Almost all of the larger companies have mission statements. These statements provide direction and define the purpose of the organization. Mission and vision statements are therefore considered to be vital in the business sector. However, when it comes to the individual, the power of having a personal mission statement is largely unknown. But why shouldn’t we as individuals create mission statements as well? Having a mission and vision for your life can prove to be exceptionally beneficial for your own progress. It’s as vital for you to define your mission and vision for life as it is essential for any organization. By formulating your personal mission statement you can lay a rock-solid foundation upon which you can build your life. It helps you to define your purpose and serves as the leitmotif for all your actions. A personal mission statement can also provide clarity and helps you to steer all your actions in one direction. In this guide you will find everything you need to know about personal mission statements and how to write them.
You do have a purpose in life. A personal mission statement enables you to become more aware of the true purpose of your life. It further helps you to live your life with purpose. You might not be entirely aware of it at the moment, but you do know deep inside your heart what’s really important to you. The mission statement helps you to express more of these values and core beliefs in your daily life. In this sense, the personal mission statement will help you to change how you live – towards living a purpose-driven life.
“The principles you live by create the world you live in. So when you change the principles you live by, you can change your world. Your mission statement serves to summarize the principles you want to live by.”
Stephen R. Covey
The exceptional power of creating a personal mission statement lies in the creation of a vision for your life. The statement helps you to increase your commitment to the particular mission of your life and the values centered on it. It will also add a sense of purpose to your life and can profoundly shape your general outlook. But even more importantly, the mission statement will provide clear direction for all your actions. It will show you what kind of future you want to create and what you can do to get there.
No matter if you use your personal mission statement as a general guide or a specific under the ray of hope specifically when the going gets tough, it will add focus, purpose, motivation and hope to your life. Let’s have a look at everything you need to know to create your own manifesto.
The Personal Mission Statement Guide
Table of contents
What is a personal mission statement?
How to write a personal mission statement?
Personal mission statement examples
Personal mission statement examples for students
Personal mission statement template
Let’s start with the basics.
A personal mission statement is a short statement that defines your purpose in life. The statement details who you are and who you want to become. It provides a vision for your life and acts as the solid fundament upon which you can build your entire life. The statement also guides all your actions and helps you to steer everything you do in the right direction. In short, the personal mission statement is the leitmotif and constitution of your life.
The creation of your personal mission statement gives you the opportunity to define what is really important to you. It will give you a sense of purpose and helps you to understand the very reason for your existence. But the statement will also help you to establish your core values and beliefs. Doing so helps you to know who you are and how you define success in life.
By having a mission and vision for your life, you will know precisely why certain things need to be done. Your vision will help you to endure all the hardship in your life. It will motivate you to boldly confront every challenge that presents itself. And it will also help you to have the necessary willpower and perseverance to overcome all the obstacles that stand in your way.
Going the extra mile is not always easy. And you certainly won’t be able to do it, if you have no clear idea why you’re doing it. If you have no clear purpose, then you will be more likely to simply give up. That’s where your personal mission statement comes in handy. It gives you courage during times of difficulty and energizes you to do whatever necessary to accomplish your vision. The statement can make the difference between living a purpose-driven life and being involuntarily thrown around by the random circumstances of life.
Take yourself the time to write your personal mission statement down on paper. It’s well worth it! By writing it down it will become the foundation for the major decisions and daily choices in your life – your very own constitution that guides all your actions. You can use the statement to return to whenever you need encouragement or when times get tough. The statement can work wonders on your motivation and overall outlook on life. It will further bring much-needed purpose and focus to your life whenever you’re struggling with the decision about which direction to take.
Personal mission statement guidelines
There are no commonly accepted rules or specific formats you need to observe. The following guidelines, however, may prove to be helpful when creating your statement:
- Keep it simple and brief. The mission statement does not have to be excessively long. The best statements are clear and concise. You can maximize the power of your mission statement by keeping it in between 3 to 7 sentences.
