Why You Need a Personal Mission Statement

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And how to craft one.

Women sitting in bed with white sheets writing in a notebook.

In his wildly popular book, 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, Steven R. Covey chose the crafting of a personal mission statement to be one of his handful of habits to change your career trajectory.

“What is a mission statement, you ask?” Steven writes on his website. “Personal mission statements based on correct principles are like a personal constitution, the basis for making major, life-directing decisions; the basis for making daily decisions in the midst of the circumstances and emotions that affect our lives.

“When we create a mission statement of our own and choose to live by it, we can flow with changes. We don’t need prejudgements or prejudices. We don’t need to figure out everything else in life, to stereotype and categorise everything and everybody in order to accommodate reality.”

Your mission statement will encompass what you value, and therefore doing everything in the context of that will mean you’ll never be far from that which is important to you – whether it’s a job that’s financially, personally or socially rewarding, it’s all within reach if you’re familiar with what it is that you really want.

For Oprah, her mission statement is: “to be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be.” For Richard Branson, it’s about joy: “To have fun in [my] journey through life and learn from [my] mistakes,” he has said.

If you’re ready to write your mission statement, here’s where to start.

Consider who you truly are

In order to know what’s going to fulfil you, having an understanding of how you operate as a person is of the utmost importance. What are your strengths, talents and skills? How do you deal with change, and as part of a team? It may seem like this aspect doesn’t create a clear path to your mission statement, but consider this: if you’re someone who’s resistant to making decisions and worrying about making it perfect later, is that fast-paced start-up you’ve been dreaming of doing really your best career path?

Get clear on your values

When you stray from your values, you stray from your purpose, and that doesn’t make anyone feel fulfilled. Are you someone who values adventure, or would you rather leave a legacy for others? Are you someone who wants to stay curious, or are you more drawn to security? Knowing this about yourself will help drive your decisions about that job offer, that promotion or that big life change, so it’s well worth getting to know your core values. If you need a bit of help, the Public Interest Research Centre has some great prompters for discussion on values with posters and cards – why not sit down with these, a coffee and give yourself the time of day?

Ask yourself some questions

To nut out the particulars, start by asking yourself these questions: what’s really important to me in life? What do I want my legacy to be? What makes me unique and how can I utilise these traits? What do I believe my life purpose or mission is? Answer these questions, and you’ve got yourself the basis of your personal mission statement.

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