Crafting my own personal mission statement has been one of the best things I’ve ever done. My personal mission statement has saved me much time, money, and frustration in my life.
I think many of us, when we hear the phrase “mission statement”, instantly think of a large organization or business. However, a personal mission statement (as well as a family mission statement) can help us to better manage our lives and our family.
I originally formulated a personal mission statement after reading 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey back in the early 1990s. Over the years, I’ve realized that this book has helped me, more than any other besides the Bible, to really keep my focus on what I value instead of getting pulled in every direction by life. Although it’s clearly written with business people in mind, The 7 Habits are also applicable to pretty much any area of life. By putting into writing what it was I was trying to accomplish, I was able to keep a target in front of me to aim at, even if I missed it quite a bit in the beginning.
How Does a Personal Mission Statement Help You?
By writing a personal mission statement, you are putting down, in writing, what you value most, and what is important to you. You can then use this mission statement to decide more easily what to say “yes” to and what to say “no” to, by judging these opportunities based on what you’ve decided ahead of time.
I do revisit my mission statement every so often, especially from year to year, to reflect our changing lives and family. However, for most decisions, our mission statement helps me to remember what I value most, so I can keep that a priority in my life.
Your Many Hats: Think of Your Roles
The best way to get started on your mission statement is to first think of all of the different hats you wear in your life. What are your different roles?
For example, in my life, I have several different roles:
- Web & Graphic Designer
- Art Teacher
After looking at these roles as you write them down, you may realize that some of them really don’t fit into your life at the moment, and may need to be put on hold. When my children were very young, this list was much shorter to reflect the time priority my children had in my life. Although my children still rank higher than everyone except my husband and God, life has changed a bit and allowed me to add some other roles that had been on the shelf for a while.
In fact, I think when I was younger, I didn’t even put “individual” on my list as a role. This was a mistake. If we don’t refill our tanks, we will have nothing to give others. It’s important to take care of yourself while taking care of young children.
Your Values: What’s Really Important?
Regardless of my many roles, I have one basic value that I want to achieve in every area of my life, and that is to glorify God. That’s my main mission in life, no matter what I’m doing.
Think through what your main mission in life is. You may need to take some time as you think this through. What is the ultimate thing you would want someone to say about you at your funeral? What do you want on your headstone?
In addition to having a main mission statement, summed up in one sentence, I also have a more specific mission statement in each of my roles, based on my main mission statement, and reflection what I want to ultimately accomplish.
It’s not really a goal though, because it’s not a to-do list. I think of these role-based mission statements to be more like an all-encompassing attitude or value as I take care of everything that this role requires of me.
For example, in my role as an individual, I have used this as a governing mission statement:
To have the heart of Jesus towards others, demonstrated in my words, posts, images, how I direct my time and spend money. I will arrange my outside commitments in such a way as to be able to enjoy my family while benefitting them with the fruits of my labors.
Another of my roles, homemaker, has this mission statement:
To have a home that is “real” (not staged) but also a good witness (not filthy).
And under homeowner, which is a new addition to my list of roles, I reflected my desire to maintain my home in such a way so as to not have larger expenses later through not taking care of little things when they come up.
It’s important to think through, as I said, what is important to YOU, and to craft your “ultimate goal” or “ultimate value” for the different roles you fill.
How Is This List Supposed to Help?
If you already know what you value, what is important to you, then you may be wondering how writing out some mission statement would be of much help.
Here’s how I find it helpful.
In life, you may find yourself constantly battling things as they come up, and making split second choices for different crises.
In the day to day living of life, we often get so busy, so weary, so frazzled that we make all kinds of choices without thought of the long term. We think of them in terms of fixing problems right now, instead of how this lines up with your values over the long term.
[Tweet “We make choices to fix problems right now, instead of your values.”]
For example, if I know that one of my missions under the role of homemaker is to take care of the house in such a way, as I am able, so that small problems don’t turn into big problems, I will be more likely to choose to deliberately save towards my annual furnace/ductwork tune up and cleaning instead of spending that extra $5 in my pocket on a Latte. I will remind myself that stacking up extra sod and soil along the back of the house keeps that area from leaking, which could result in a huge disaster in the long term if we ignore it.
Keep Your Mission Statement in Front of You: The Morning Ritual
I find it helps best by keeping my mission statement in front of my own eyes whenever possible. It does me no good to write something like this out and then stick it in a filing cabinet.
My mission statement is hanging in front of my desk, hanging in my closet, hanging on a cupboard door in the kitchen, and printed and laminated in my personal planner.
I make it a point to read it every morning to remind myself, before life comes at me, what I have already decided is important in my life.
When decisions come my way, I can (most of the time) make them based on what I’ve already decided is important, and what I value. I make decisions based on my mission in life in each role.