- Keep it positive. It’s important to avoid negations (“I don’t want to…”) in your mission statement. That’s mainly because the human mind cannot process negations. So whenever you formulate a negative statement, such as “I don’t want to be selfish,” the brain interprets it as “I want to be selfish.” Instead of focusing on what you don’t want, focus on what you want to become. Avoid negative statements or find more positive alternatives.
- Make it emotional. The statement details your mission and vision in life. It should infuse you with passion and ignite the fire within you, whenever you read it. What better way to avoid this from happening than to create a rational, boring and uninspired statement? Make your mission statement emotional. Put all your heart into it and create an energizing, motivating and inspiring piece of art.
- Keep it relevant. Your mission statement should provide relevant guidance for your everyday decisions.
- Make it future-oriented. It’s absolutely no problem to use what you’ve already accomplished as stable fundament upon which you build your future. But make sure that the statement is not solely based on the present. It should not be fully centered on the present. Instead, detail who you want to become and where you want to be.
- Include areas of improvement. Address the very habits, behaviors, values and character traits that you want to improve or develop.
Let’s focus in the following on how you can write your personal mission statement.
Writing a personal mission statement in 9 concise steps
The following steps are designed to help you in creating your own personal mission statement. To get you started in the best way possible, it’s necessary that these steps address a variety of different aspect of your life. Therefore, the following guide on how to write a personal mission statement takes a holistic approach. This means that important aspects, such as beliefs, values, aptitudes, will be considered when formulating your mission.
Step #1: Draw inspiration from other people’s lives
The inspiring example of the people you admire is a great place to start with. You can draw quite a lot of inspiration for your own mission statement from the shining examples these extraordinary people set during their lifetimes.
For my own experience, most people that want to write a mission statement struggle a little bit in the beginning. They often times don’t know exactly what they should include in their statement. This is where your role models can tremendously help you. They will help you to find admirable qualities that you find worth striving for. Be sure to take notes on all their behaviors and qualities you find worthwhile.
The powerful inspiration you can draw from these people’s lives is twofold. Firstly, you could seek to discover what kind of qualities distinguished them. See if you can find desirable qualities that you would like to integrate in your own life. Perhaps you’ll find something as specific as personality traits or values you wish to emulate. But you can also adopt something broader such as these people’s way of living and their unique style of thinking. Consider as many aspects of these people’s lives that you find worthwhile and take note of these.
Secondly, find inspiring mission statements of the very people you think highly of. There are a broad number of personal mission statements publicly available, ranging from famous CEOs to spiritual leaders such as Gandhi. Simply think of a person you admire and see if you can find any information about their mission in life.
Step #2: Identify what made you great in the past
The second step of creating your personal mission statement takes a reflective approach. By highlighting your past successes you can gain a better understanding about existing qualities that you would like to preserve or expand upon. Everybody has already an excellent fundament they can build upon. It’s not necessary to throw everything over.
Try to identify what made you great in the past. In which situations did you shine in a light of excellence? What are your best accomplishments and what kind of favorable qualities helped you to accomplish them? Which of your worthwhile qualities have become dormant or faded into the background?
Identify everything that made you great and all your qualities that are worthwhile.
Step #3: Determine your core values
The third step is designed to help you discover the most important values that define who you are. Try to analyze the different aspects of your value system. See if you can identify the most important values. You could also ask yourself what your priorities in life are and what specific qualities resemble you the most. With what kind of positive attributes or qualities would you describe yourself?
After you’ve identified your core values, see if there are other values you’d like to emanate. Focus on identifying qualities and values you find worthwhile, but do not possess or embody currently.
This twofold process helps you to get a good understanding about worthwhile values/qualities that you currently possess and those you wish to develop.
Step #4: Identify your talents
The fourth step is centered on the identification of your aptitudes, skills, talents and abilities. That’s an important aspect as the knowledge about what you’re especially talented in influences your life’s direction.
