Make Your Statement
Many of us meander through life wondering if we can do more, be more and what we can do to leave our mark. We question our place in this hectic world of corporations and consumerism. We seek ways to refine and redefine our true selves. I know I do. I go through phases where I wonder if the path I live makes me happy. If the company I work for helps me to become the person I want to be tomorrow. If the answers of who I am and whether my creative projects align with the mark I desire to leave upon this world. My personal "I was HERE" stamp. My life consists deeply of weaving my career, home and spiritual path into a cohesive whole. Creating a personal mission statement can help ensure who you are and what you do continues to blend harmoniously together.
Personal mission statements reflect an individual's sense of purpose and meaning in life. It defines who you are, what you want to focus on, and how you can mold yourself over time. It's a tool that can help focus your energy, actions and decisions towards the things you think are most important. Your mission statement should touch upon what you want to focus on and who you want to become as a person in this part of your life. It can become a road map to achieving your goals and dreams.
There are two things to remember before you can work on making a statement that speaks the truth of your purpose in life. First, there is no one single formula for creating a personal mission statement. I've read a lot on the subject and what works for one person may or may not work for you. You're welcome to try out my methods and tips and see what works for you. Be honest with yourself. This is your life we're talking about and you're the only one who can write your own path.
Secondly, it takes time to develop and perfect a mission statement. You'll write a lot. If you're not sure you enjoy writing, I suggest you skip this section and move onto the part about creating a personal mission collage. You'll also be evaluating and examining yourself. I know that I started my mission statement a few years ago and I'm still uncovering and working on it. Your first stab at a mission statement may take up 5 pages in your planner but gets the job done and even outlines how you want to accomplish those missions. Or it may be as short as 2-3 sentences. It all depends on who you are and how much you want to accomplish in life. Each person is unique and it takes time to create a truly unique statement, just as it took time for you to become who you are today. Okay, enough of the disclaimers, let's get down to making a statement.
Writing your personal mission statement
I recommend you plan for some alone time when you decide to work on your mission statement. Turn off your cell phone, unplug your internet access and go some place where family and friends won't distract you. Better yet, go to a coffeehouse or a bookstore with your planner and spend some quality time with yourself. Solitude helps you get in touch with your soul and the things that matter most to you. Interruptions distract us from uncovering the truth of what matters to us most and what we really want out of life.
Step 1: Define your values.
Values, like our DNA, make us unique. They determine what we like, where we live, what our passions are and can even determine the decisions we make. That's why the first step of the process makes you take a look at your core values. List all the values and attributes you think help to define who you are and what's important to you. If you get stuck, then you can call friends or surf the internet for ideas. Your list can long or short. Once you have this list, try and create a top 5 or a top 3 list. Then weed this list down to your number one value... that one thing that you'd give your life for. This is the most important thing to you. In my case, it's creativity. And everything I do in my life has to follow that value.
Here's a short list of values you can include in your list:
Respect to others
Step 2: Identify goals and contributions.
Now it's time to set some goals, since you've found those qualities of what separate you from others. What will your legacy to the world and people close to you be? Grab a sheet of paper and start listing all the activities you'd like to accomplish in your life. Write down anything and everything you can think of that you want to do in life.
Your mission statement can contain two types of goals, short-term or long-term. The short-term goals relate to 1-5 year tasks or activities that you want to accomplish in your life. If you have a goal of writing one article for your favorite magazine, write that down. You'll want to capture this in your mission statement. Long-term goals go beyond 5 years and can extend throughout your life. Raising children or starting your own company may be long term goals. Defining contributions helps you understand what you like to do and what adventures your life may lead. They give your mission statement direction and guide you towards leaving your legacy.
Step 3. Write.
