Businesses require a mission statement if they plan to succeed. It is what defines who they are, their goals and ideas, as well as, gives them a direction from which to work. It drives them to follow their principles and beliefs enabling them to stay in alignment with their vision and values.
While this is great in theory, often businesses fail because they do not adhere to their mission statements because they are typically focused on administration and executives and neglect to include the employees. According to an article in Wharton University of Pennsylvania, May 2012, “Declining Employee Loyalty: A Casualty of the New Workplace,” employees who have no say in the organization have no real sense of loyalty or drive to see the business successful. 1
But what of a personal mission statement? Is it something of value for the average person’s life? According to some experts creating a mission statement can help define the purpose in life, inspire forward movement, and chart a path of success. Others may feel a mission statement impedes forward progress. This person gets so focused on the “written plan” he feels he’s unable to work around it should another opportunity present itself.
A mission statement, while written to be a guideline, should absolutely be re-evaluated, redefined and adjusted on a regular basis. Life has a way of changing our plans and goals but the mission statement can help us focus on dreams and plans, to reach the goals for careers, life and for becoming the person we want to be.
Then the question becomes, ‘how on earth do you write one?’ There are a variety of avenues to take, depending on the expert. While I don’t claim to be an “expert” I do have a mission statement (which is forever changing!) that helps keep me grounded and focused on the goals I want to eventually reach.
That said, I suggest beginning with the end! Begin by deciding where you’d like to be in your job/career, geographically, relationships, education, personal fitness or anything of importance to you one year from now, five years from now, and finally ten years from now. Write all this down. (Writing helps to define what you are thinking!) Think of it like a train, with each boxcar being connected to the one before, yet independent of the other, and constantly moving forward.
Next outline your core values which is what you believe and how you live your life every single day. These include the way you handle truth, personal relationships, make decisions, and defines who you are. If being authentic, honest, trusting, intelligent, industrious, or spiritual are part of listed core values, write why you believe these describe you. Examples are great validation of your beliefs and can be encouraging. Do the same for each word you've listed. Your list may be lengthy, but it’s important to recognize how you see yourself.
Thirdly, make a list of past accomplishments in all areas of your life including work, home, education, community and even family. Beside that list make a list of what you would like to accomplish or be able to contribute in each of the given areas you have included.
Using all you have accumulated, you can begin writing your personal mission statement. You should be able to identify your strengths, (and therefore your weaknesses), your goals based on your values and what you would like to accomplish. Using the original question of where you’d like to be in a year, five, and ten years from now, list beneath each year heading, your goals based on what you’ve already discovered. (These would be your boxcars!) Under each of your goals, again using your core values as a guide, write a specific plan of action, which will be help give you direction toward accomplishing each goal. You can either leave your plan in a list, or write it in paragraph form; whichever suits you best. Refer often to your lists or statements because it encourages and helps illumine the path toward forward progress.