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Why You Need a Personal Mission Statement if You’re Serious About Achieving Your Goals

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“Embrace the Human Spirit and Let it Fly” at first glance seems like a New Age quote from a poster hanging in a yoga studio somewhere. While it would certainly make for a trendy t-shirt slogan, it is the company mission statement from Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Atlantic.

One of the first things any entrepreneur with a big idea and lofty goals creates is their company’s mission statement. In many business curriculums, coming up with a mission statement is seen as an integral part of honing what the general purpose of a particular business is as well as figuring out the target customer. You would be hard pressed to find a single Fortune 500 company without a company mission statement, yet as individuals we are often plodding through life without a similar vision to guide our actions.

Developing a personal mission statement is an integral part of building the foundation for a successful life. In an increasingly connected world moving at breakneck speed, it can be disorienting to try and discern which opportunities will likely yield the highest payout towards your professional and personal success.

As deep work becomes more valued as a top skill, few of us can continue to multitask and expect to succeed. With a mission statement firmly in place, you view the world through a particular lens, using it as a barometer of what you should be focusing on and when it might be best to shift gears towards more fruitful projects or tasks.

If you have never crafted a mission statement, it can be daunting to try and come up with one, especially if you’re not used to introspection. Fortunately, there are some easy steps you can take which will reduce the stress of creating a mission statement and set you on a path towards achieving your goals.

1. Take notice of your values

A value-driven personal mission statement is going to generate the most benefit because it will be in harmony with your core beliefs and serve the mission aspect. Ask yourself how you would like to be remembered or what you hope friend’s family and colleagues would say about you if asked by a stranger.

Write down anything in a notebook or on a file which you feel defines who you are and is important. Take your time in this information gathering process as there isn’t a special prize for creating a mission statement in five minutes. A mission statement should strongly reflect your inner values and core beliefs, even if that takes days or weeks to come up with.

“To succeed in your mission, you must have single-minded devotion to your goal.” – A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

2. Solicit feedback from family and trusted friends

If you feel comfortable sharing with people who are close to you that you’re working on developing a personal mission statement, then they can be an invaluable resource. If you have a tendency to be self-critical, friends and family can provide a much needed source of inspiration as they know you best.

Friends and family can also remind you of situations where you felt particularly accomplished and proud because what is important to them is also likely to be important to you in crafting your mission statement.

3. Bring it all together in actual written form

While the mission statement is a personal motto, actually creating a final product and displaying it in a visible place is an integral part of the process. Crafting a personal mission statement and then shoving your creation in a file drawer or leaving it stranded in a file somewhere on your computer is not going to help you move closer to your goals.

Take a cue from the world’s most successful companies who proudly display their mission statements as soon as you enter their building or feature them prominently on their websites and other materials. My own mission statement hangs prominently in my desk at work and is the very first page of my personal journal.

“A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Finally, keep in mind that a personal mission statement doesn’t have to be clever or a particular length to be effective. It is your own compass, written in your unique voice to help steer you toward the activities which are going to create the most meaning in your life and align you closer with your goals.

Whether short and sweet or a full page of affirmations, a personal mission statement puts you one step ahead along the greats such as Richard Branson’s and Mark Zuckerberg.

Do you have a mission statement for your life? Share it with us in the comments below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

Monica Lannom is a PHD candidate in Biology.  When she is not doing research or chasing after her dogs she writes about careers, productivity and balanced living on her website www.fullerlifemakeover.com. Follow her on Twitter @life_fuller.

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