Personal Mission Statement: What It Is and How to Write One

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You’re likely familiar with the term mission statement from the corporate environment.

And, frankly, the corporate world hasn’t given mission statements a great reputation.

These days, the general perception of a mission statement is that’s it’s jargon used in company kickoffs that doesn’t actually drive behavior.

And while that may be true, I actually find the process of creating a personal mission statement to be very valuable. 

Once you have a sense of what’s important to you and the direction you want to go in life, a personal mission statement can be a powerful tool to consolidate all of that into a concise statement that guides action in your life.

Throughout this post, I’m going to define what a personal mission statement is, how to write one, how to use it, and share some good examples of effective mission statements. Let’s dive in!

What is a Personal Mission Statement?

A personal mission statement is a concise statement of who you want to be and the life you want to live.

The idea was first popularized by Stephen Covey in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. From Stephen’s perspective, when you’re guided by a good, concise, and easily memorable personal mission statement, then you’re able to approach life with a higher degree of intentionality.

When you’re facing major or minor decisions, you’re able to filter them through the lens of your mission statement, which makes it easier to know what opportunities to take, and which to say no to if they don’t fit who you want to be and how you want to live.

How to Write a Personal Mission Statement

My personal favorite way to write a personal mission statement is to start by completing a value sort exercise, and then writing a short future biography

I find each of those exercises to be incredibly helpful in defining what’s important to you, as well as the long-term life that you want to build. Detailed instructions for how to complete those exercises are linked in the previous paragraph.

If you don’t have time to complete both, then I definitely recommend at a minimum completing a values exercise to intentionally define what’s important to you in life.

From that place of having defined your values, take those and try to turn it into a short statement that includes the following elements:

  • How you want to live
  • What you want to give

Try to keep it around 50 words and no more than 2 – 3 sentences.

Examples of Good Personal Mission Statements

To help make it more concrete, here are some examples of good personal mission statements:

“To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be.”
–Oprah Winfrey

“I shall not fear anyone on Earth. I shall fear only God. I shall not bear ill will toward anyone. I shall not submit to injustice from anyone. I shall conquer untruth by truth. And in resisting untruth, I shall put up with all suffering.”
–Mahatma Gandhi

“Not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”
–Maya Angelou

“To be a loving and engaged husband and father that enables and teaches our children to live well. To embody Christ in the way that I live and engage with others. To do work that I enjoy, that I am good at, that the world needs, and that generates enough income to provide a safe and comfortable life for my family.”

-Dan Slocum

How to Use a Personal Mission Statement

Once you have your personal mission statement, I suggest placing it somewhere prominent that you can see it and refer to it easily.

For me, I have mine at the top of a spreadsheet that I use for managing my to-do list that I check every day.

Try to memorize it, and then use it as a filter for the decisions you make and the actions you take.

Conclusion

I hope this brief write-up about personal mission statements has been helpful and inspiring.

I find personal mission statements to be wonderful tools for consolidating how you want to live and what you want to do, and a great reference point for guiding action.

Good luck in writing your own personal mission statement!

About the author

Dan Slocum

Dan is the founder of Best Fit Work and a marketer and business professional with over 10 years of experience. Dan writes to share content, tools, and resources to help people discover and thrive in their own best fit work.

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