Imagine your own personal Google Map directing you through your life. This map acts as a voice of support guiding you when to turn, warning you to avoid a trap, and course-correcting when you miss the sign back there. It is always beautifully annotating the story of your life in any voice that inspires you-- not just Siri.
This is a voice that continues to remind you of what path you should be on, always orienting you towards the destination. It's a voice that may pause for a moment when you get distracted and fall off track. However, it's also a voice that comes back with a new shortcut to return to the road of your destiny.
That voice is your personal mission statement.
Put simply, a mission statement is a formal summary of the aims and values of a company, organization, or individual. For example, you may be familiar with some of these brand taglines:
These statements are stark, still, mammoths that invite us to join the hunting party and steady our bow for a shot at the beast of changing the world. While the target may move a little, the mammoth is large enough to compensate for a rogue arrow here and there. So, too, should be your personal mission statement.
The first step in defining your personal mission statement is to dive into your personal “why”. Finding your own mammoth may seem like a fantastical task; how could I possibly stop global warming, end bigotry, or feed all of the starving children?
About a year ago, I was in a yoga teacher training (shout out to YogaBuzz!) class and our instructors lead us through a thought experiment that helped to get us into the belly of the beast. This was one of the clearest ways I have experienced moving through such a large thought experiment, and hopefully, you will too.
Grab a pen, paper, and a timer. For each question below, set a timer for three minutes. Once your three minutes are up, move on to the next question. As you answer these questions, allow whatever is on your heart to come out. Read: Do not overthink this.
Answer the following questions, without judgment:
Once you have your answers to these questions recorded, use them to fill in the blanks here, Mad Libs-style: "I, [name], use my [greatest qualities] by [how you share these qualities with the world] in order to contribute to a world where [description of an ideal world]."
This statement may be edited a couple of times to get to one that you feel fully on board with. Here are some examples of how this statement may sound:
Write your personal mission statement down somewhere that you can see it and read it every day for one week. Make note of any changes you would like to make to the statement in your journal. At the end of the week, edit the statement down to a concise phrase. The final statement should be something you can easily remember and recite, like the lyrics to your favorite song. Below shows examples of what your mission statement could look like.
My mission statement is to:
Take your newly minted personal mission statement and put it on display on your mirror, vision board, or as a daily reminder on your phone.
Allow this statement to be the Google Maps navigator to your inner explorer, or the still mammoth to your inner warrior. Being clear on your mission keeps things in perspective so that you can focus on what truly matters most to you. Here are four ways that you can use your personal mission statement in your daily life:
“Change is the only constant in life” -Heraclitus
While we’ve spent most of our time here talking about staying grounded by our still mammoths or mission statements, it’s important to remember that it will change and evolve. Sometimes this happens slightly, and other life events and experiences may affect it drastically. Changing your mission doesn’t mean you have failed— it means you are slaying the beast and moving to the next target or maybe changing destinations along your journey. Make room for that, and remember that you can come back to this exercise as many times as you want to re-envision your personal mission. You could even set specific times of the month (for example, during the New Moon) or year to come back to it and check-in to see how it still resonates with you. After a while, you may find that your mission had changed completely! (Looking at you motherhood, career changes, and loss.) If you are following your path, chances are you will gain new tools, insights, and connections that will transform you and in turn, your personal mission.
Good luck, Explorers and Warriors! Journey on and slay that beast!