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.
What Is A 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:
- “Spread Ideas” -TED
- “One for one” -TOMS Shoes
- “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy” -Tesla
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.
How to Write a 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:
- What are my greatest qualities?
- How can I share those qualities with the world?
- What does an ideal world look like?
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:
- I use my cooking skills by sharing nutritious recipes in order to contribute to a world where people are healthy and happy.
- I use my creative problem-solving skills to develop new technologies in order to contribute to a world where everyone has access to education.
- I use my open mind and heart by spending quality time with people in order to contribute to a world where people feel loved and connected.
- I use my creativity and passion by writing articles in order to contribute to a world where people stay insatiably curious.
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:
- Create nutritious recipes for a happy and healthy world.
- Creatively resolve access to education with new technologies.
- Spend time with an open mind and heart to create a world of love and connection.
- Create passionate articles that inspire insatiable curiosity.
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.
How to Use Your Personal Mission Statement
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:
- Stay Focused: When you get distracted and miss a turn or miss a shot, your personal mission statement is there to bring you back on track. It will be there for you as a gentle reminder as you continue on your path to keep your eye on the ultimate goal, especially when things get tough.
- Align Your Decisions: Making decisions can be the catalyst to stress in our lives, especially when it comes to life-changing ones such as your career, home, family, etc. When you are rooted in your mission, decision-making becomes more efficient. Which outcome most aligns with your mission? Which, brings us to the next point…
- Set Boundaries: Quickly say no to anything that does not align with your personal mission. This can include social engagements, family events, projects, food– anything. It’s so easy to get swept away in the moment and feel a false sense of obligation. At first, this may feel selfish, and at times it can be perceived that way— especially if you’re struggling with co-dependence. It’s important to remember that in order for you to be the best service to your mission and loved ones, your cup needs to be filled first.
- Swap FOMO for JOMO: The Fear Of Missing Out gets us all in trouble. When you are on board with your personal mission, you can start celebrating JOMO: the Joy Of Missing Out. No longer is it about “missing something”, it’s about making space for what is most important.
Your Mission Statement Should Change And Evolve
“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!