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.
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.