Many people will measure us by our accomplishments. Right or wrong, we are often assessed by what we have done. In my experience, most people compile their track record of accomplishments BY MISTAKE. Let’s talk about why that is and how a mission statement can help you.
Failing to plan is planning to fail…
What do I mean by this? We often don’t have a plan, we simply react to opportunities that present themselves. To put it another way, our accomplishments are externally motivated but are not internally driven.
While this method does seem to get the job done, having a consciousness of mission - what each of our lives is really about - will make getting those goals accomplished more meaningful. One thing that will help with this is creating your personal mission statement.
A personal mission statement as an organizational tool
A personal mission statement will help you organize your entire life - your time, your thoughts, your priorities. A personal mission statement, conscientiously developed, can change the way you view everything in your life.
How does it do this? A personal mission statement will force you to constantly reevaluate who you are, what you’re about, and what you’re doing. For example, take a look at the Constitution of the United States. The essential mission statement there is “...to create a more perfect Union.” Where would we be as a nation today if they had not outlined the goals and hopes of a new nation in those terms?
How do you write a mission statement
First, make it short and to the point.
Nelson Mandela’s mission statement, developed over his 27 years in prison in South Africa, says just this: “End Apartheid.” Another great mission statement was developed by Abraham Lincoln upon his inauguration as President of the United States. “Preserve the Union.”
It’s important to note that mission statements can and will change. Perhaps you accomplish your mission. Franklin Roosevelt started his presidency with a mission to “End the Depression.” By the time that was almost done, another threat had arisen and the United States had become involved in World War II. The mission statement then changed to “End the War.”
Second, use direct language
You want your mission statement to be short, to the point, simple. Using direct language will help with this. As a guideline, if a 12-year old can understand the statement, you’ll be more or less on track. Less is more for this task.
Third, make it memorable
Making your mission statement memorable will help to burn it into your consciousness. The rule of thumb here is that if you can’t recite it from memory, it’s too long and complicated. If you have a mission statement that you cannot recite from memory, simply condense it. “Laser” your thought process until you have said everything you need to say in the fewest and strongest words possible. That said, it needs to make sense. I’m having flashes of Kevin from The Office when he was trying to condense his speech to save time. “They see. They all see!”
Fourth, eliminate excuses
Before you can write an effective mission statement, you must clear away the excuses that prevent most people from writing one in the first place. A common mistake people make is thinking that their job is their mission. That may be part of it, or not. Your mission is larger than your job. Your job may change, but your mission may not. There are times that your job MUST change in order for your mission statement to be fulfilled. Be sure not to lock yourself into a box that says that you ARE your work. You are far more than the job that you do.
Another trap excuse is “My role is my mission”. If you’re a man, you may think of your role as “breadwinner”. If you’re a woman, you may define your role as “wife” or “mother”. The operating principle here is that your role may change. In fact, as your life evolves, your role will almost certainly change. You may have been the “breadwinner”, but now you are home with the children and your wife is “bringing home the bacon”. Perhaps you get divorced and now you’re in the role of the single parent instead of husband or wife. Maybe you win the lottery and now no one has to work. Throughout your life, as you have grown, the roles will change.
Yet another common excuse is the one most of us don’t want to cop to - that we may believe that we're just not important enough to have a mission statement. Sure, it’s fine for a big company to have one, or for a country to have one, but I’m just one of the “little people” so I don’t DESERVE one. Parenthetically, we almost never say this aloud. What we DO say, at least to ourselves, is that we don’t NEED one. This is just wrong. Get rid of that negative thinking. You are just as deserving as a big company of having success in your life. You DESERVE to be successful and to do everything you can to make that happen.
Lastly, remove bad influences
To move forward, you need to clear out the influences that have driven you in the past. A mission statement isn’t about what you think you should be doing. It’s about what EXCITES you! So instead of listening to all those voices from the past, the ones that told you you weren’t worthy of success, that you won’t succeed, and so forth, concentrate on your dreams. Work to make them a reality. Do what you need to do to become the best version of yourself.
Make your mission statement count
You now have the tools to create your mission statement. Make it short and sweet. Make it powerful. Make it meaningful. Make it easy to remember. So what do you do with it now that you have it? If you have a vision board (and you should if you don’t 🙂 put it on that. Put it on a post-it on your mirror to remind yourself as you get ready for the day. Use it as a mantra. Make your mission statement a part of your daily routine. The more you have it rolling through your head, the more likely you are to achieve it.
If you are stuck on coming up with your mission statement, check this out for some idea.
Once you have created your mission statement, it's time to set your goals! Check out this post for some tips on goal-setting.
Post your mission statement in the comments to share it with the world. Can’t wait to see them!