How to Write a Mission Statement (and Why I Bothered)

I had considered learning how to write a mission statement for years.

Or at least, I’d come across the idea of a mission statement in numerous self help books and productivity seminars and thought, “yeah, that sounds like a good idea, I guess.” But mostly I’d left it in the realm of ‘stuff that sounds good in theory but was probably useless in day-to-day life’, like writing down your goals or going through those stupid exercises on the quitting smoking web site.

Of course, I eventually did start writing down my goals and doing those stupid exercises on the quitting smoking web site. And it worked.

I suppose that’s why I finally decided to give the old mission statement thing a try.

How to Write a Mission Statement (or, how I did it)

I started by doing this exercise from the Liberated Life Project:

Look at the list of verbs below. As you look at each word, say it aloud and allow a full minute to absorb how much you resonate with that particular quality. Then write a number next to that word, using a rating scale of 1 to 5. If you feel nothing at all about the word, give it a 1. If you’re ready to jump out of your chair because you feel so in tune with that quality, give it a 5.

  • Bridging
  • Brightening
  • Communicating
  • Connecting
  • Creating
  • Discovering
  • Embracing
  • Encouraging
  • Giving
  • Healing
  • Integrating
  • Leading
  • Learning
  • Loving
  • Organizing
  • Relating
  • Remembering
  • Restoring
  • Teaching

And you may find there are some powerful verbs not included on this list that you want to add. Go for it!

Now look at your numbers – every word that you’ve rated with a 4 or 5 should make it into your mission statement.

This gave me a few words to start with, but not enough to write an entire mission statement. It gave me a hint, however, of what was to come.

Next I went to the Franklin Covey website and used their Mission Statement Builder.

Essentially, I answered a bunch of questions that helped clarify for me what my goals and key values are. After filling out the online questionnaire, a poorly worded mission statement is generated. I didn’t claim it as my own, but I did read it over and look for patterns. I noticed similarities between these results and the words that had resonated with me in the first exercise. There were words and themes that kept popping up.

I put it aside.

That step was huge for me. That step wasn’t listed in any of the books, although I had read that figuring out how to write a mission statement could take time. I am generally not great at taking time, at doing nothing, but I’m working on it.

I came back a few nights later and pulled up the words and sentences that had been cobbled together from the two exercises. I thought about the end of my life, my deathbed, and my inevitable funeral and eulogies. I considered both how I wanted to be remembered and what memories I would likely hold dearest. I began to write.

I put it aside again.

I came back again after a couple more days had passed, and I made some edits. I deleted the superfluous and anything that didn’t really resonate with me. I considered my most important roles and ignored anything that I wasn’t certain was critical to me at this point in my life.

I was left with this mission statement:

**********

My mission is to know and love myself, my neighbor, and my world and to encourage and inspire others to know and love themselves.

I am at my best when I am healthy, exploring, learning, inspiring, and connecting. I am proactive about incorporating each of these elements into my life, for I am responsible for being happy, confident, and successful.

I find opportunities to use my natural talents of communicating, both listening and sharing.

I travel the world and inspire people to identify and embrace what matters most in their lives, and encourage them to reach further.

I am guided and identified by the principles of courage, integrity, kindness, and acceptance.

I give my husband and children the courage and faith to live their dreams as well as my unconditional love.

I have faith in destiny and bravely take the path that unfolds before me.

**********

It is not witty or extraordinarily eloquent, and I’m certain it will evolve over the years as I do. It is deeply personal, and I kind of feel like I’ve just shared with you a video of me doing the ugly cry or something equally revealing. Yikes.

I still think the whole thing sounds a little silly, but this mission statement has already served its purpose by being a guide I could consult in confusing times. When we were trying to figure out our next best step–and specifically where we were going to live–I reread these words. I focused on the key principles that I’d put in bold text. I remembered how important courage was to me and I knew exactly what the most right decision was.

If you feel a bit like you may be wandering or like you could use a good compass in your life, I encourage you to try writing a mission statement. It may feel awkward at first and it will probably take more than one try, but I believe it is one of those wacky self help tools that actually does make a difference in real life.

Of course, if you’ve already written one (or tried (or vowed never to try)), I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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  1. Love this idea. I’ve been wanting to do this for some time now so this has arrived at the right time for me. Thanks so much for sharing how to do it.

    • Miss Britt says:

      I’m glad you liked it! I’d love to see what you come up with; I bet it will be amazing. :-)

  2. Nanna says:

    I love that you give practical tips – I never knew those were available!! In the past when I have tried to write a Mission Statement, I just ended up with some dumb fancy words.

    This is good, Britt. Really good.
    Nanna’s most recent post: Suicide – It Touches Us All

    • Miss Britt says:

      Thanks, Mom. I tried to cut down on the dumb, fancy words as much as possible. :)

  3. Megan says:

    Hmm. I have no idea what I’d use a mission statement for, but I suppose I’ll never know if I don’t try it, right?
    Megan’s most recent post: Swimming Pools

  4. Sarah says:

    What a great post – so practical but so aspirational at the same time! You’ve got me started with a new project.

  5. This is great, Britt! I’m glad you took the process one step further, beyond my exercise and that funny Franklin Covey computer-generated statement.

    I think that a true personal mission statement, as in one that is deeply authentic to each of us, does need some time to steep. And it benefits from ‘a-ha’ moments. A formula can only take it so far… What you came up with is beautiful!

  6. I can’t say I am a huge fan of mission statements but I believe in being goal oriented. I want to write children’s stories that make kids happy and I want to write about my experiences with depression and anxiety to help remove the stigma of these deceases. But first and foremost I want to raise my kids to me happy loving people.
    Corey Feldman’s most recent post: Third update re: recent downturn with depression and anxiety

  7. Shelly Immel says:

    Good stuff, Britt! Your statement is beautiful. I relate very much to your experience of working on it and putting it aside and coming back to it. Gaining clarity is so often a peeling the onion kind of process. Focus is both a huge challenge and a huge opportunity in our lives today. Distilling and recording the clearest picture we have of our purpose is so valuable – so we can look at it later when we need to make decisions, recapture our fire, remember who we are. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Liz says:

    I really like the idea of writing a mission statement. I think it would really help me in achieving my ultimate goal of seeing one of my books on the shelves of Barnes and Noble. I’ve been doing the whole self-publishing thing for a few months now and have occasionally felt discouraged and scared. I want something that, like you said, I can look at and reread to get me back on track.

    I wrote a mission statement for my Letters of Love project back in the day, but wouldn’t have had any idea where to start on one for myself if it weren’t for your tips, so thank you. I’m definitely bookmarking this!
    Liz’s most recent post: My (Bad) Writing Habits

  9. Haley says:

    Thank you for this post. I was inspired when I first read it, and it’s been simmering in the back of my mind for a few days. Today was really tough, and I was feeling quite depressed. Then this post came to mind. I printed it, and did the exercises to start my own mission statement. It’s not finished yet, but I have a solid start, and I feel better.
    Thank you for this and your other inspiring posts. I’ve been following your blog for some time and I appreciate the work you do.

  10. martymankins says:

    I’ve never considered a mission statement all that important. Mine were always called mantras, or phrases and quotes that inspired me at various times in my life. The mantras changed throughout my life, depending on my state of how productive I was and what I wanted to accomplish.

    I like your mission statement as it defines who you are and where you are in life at this time.
    martymankins’s most recent post: Music Monday: Grouplove Live

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