Seek to discover what special skills, talents and abilities you possess. Ask yourself which of your skills and talents are above average. Even more importantly, reflect which of your best talents and skills add joy and fulfillment to your life. That’s an important aspect to consider, as we thrive whenever we utilize proficient skills that we actually enjoy using. For this reason, it’s important that your personal mission statement includes those strengths and skills that add a great deal of happiness, joy or satisfaction.
If you wish, create a list of all the aptitudes and talents that spontaneously come to mind. These abilities can range from extraordinary proficiencies to really simple skills of yours that you find worthwhile. Once you’ve put a great deal of your talents on paper, highlight those abilities that add value to your life. Focus on the ones that you enjoy doing and the ones that satisfy or fulfill you.
Step #5: Define your ideal self
The previous steps were largely designed to help you develop a much better understanding of your present being. The previous techniques provide therefore the fundament for what is to come. From step five onwards, the focus of this guide will shift from the past and present towards the future.
The fifth step in the creation of your personal mission statement is the establishment of your ideal self. This is an important step that does not specifically focus on your mission and your goals. It is, therefore, not centered on the identification of your dreams, ambitions and wishes (i.e. what you want to accomplish), but on the person you wish to become.
You can use the results from #2 and #3 to define the qualities your ideal self should consist of. During this process you create an ideal of yourself that reflects those qualities and core values that are most worthwhile to you.
If you struggle with this exercise then try to think about how you would like others to describe or remember you. So it’s a good start to think about the way you wish others would perceive you. From there on, you’ll get quite a number of valuable ideas.
Step #6: Determine what you can contribute
Your personal mission statement lacks a great deal of motivational power if you do not know how your life contributes to the greater good. It’s a common trap many people fall prey to. Their mission statement is highly self-centered and one-sidedly details how they seek to satisfy all their egotistical ambitions. However, they almost always end up struggling to find the right motivation to further pursue their mission. Money, for instance, isn’t that much of a motivator once you’ve reached a certain level. Ask all those unfulfilled but deep-pocketed people.
The sixth step is therefore designed to help you identify what you can contribute to this world. You can take a very broad perspective and define what you contribute to the world or your community. But it is also a good idea to detail how you contribute to your employer, family, friends and those around you.
Let yourself be inspired by all those great visionaries that profoundly changed the way we’re living. All these people’s missions focused on the magnificent ways they desired to help make this world a better place.
Step #7: Define your purpose
Building on the results of #6, the seventh step consists of defining your purpose. While it isn’t easy to discover your life’s purpose, it is essential to include at least aspects of your different purposes in various areas of life in the mission statement. No good personal mission statement would be complete without addressing a person’s purpose. In fact, it is a key element of the whole statement. Therefore, it should not be omitted, even if identifying your purpose is difficult. Note: You can include the purpose of your life in the statement. However, when considering that many people have only a vague idea of their life’s purpose, it’s absolutely fine to find a variety of different purposes for different elements of your life.
Mind you, the definition of your purpose does not necessarily have to be limited to one broad purpose. Instead, you can define different purposes for various aspects of your life. In fact, doing so will help you to establish a greater level of balance. You could consider different purposes for your professional and family life, but also your physical, mental and spiritual well-being. Keep it well-balanced, that’s all that matters.
Step #8: Formulate SMART goals
No good personal mission statement would be complete without the definition of goals. Step 8 concentrates therefore all the insights you’ve gained from step #1 to #7. The intention behind this is to distill your results from the exercises above into specific goals.
Think about the aims you wish to achieve in your life. What is it that you want to accomplish with your life? And most importantly, who do you want to become?
Keep in mind to formulate your goals based on the SMART-principle (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-sensitive). Be sure to include short-term (1 to 4 years) as well as long-term goals (5 or more years). You could also detail the different steps you intend to take to accomplish these aims.
