A mission statement is made up of goals that you want to achieve, what you will do to achieve them and/or personal beliefs you think will help you achieve them. These goals should be personally important to you.
Writing a mission statement will help you fulfil Covey’s second habit “Beginning with the End in Mind”, as you are thinking about things you want to achieve in the future.
Building a personal mission statement is really useful because it helps you stay focused. Mission statements help you pinpoint the most important things.
Think of it as a very simple, straightforward map – one that is much easier to read than a map full of winding roads and unclear labels.
Many successful CEOs (chief executive officers) have come up with personal mission statements to determine how exactly they want to make an impact.
They can be short and succinct; Sir Richard Branson’s (founder of Virgin Group) reads:
“To have fun in [my] journey through life and learn from [my] mistakes.”
With these steps, you can write your own too:
1. What are your previous successes?
First you want to identify things you have succeeded in the past. This could be from getting really good marks at school or learning how to ride a bike.
Think about how you were able to achieve these goals. Were there any patterns, like working towards the goal regularly (studying or practising every day)? These are things you might want to apply when reaching your newly-set goals. It should be something that works well for you.
2. What are your values?
These are principles or attributes you strongly believe in. You usually strongly prioritise your values over other aspects in your life.
If you value the importance of school, you might sacrifice going out with your friends in order to stay home and study. If you value being hardworking or compassionate, then your goals should align with these attributes (e.g. studying every day for three hours, or helping senior citizens).
Deciding what your values are will help you set goals that support these values.
3. What do you want to contribute, and to whom?
Oprah Winfrey, famous talk show host, lists, as her mission statement:
“To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be.”
Winfrey’s initial success came from her emergence as a talk show host and TV producer. However, she decided that she wanted to be successful by contributing more than what she was already offering. Winfrey’s goals?
She wants to instill learning and self-belief in her ‘students’ – everyone who looks up to her and feels inspired by her words. In this way, her mission statement contributes towards the learning of those who consider themselves followers of Winfrey’s teachings.
4. What are your goals?
Now you can start thinking about what it is you want to be, or do. These can be short- or long-term goals. Advisably, the short-term goals should help you achieve your long-term goals.
Do you want to be a leader? If this is your long-term goal, think about short-term goals that might help you get there. This could be running for student council, or taking on a leadership position at a camp or an activity.
5. Write your mission statement!
You’re ready to write your mission statement now! You can work with a friend, a group for a certain project, a family, a class, or by yourself.
List everything from the previous steps down to guide you if you wish. Your mission statement should not be more than a few lines. It’s all about being direct!