How to Write a Personal Mission Statement
How to write a personal mission statement seems to be the single most searched phrase regarding the matter of a personal mission statement, not “what is it?”, not “how it works” and not “why it works”.
I suppose it’s because Stephen R. Covey had quite a good way of explaining how it works, what and why in “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”.
In contrast, the part about writing your own mission statement wasn’t as brilliant as the rest. His collaborators tried to fill that gap by publishing “How to Develop Your Personal Mission Statement” after his death, but this work is skewed towards “what and why” too.
Of course my opinion is biased, because I also wrote a book about creating your personal mission statement. But other readers share my point of view.
Anyway. I‘ll explain to you in less than 1000 words how to write a personal mission statement. It is easy to write a personal mission statement. It is less about writing, really, than about analyzing yourself. Click To Tweet
Step 1. Ask the questions.
In modern society, we spend all too much time in what my friend called “survival mode”. We think about work, commuting, organizing the day of our family, looking for entertainment to charge the batteries before another workday and enjoying those entertainments. It leaves little to no time for being alone and giving some thought to the deeper meaning of all that hassle.
And when you just sit and ask yourself a bunch of questions, when you analyze the reasons for all of those frenzied activities, when you get out of survival mode, the rest of the process of writing your mission statement is easy.
Ask yourself questions. It is really as simple as that.
I have been preaching the usefulness of the personal mission statement for the past year. I met people who said they have no purpose and meaning in life, that they don’t grasp the idea of mission statement.
Some of them were content with those excuses and did nothing more about it. But I know at least 2 people who said, “I have no purpose”, but then they made some self-analysis, answered a bunch of intimate questions for themselves and, in the effect, they created their personal mission statement.
Ditch the excuses; overcome the internal resistance and simply answer the questions.
“But which questions?!” – You, of course are eager to know the formula. But there is no formula. It’s enough that they make you wonder about you, your preferences, values and desires. I included 27 question sets (sometimes one question leads to another) in my book. But I advised my readers to answer them in random order and not necessarily all of them.
Step 1b. Use your imagination.
Don’t restrict yourself to just dry questions and answers. Do some mental exercises, use your imagination. Put some emotions into the creation process. They’ll free up your creativity and dig out some deep stuff that you didn’t even realize is hidden inside you.
In my book I propose 10 different exercises. My favorite is imagining your funeral.
Close your eyes and see yourself in the coffin. Imagine the mourners around. What do they feel and why? What do they say among themselves? Hear the speeches from your spouse, your children, your workmates, your neighbors. Those speeches are the core of the exercise. Write down at least several sentences for each speech given.
I love this exercises because my visualization skills are very poor. It is more about words than the images and words I can play with. Tackling the images feels to me too much like work.
Step 1c. Write everything down.
Everything. Every single thought and emotion. If you skip this you may as well not start the process. Without registering the whole flow of your internal world, even the strongest emotions and the most vivid enlightenments will be forgotten sooner or later.
Step 2. Chisel away.
Your notes are your raw material. Now you are supposed to skim and trim it till you have the final product. It’s not important how many notes you got. I had several pages, about 5k words. One of my readers wrote down 38 pages.
While deciding what to keep in your personal mission statement and what to cut out, keep this question in mind:
Do I really want to think about it every day for the rest of my life?
We are talking about your mission in life. You will be reading those words every day for the rest of your life. Skip the trivia. Focus on what’s important.
The final product should be concise and precise. You should focus on several issues and roles which lay at the center of your life. Don’t include the description of countries you want to visit if you want to travel to help natives improve their lives and that’s your core mission.
You can use external material too—fragments of books, quotes of famous people, fragments of letters or love poems you’ve written/received, your favorite song’s text, the Holy Book of your religion.
3. Use and rewrite.
Once you have your personal mission statement written down, use it. Read it at least once a day.
Memorize it. Repeat it to the point of boredom. Doing this you will find the points which just don’t feel right. Change them or throw them out.
You will continually work on your mission statement, adjusting it to the new directions your life will head toward.
But, that’s for the future. You need only the first raw version to write it.
I cut out 1 out of the 14 points I had built my statement around. I significantly changed 2 more. The recent change I made was changing “I’m becoming a writer” into “I am a writer”.
That’s it. You already know how to write your personal mission statement. Start the process now.
You surely agree it doesn’t sound complicated, just a few simple steps anybody can do:
Ask yourself questions.
Answer them honestly.
Write down the answers.
Use your imagination.
Do some visualization inside your head.
Write down your emotions and conclusions.
Choose several core values, roles, issues.
Edit the material.
Read the final product every day and tweak it to make it sound right for you.
My personal mission statement brought a tremendous amount of value into my life. I can’t guarantee that your mission statement will become the letter describing your destiny.
But I can assure you that you will gain insights into your life you didn’t think about previously. Make your own mission statement and use it every day. It may not bring you to the exact desired destination, but it will allow you to narrow your path, reduce the amount of noise inside your mind and focus on what’s really important for you.