If you don’t know where you’re headed, the saying goes, then any road will take you there. And if you’re a laid back type, happy to drift through life picking up experiences and opportunities as they turn up, rather than actively looking out for them, then that might be just fine. But if you have a purpose, a direction, a vocation or an ambition, then you need to get a mission statement for your life if you want to achieve it. There’s a reason big companies pay an extraordinary amount of money to experts to help them write the perfect mission statement. And - without the eye watering consultant fees - you should do the same.
The impact of a mission statement is more than a few words on a piece of paper. The process of coming up with a personal mission statement is valuable in itself, forcing you to think carefully about where you are, where you are going, and what steps you need to take to get there. And once you have a mission statement decided for yourself it becomes a powerful point of reference, guiding the personal and professional decisions you make.
Here’s why you need a mission statement in your life.
1. You Will Figure Out Your Direction
The first reason why you need to get a mission statement in your life is because of the thinking process you’ll need to go through to arrive there. Coming up with a personal mission statement forces you to question what is really important in your life, assess your personal values, your ambitions and direction in life.
Creating the perfect mission statement for you is an iterative process, and whatever you come up with might change and evolve over time as your priorities shift. Collecting your thoughts and ideas, reflecting and looking back over your experiences and how they lead you to where you are today, is a useful exercise. Aim to produce something which clearly and vividly describes what you want to achieve in your life, personally and professionally, as well as referencing the ’how’ you will deliver this.
If you don’t know where you are headed then you’re reliant on luck, fate and the good will of others. If you’re more inclined to take control of your destiny then get working on a mission statement today. Check out the ideas here about how to go about it.
2. It Can Help You Move Forward
A mission statement is as important for your life as it is for a corporation, and just as the giants of the business world like to shout their mission from the rooftops, articulating your mission statement frequently (and to the right people) might be the way to make sure you move forward.
You may well be asked to describe your mission statement at an interview, for example, as companies look to work with people whose personal values align with the culture of the business. It’s not a question you can answer ’on the fly’. If you don’t know where you are going and who you want to become during the course of your life, then an interview is not the ideal place to figure that out!
But your mission statement can help you talk confidently about yourself and your ambitions outside of these high pressure interview-type environments. Any personal development conversations you have with your boss or HR department, should include reference to your personal mission statement so you can explain where you are headed in life, and take the opportunity to ask for help along the way.
In short, your mission statement can be your ’get out of jail’ card in a number of situations. It’ll help you when you’re asked in the typical ’elevator’ conversation, to talk about what you’re about. It’s a crutch when you have a brief opportunity to make an impact on the boss, or in a formal interview situation. But it can also be an ideal way to lead a conversation with the influential decision makers in your career, and make sure that everyone who matters knows who you are and where you’re going in work and life.
3. It Can Help Guide Your Decisions
A mission statement is for life, not just for interviews.
A mission statement is about who you want to become, as well as what you want to achieve. It is therefore about both what you do, and how you do it, and it should be something that is a constant guide.
One of the best things about a good mission statement is that it can help guide your day to day decisions. If your statement is right for you, then you will internalise it, think about it on a regular basis when you are weighing up options and choices, and regularly measure your progress against the end point you have described for yourself.
To make your mission statement more a part of your everyday life, you can stick a copy of it in places you (and only you) will see it regularly, such as the bathroom mirror, the back of the car sun visor, or inside the kitchen cupboard. Once you are used to referring back to your mission statement you will find it easier to make the decisions that take you down the right path.
4. You Can Use It For Motivation
Finally, you need a mission statement in your life because it can be a great reminder of where you have been, and where you are going - a place to turn when your motivation is lagging and you are questioning whether or not it is worth pursuing your chosen path. This is especially so if you are reaching for something new or trying to achieve something specific and outside of your comfort zone.
The fact is, that there is a lot in life that is necessary but which does not make an immediate and measurable difference to you achieving your dreams. Outside these mundane tasks there are also the more dangerous distractions that can stop you from moving forward. A personal mission statement can be the way you measure your progress and check you’re still on track, and a helping hand to pick you back up again when you’re feeling flat.
Having a personal mission statement is essential for anyone with ambition. And not just in a professional sense. You don’t have to be shooting for corporate CEO for this to matter. If you have an ambition to work in a specific industry, start your own business, or even to achieve a personal goal such as travelling, retiring early or achieving the ever elusive work life balance, a mission statement can help you.
Indeed, even the people who have already achieved a high flying role such as CEO, with all the bells and whistles that brings, still have a personal mission statement to guide them. Or maybe, of course, it is by virtue of the fact that they had this mission statement in the first place, that they achieved the heady professional heights they did. Who knows. But it’s probably worth a try, to come up with a personal mission statement of your own and see where it takes you.