mission/vision.

Some people like to use a prioritized list of values with short descriptions of how they want to live each value through this area.

Others prefer to use short quotes or maxims that represent an important principle. For example:

A1. Succeed at Home First - My success at work matters little if I don't have a place to come home to

This would be a useful guiding principle in the Home and Career life areas.

Most people like to have three to five guiding principles for each of their life areas. You can use as many as you like, but don't go overboard or they start to lose significance.

Like your mission statement, your guiding principles should represent the things you want to focus on over the next six months to a year. Be sure to update and re-rank them as part of your quarterly reviews.

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