Defining Yourself — The Art of Creating an Effective Personal Mission Statement

When you get in your car and drive somewhere, odds are that you will have a well-defined destination in mind. Maybe it’s a particular restaurant, or maybe it’s your friend’s house. Taking this example a step further and applying to today’s topic, lets go on to say that you are in the driver’s seat of your life, steering it in one direction or another. Do you have a well-defined destination in mind? Which direction are you heading in over the next 2-3 months? Where do you plan to be in 2-3 years?

If you haven’t gotten the idea yet, people who are clearly able to define their goals are more likely to achieve them. Yet so many people are undecided and unsure in both their short term and long term goals. The argument could be raised that there are times in your life when it is perfectly normal to be confused, such as when you are deciding on a career path in college. This is very true and I do not refute that. However, the difference is in whether or not you take responsibility for resolving that lack of clarity. A college student who is unsure of his major and takes no proactive steps to explore different career fields to figure out his/her interests is in need of two things:

  1. Self Motivation
  2. Defined Goals

Self motivation can only come from within. It can help to have people encourage and even push you a little to get off your butt and take action, but ultimately real success comes through the motivation you generate from within. Finding and developing that motivation is a whole other topic, so it will not be the focus of today’s post. That leaves defined goals remaining to be discussed. Setting defined goals is important at every stage of life and although there are many different forms of goal setting, the form I want to address today is the personal mission statement.

You may have seen a mission statement on a company’s website. But what exactly is a mission statement? Wikipedia offers a concise definition: “A mission statement is a formal short written statement of the purpose of a company or organization. The mission statement should guide the actions of the organization, spell out its overall goal, provide a sense of direction, and guide decision-making. It provides the ‘framework or context within which the company´s strategies are formulated.‘”

Mission statements are a valuable tool that companies and corporations of all sizes use to guide all of the actions the company takes. It takes an all-encompassing stance to include goals, actions, direction, and framework. This is an invaluable tool for businesses especially during trying times where it can be tempting to veer off path to save money short term. In the same way that businesses utilize their mission statements to give a structure to their actions and strategies, you too can utilize a personal mission statement to guide your own actions and life strategies. By frequently reviewing and consulting your personalized mission statement when making decisions, whether minute or life-altering, it will help keep you in line with your beliefs and values.

Ok, great! So how do we get to building a personal mission statement?

For those who aren’t used to defining their goals in an all-encompassing format, the Mission Statement Builder on franklincovey.com is a very simple and fun tool. The link to it is http://www.franklincovey.com/msb/missions/personal/.

For those of you who want to write your own mission statement, it is important to use precision in your statements. You will want to define:

-The type of person you wish to be

-The type of lifestyle you wish to pursue

-What you wish to accomplish before you leave this world

-Your short and long term goals for your career

-The things you value most and how you will prioritize them into your life

-Anything important in your life that has not reached its full potential


Leaving anything fuzzy or poorly defined will only reduce the effectiveness of your mission statement.

And remember, if you know of anyone who even MIGHT benefit from this post, please pass it along.

‘Till next time.