MISSION STATEMENT MONTH – How to Write a Personal Mission Statement

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This week in Mission Statement Month at Confessions we’re going to talk about how to write a personal mission statement. In the first week of January I shared the phrase, “If you spot it, you got it.”  Last week, I presented what a personal mission statement is and how it can help us. If you missed those episodes, pop on back and read them now.

This week, we’re going to learn how those things you “spotted” can be used to help you build your statement. We’re also going to think about the people you most admire in your life and what specifically you respect and appreciate about them. 

Before we do that though, let’s remind ourselves what we’re not focusing on here: we’re not admiring someone’s possessions, beauty, or specialized skills. We are not trying to change who we are, but rather to become more of who we are meant to be. I might admire my friend for being a dog whisperer, but if I’ve always been terrified of dogs, it’s not fair for me to expect that I’m going to pop a few phrases down on paper and magically become Cesar Millan. This exercise is meant to focus specifically on ourselves and our admiration of other people’s character, personality, and/or disposition. Remember, of course, that if you’re spotting these attributes in others, you’ve got these attributes. Whether those strengths are deep inside you, or right on the surface, writing them out will help bring them to light. And of course, there’s no limit to the amount of traits or number of people you reflect on.

Here are some questions we can ask ourselves:

Who do I know who has an approach or an outlook on life that I admire?
What am I drawn to in that person? What specific qualities of theirs do I appreciate?
Do I admire how they approach their marriage? How they balance their life? Take care of their health? Parent? How ambitious they are?
Moreover, what things does that person prioritize to be the person they are?
Are they healthy? Do the exercise and eat right?
Do they journal, meditate, go to church, participate in a support group?
Do they set healthy boundaries?
Do they make time for travel? Are they open to new experiences when they arise?
Do they make time to celebrate life?

Here are four examples of things I had written down: 

  1. I love how that camp director has a precise schedule but is also open to changing the plan.
  2. I like how my friend takes time to pause before making any decision in her life. She always seems so calm.
  3. I love how some women in my life prioritize physical activity.
  4. While it drives me bat-splits crazy when he does it, my husband seems to be much happier than I am not reacting to the kids’ bickering and fighting. Hmmmm—that man might be onto something INVALUABLE.

Once I have this rough draft list, I can start to create direct statements. And just a note, clarity helps a lot here. We talked last week about how tired and muddled we often are when we’re faced with the choices we have to make on a daily basis. Ambiguity can create even more confusion for the weary decision maker. If the statement is straightforward, it can better provide us with clear answers when we need them most. For example: Instead of writing the phrase, I care about my physical health. You could consider writing, I prioritize my weekly walks to care for my physical health. So when a friend calls you to grab breakfast you can respond with, “I’d love to see you. I can either do lunch, or, if you’re up for taking a walk, I can meet you in the morning at the park.” The other thing to keep in mind is that this isn’t a list of goals. We’ll talk more about the difference between a goal and a mission next week.

Please see how the four reflections above transform into the four unwavering statements below:

(These examples have been taken from my Powerhouse Manifesto.)

A Powerhouse…

  1. Establishes and communicates her needs, desires, and goals clearly, but is open to life’s plan.
  2. Regularly takes quiet time to get a clearer perspective on her life, and makes certain that her time and resources are aligned with the person she wants to be.
  3. Prioritizes time for restorative rest, exercise, and healthy nourishment daily so she can best give back to the world that gives so much to her.
  4. Minds her own business, and steers clear of controversy and chaos.

Once I have my rough statements written down, I often make edits and additions as ideas arise. My statements also change as I grow and change. Next, I use these phrases to inform what I might need to add or subtract from my life to be more of what I like and admire about myself and others. Writing these noteworthy directives down in black and white reminds me that I have the power within myself to strengthen these muscles one decision and one response at a time.

Before I leave you, I’d like to mention something you might want to avoid when creating your statement. Try to steer clear of the use of words like “always” and “never.”  Your mission statement is meant to act as a north star, not a specifically mapped out command. My experience has been that I haven’t always stayed on the fastest road to my goals. There have been hundreds of times when I’ve found myself lost on some unknown trail. But I have surrounded myself with enough people and tools to at least know how to redirect myself if I’ve lost my way. And I’m only going to seek out help when I’m good and ready. The words “always” and “never” add unnecessary pressure that get in the way of a gentle journey.

Ok Team, I hope this is all making sense to you. I remember feeling a little overwhelmed when I first started, but trust me, the process will become easier once you get started. I’ll be back again next week to check in one more time on this topic. I’d really love to share with you why I take the time to write these mission statements and how goals come into play. Until then…

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  1. Love this!!! Can’t wait to start mine!!!

    • Thanks so much for checking in.
      If you have any questions about how to write a personal mission statement that haven’t been answered above, please let me know!

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