Step #9: Create your personal mission statement
Finally we’ve reached the last step of this list! If you completed each exercise from step #1 to #9 you’re nearly finished. In the last step you concentrate all the results, insights and highlights from the previous exercises into your personal mission statement.
As already pointed out in the guidelines, it’s best to keep the statement concise and positive. The way you format your statement is up to you. Some people prefer bullet points, while others like to keep it all within one paragraph.
The following examples help you to get a good idea how personal mission statements can look like.
When crafting your mission statement it can be quite helpful to have a couple of examples at hand to inspire you. In the following, you can find examples of personal mission statements.
My mission in life is to live life to the fullest. It is my wish to live with integrity, honesty, compassion and kindness. I also seek to make a positive impact in this world and desire to help in making this world a better place. Because of this, I wish to make a difference in people’s lives by helping them to live a better life. I’d like to empower others so that they can live to their full potential. This is what motivates me to continue my quest in attaining mastery in life. In order to accomplish my mission, I will work diligently and with great care on the achievement of my goals.
It is my mission in life to serve God and to live a spiritual life. I wish to take part in God’s plan and seek to help manifest God’s will here on earth. Because of this, I seek to become a beacon of light who helps others to find the right direction in life. I also wish to apply all my God-given talents to contribute to the greater good. It is my faith that gives me strength and guides me wherever I go. In order to accomplish this mission, I will focus on becoming a faithful, honest, kind and honorable person who gives freely and helps others wherever possible.
My mission is to be a good husband/wife and a good father/mother. Because of this, I give my very best to support the members of my family in every way I can. I am aware of my responsibility and understand the importance of having a positive impact on their lives. My family is the reason that helps me to overcome all the difficulties that present themselves in my life. Everything I do, I do for the well-being of my family. I would someday wish to look back on my life and see how I equipped my children with everything they need to live a fulfilling life. For this reason, I will give my wife/husband and my children all the attention they need and deserve.
If you’re a student, it’s always an excellent idea to create a personal mission statement. The statement should not only address your aims at university, but also the overall purpose why you’re studying. In many instances, subjects can be quite boring, which is why it’s all the more important to gain a deep understanding why it is worthwhile to overcome all these difficulties. Simply stating that it is your mission to become a good student won’t do the trick.
My goal in life is to become a [insert profession here]. My overall wish is to pursue a career path in which I can put my skills and talents to a good use. I also seek to find a profession which helps me to derive meaning and satisfaction from my life. I further wish to reach a career position that helps me to provide all the things necessary to live a happy and fulfilled life. Because of these wishes, I will study hard and diligently. I wish to make use of this exceptional chance I have been given in order to educate myself in the best possible way. All my efforts I make for University are centered on becoming a skillful [insert desired profession here.]
My mission in life is to derive satisfaction, joy and fulfillment from my life. For this reason, I wish to explore the world and all the pleasures it has to offer. My core values of curiosity, honesty and kindness provide the necessary framework that helps me to identify and pursue those sustainable joys and pleasures that hold the greatest potential for growth. Because of these dreams, I will make good use of the time I spend at university. Studying helps me to gain specific knowledge on subjects that will help me in my life’s quest. For this reason, I seek to educate myself as best as I can. My mission is the sole reason why I give everything to succeed at university.
While it’s recommended to formulate your own statement, there are certain templates you can use to make your life easier. You can use this template as a starting ground for further refinement. Simply replace all the words in brackets with your own statements:
- My mission in life is to [insert mission].
- In order to accomplish my mission I will work hard on [issues that need to be addressed or skills that need to be developed].
- My life’s purpose is to [insert purpose with description].
- For this reason, I seek to live my full potential by [include actionable strategies].
- I will stop wasting time and concentrate on [detail what you would like to spend your time with].
- In order to reach my goals, I strive to become a person of [insert desired qualities and character traits].
- Because of my mission, I will start today with [detail how you wish to change your life].
I hope you enjoyed this guide on writing a personal mission statement.