Take your list of values and your list of goals and contributions and a clean sheet of paper and begin with the words "My purpose in life is to..." and then start writing out statements that represent your values and goals. That's all there is to it. The hardest part of writing a mission statement is the act of sitting down and putting pen to page. Your mission statement could look like this:
My life's purpose is to create and share my visions and dreams with the world through writing and art. I am a creative spirit who loves to write and create new worlds. I am a dreamer. Someone who dares to think differently and to use multiple perceptions to help and guide others. I am majickal. I see beyond what is here and now and look inwards to the energy that connects me to others and the universe. I seek knowledge, through my friends, tarot and Nature. They help me become what I want to be and all I want to achieve. I live in harmony and in balance with myself and in my home and surroundings. I am timeless. I feel young and playful; able to dance the night away. I feel old and wise; I apply all I have learned to help benefit my society and change the world around me into something I am proud of. I am ME. There will never be someone like me again.
You may want to keep the following tips in mind while you write:
Be clear and concise. Write concrete sentences. Clearly define your objectives. Many coaches say to keep your statement between 3-5 sentences. I say make it as long or short as it takes to get your mission out. I've seen personal mission statements that last pages, while others were only a statement or two.
Write positively. Focus on the good things you do and the person you want to be. Many times we get bogged down on what we don't do or cannot do when we should be focusing on celebrating our strengths and selves more.
Make it usable. I tend to have very lofty and sometimes irrational and unachievable goals. While lofty goals look great on paper, having goals and dreams that are unachievable may also make you unhappy and unfulfilled. The best mission statements are the ones you can use in your day to day lives. Allow it to speak your truth and help guide you into making the right decisions for your life.
Include the whole picture. We all have many different hats and masks to wear. You are a combination of your family, career and hobbies. All of these work together with your values and goals to define you as a whole. Your mission statement should also contain as many aspects of your life as it can. Include things that not only help guide your career but also your home and spiritual lives. Make sure each area of your life works in sync with one another and not against your core values.
Show your passions. Use your language, your writing style and your words. Don't try to copy off of others or do what they want to do. The more your statement reflects the true you, the more inspiring and empowering it becomes.
Writing a mission statement involves answering questions about yourself. These two links contain lots of good questions to help you define a complete picture of yourself. Use them if you feel stuck or aren't sure of what you want your legacy to be:
http://www.quintcareers.com/mission_statement_exercises.html This page gives a few good starter questions on uncovering your lifestyle and what your core values are.
http://www.quintcareers.com/mission_statement_development.html This page goes even deeper to give you a more rounded picture of who you are, what motivates and drives your passions.
Crafting a Personal Mission Collage
If you're more of a visual person than a writer, you can create a personal mission collage. There's no reason why you cannot draw, paint or collage your mission, legacy and goals onto a poster. A collage can even become a companion to your written statement. The process of putting one of these together may even be easier to craft than writing your statement. You don't need much to create one of these either. Grab a posterboard, grab some paints or crayons and drag out all those old magazines. Paint, color or glue images that represent you and your mission statement onto the posterboard. When you're done, put the collage in a frame and place it somewhere that you can look at it often and allow it to inspire you. When you're finished, you'll have both a visual representation of your mission statement as well as a meaningful and unique piece of artwork to hang in your house.
Your mission statement is like the outline to a novel you have yet to write. It helps guide you through each scene of your life. Not only does it give your life meaning and focus, but it helps to clarify what you think is important. It may take awhile to create a permanent mission statement. When you have a good working draft, post it some place where you can view it. Or attempt to memorize it and commit it to your life. Live your statement and become it. By living our mission statement, and being truly committed to its meaning, we are more likely to choose behavior that serves our values and reject behavior that opposes them.
Remember that your mission statement is not cast in stone. It is a living document that will grow and expand or shorten as you age. The more you learn about yourself and what you want to do at various stages in your life, the more your statement can help you attain those things. Periodic review of your statement is key to making sure you're on the right track. Some people visit their statements every year on their birthday and revise them, taking out what is no longer in alignment with their core values and adding in what they have learned over the year.