One thing I never thought I would do is write a personal mission statement – whether because I thought it was too cheesy or maybe just too hard. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around one sentence that described my entire life, without it being completely symbolic and mostly useless. Do you feel that same way about them?
Even when I was reading 7 Habits of Highly Effective People* and was absolutely loving it, I still started skimming once I got to Steven Covey’s challenge to write a mission statement. Sure, it makes sense to create first in your mind what you want to see in your life – but who actually sits down to do that?!
Well… me. I became that person who sits down and does that. 🙂 And what I learned is that it is not nearly as hard as you think, and it is profoundly practical for your day-to-day life.
What changed for me is Steven Covey’s introduction of mission statements based on roles and focusing on essential principles in each area. That seemed way more attainable than some one-size-fits-all, super-motivating sentence!
For example, you can break down your life into several prominent roles, such as:
- Individual/Self (including mental, emotional, social, physical & spiritual aspects)
- Spouse or parent
- Friend or family member
- Employee or business owner
- Homeowner, homemaker
(I advise choosing only 4-5 in addition to “self”, because anything more is a bit hard to focus on fully.)
Using this model, I ended up creating a mini-mission-statement for each role and now use what I refer to as my creed 🙂
Writing Your Mission Statement
In writing this “creed”, I found it became surprisingly easy as I reflected on one area of my life at a time – thinking of what I envision & desire in that area, what principles I know to be true & want to live by, and what I would like to accomplish.
As I reflected,
- I didn’t focus on making it 100% perfect for my entire life.
- I flipped through some of my favorite books to help me put my priorities into words. My favorite Brene Brown book* was especially handy.
- I also tried to follow Steven Covey’s advice to use positive & present-tense phrasing as I wrote.
For example, *getting personal here* let’s consider my mission statement regarding my role as a spouse. Below is my current mission statement:
Evan is my best friend and the most important person in my life. I cultivate trust, respect, kindness and affection. It is a 100-100 proposition which requires understanding and empathy. We share all that we have, and we seek shared experiences to build a strong history together.
Of course that’s not true of me everyday. (It’s actually embarrassing how far from reality that is some days!) But it is written with positive words as my goal and my vision, rather than “do not” or “I’ll try” phrases. I recognize that there is plenty of room for me to revise & edit it as I mature, and I used several ideas straight out of The Gifts of Imperfection* that speak to me!
It all seems a bit more doable like this, right?!
Benefits & Getting Started
The most beautiful thing about a mission statement goes far beyond the exercise of writing it.
It provides me a balanced framework as I look at my life and helps me see each role as equally valid and productive. It also gives me direction as I make decisions and prioritize my time. I actually look over my mission statement every week before I make my plan for the days ahead! I would have never guessed it, but I cannot overstate the difference this has made daily in my life.
If you’re interested in creating a mission statement or creed for yourself – whether it’s a few short words or a mini-essay like me – I first and foremost recommend grabbing a copy of 7 Habits! You can borrow it from a friend, snag it from the library, or purchase your own copy here* (which is my personal preference because I underlined SO. many. things.) The chapter on “Begin with the End in Mind” will be so helpful as you consider your mission statement and roles- let alone the other 6 habits that are pure gold.
Secondly, especially if you’re feeling intrigued but not quite sure where to start, I’ve put together these simple, easy-to-follow worksheets for building your mission statement. They’re made to guide your thoughts while leaving all the room for introspection and contemplation. I’ve also included a yearly reflection packet – perfect for New Years or any time you’re able to get away & reflect!
I’m so excited to use these sheets to look back over my statements, and I’ll be putting 7 Habits on my book list again this year. I hope you’ll join me and share your experience in the comments below 🙂
RELATED: Weekly Planning based on Roles & Goals with a Free Template!