Companies use mission statements to outline their goals and purpose (“We do X”). It helps stakeholders know what to expect, and in times of confusion or turmoil, the company’s executives can use the mission statement as a guiding point to get back on track. As such, a mission statement is a key factor in every business plan.
In our personal lives, we bolster one another along with inspirational messages. We’re encouraged to set goals, be organized, live life to the fullest, tap into our creativity, be in the now, make every day special, use the good china, save for tomorrow, give generously today, focus on family, say no more often, say yes more often, remember our history, let go of the past… the messages can get a little confusing. All of these things sound good, all have merit, but how do you choose? How do you know what’s right for you?
A personal mission statement (sometimes called a leadership statement,) helps you focus on your purpose, and clarify your drive. You can develop your personal mission statement in much the same way that executives build one for their company: by focusing outward, on your audience and their needs.
A solid mission statement is built by understanding and committing to your stakeholders. Ask yourself these questions:
- Who are your stakeholders? They may include co-workers and subordinates, clients, family, friends, and associates.
- What do your stakeholders need from you? Leadership is about serving others, so focus on the expectations of those you serve. What value can you create for them?
- What personal characteristics do you wish to be known for? Include those characteristics that come naturally to you (your strengths), as well as those you want to develop and improve upon.
Once you have the answers to those questions, it’s easy to put them into the following personal mission statement template:
“My personal mission is to be [insert personal characteristics] so that I can deliver [insert value to stakeholders] to [insert stakeholders]”.
For example, my personal mission statement is “To be kind, compassionate, respectful, and creative so that I can teach my daughter by example to be the same, and so that I can positively impact family, friends, and professional contacts”.
Just as companies should make it a point to revisit their business plan, and correspondingly their mission statement, every year, so should you revisit your personal mission statement. As you and your audience evolve, your mission statement may change. That’s okay – what’s important is that you have a guiding point to help you stay on track, and ensure that you’re continuously delivering maximum value to your audience.