Personal Mission Statement In A Nutshell

A personal mission statement clarifies what is important in life to an individual. A personal mission statement is a written statement of purpose that allows individuals to define their calling in life. It helps clarify goals, values, beliefs, or passions, communicate them, and better execute a personal growth strategy.

Understanding a personal mission statement

Most statements incorporate the following elements:

  • Goals, values, beliefs, or passions.
  • Personal, professional, or desired attributes.
  • Past achievements, awards, or honors.

Personal mission statements are often associated with building a brand. The individual can use their mission statement as a filter to determine whether new opportunities are aligned with their brand. Ultimately, this makes personal and professional life decisions much easier to make and increases the odds of success.

Writing a personal mission statement

Developing a personal mission statement can be difficult for some because it requires a certain level of introspection. One must think deeply about what is important to them, all the while remaining authentic and honest about their desires.

To make the process easier, follow these steps:

  1. Identify past successes. Brainstorm past examples of personal success at work, home, or in the community. Are there any common themes? A product innovation specialist who enjoys managing fundraising events may classify creative problem solving as a common theme.
  2. Identify core values. Who are you and what are your priorities in life? Are you creative, compassionate, positive, analytical, or a decision-maker? If you are struggling to describe yourself, ask others to describe you. From the list of values, choose the five that are most important. Finally, choose one value that resonates with you most deeply.
  3. Identify contributions. Theoretically, how could you contribute to a work, family, or community scenario in a meaningful way? Use values and past successes as a guide.
  4. Identify goals. While you should make a list of short and long-term goals, more ambitious long-term goals are more likely to result in motivation and purpose.
  5. Write the mission statement. Here, brevity is important – ensure that the statement is one to two sentences at most.

Examples of notable personal mission statements

For further inspiration, consider the following examples from notable leaders:

  • Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla – “If something is important enough you should try, even if the probable outcome is failure.
  • Oprah Winfrey, founder of the Oprah Winfrey Network – “To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be.
  • Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group – “To have fun in my journey through life and learn from my mistakes.
  • Denise Morrison, CEO of Campbell Soup Company – “To serve as a leader, live a balanced life, and apply ethical principles to make a significant difference.

Other personal mission statement examples

As we saw, personal mission statements encourage individuals to clarify their values, objectives, and what is otherwise important to them.

They define who the individual is as a person, or in a work context, who they represent as a team member or employee.

According to career coach and author Dan Miller, personal mission statements should be comprised of three main components:

  1. The individual’s skills, abilities, or competencies. In other words, what they like to do.
  2. Personality traits that define how the individual prefers to operate, and
  3. Their values, passions, and aspirations. These provide clarity on what motivates them and why they want to excel at something.

Personal mission statements that are authentic and representative of the individual can serve as that person’s compass as they live their lives or make important decisions.

Successful people utilize mission statements to record their lofty but achievable intentions and ensure that they act in accordance with their values more often than not.

Personal mission statements of celebrities and business identities

To cement the idea of a personal mission statement in your mind, let’s list a few real-world examples from well-known individuals in life and business:

  • Walt Disney – “To make people happy.
  • Will Smith – “Improve lives. The concept of improving lives runs through the center of everything I do.
  • Mahatma Gandhi – “I shall not fear anyone on Earth. I shall fear only God. I shall not bear ill will toward anyone. I shall not submit to injustice from anyone. I shall conquer untruth by truth. And in resisting untruth, I shall put up with all suffering.
  • Maya Angelou – “To do more than survive, but to grow and live with passion, while meeting life with compassion, humor, and style.
  • Joel Manby (CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment) – “Love God and others.”
  • Malala Yousafzai (Nobel Prize laureate) – “I want to serve the people. And I want every girl, every child to be educated.
  • Jeffrey Madden (Senior VP at RMB Capital) – “Embrace something bigger than yourself. Continually improve your skills. Inspire others to achieve great things and make the world a better place. This is how the quiet humble person leaves their mark.

Example personal mission statements

To conclude, we will describe some hypothetical personal mission statements that suit several different contexts.

Example 1

My mission in life is to start my own family and keep at the forefront of my mind that whatever I do now will affect them later. As a result, I will strive to engage in activities that will best benefit my future. In this future, I would also like to buy a farm and become a children’s therapist that uses animals as a restorative technique. 

Example 2

To offer an unparalleled level of customer service in my industry that will allow me to build a loyal customer base. As I grow as a person and climb the corporate ladder, I will return the favor to those in need and give back to the community.

Example 3

My objective is to establish the most prestigious advertising firm in Los Angeles from the ground up. With decades of industry experience, I recognize the importance of good ideas, hard work, and an established network of industry contacts. Moving forward, I will spend at least three hours per day working on this mission and do whatever it takes to see it through. I resolve to push through periods of low motivation, self-doubt, and criticism.

Example 4

To become the go-to expert for all things SEO and become one of the industry’s highest-paid individuals. This will be accomplished with a suite of tools that make SEO less expensive and more efficient. I will also devote time to creating an extensive library of explainer videos that makes SEO and its concepts more accessible to webmasters. Once I am in a position to employ staff, I will write a corporate vision statement to create a company culture that best reflect my personal values

Key takeaways

  • A personal mission statement is a written statement of purpose that helps an individual clarify what is important to them.
  • A personal mission statement clarifies the attributes that make up a personal brand. These attributes filter out personal or professional opportunities that are unlikely to result in fulfillment or success.
  • Crafting a personal mission statement requires introspection and deep thinking. Those who find this process difficult can ask friends or family for advice. They can also take inspiration from the mission statements of successful leaders.
  • Personal mission statements encourage individuals to clarify their values, objectives, and what is otherwise important to them.
  • Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai’s personal mission statement is focused on education for children and service to God, while Will Smith’s statement reminds him to prioritize improving lives.
  • While most use personal mission statements to set meaningful goals or clarify how they can live more intentionally, the examples of Mahatma Gandhi and Jeffrey Madden show they can also be more philosophical or poetic. 

Connected Business Frameworks

Andy Grove, helped Intel become among the most valuable companies by 1997. In his years at Intel, he conceived a management and goal-setting system, called OKR, standing for “objectives and key results.” Venture capitalist and early investor in Google, John Doerr, systematized in the book “Measure What Matters.”
First proposed by accounting academic Robert Kaplan, the balanced scorecard is a management system that allows an organization to focus on big-picture strategic goals. The four perspectives of the balanced scorecard include financial, customer, business process, and organizational capacity. From there, according to the balanced scorecard, it’s possible to have a holistic view of the business.
The theory was developed by psychologist Edwin Locke who also has a background in motivation and leadership research. Locke’s goal-setting theory of motivation provides a framework for setting effective and motivating goals. Locke was able to demonstrate that goal setting was linked to performance.
A SMART goal is any goal with a carefully planned, concise, and trackable objective. To be such a goal needs to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based. Bringing structure and trackability to goal setting increases the chances goals will be achieved, and it helps align the organization around those goals.
Businesses use backcasting to plan for a desired future by determining the steps required to achieve that future. Backcasting is the opposite of forecasting, where a business sets future goals and works toward them by maintaining the status quo.
Moonshot thinking is an approach to innovation, and it can be applied to business or any other discipline where you target at least 10X goals. That shifts the mindset, and it empowers a team of people to look for unconventional solutions, thus starting from first principles, by leveraging on fast-paced experimentation.

Related Strategy Concepts: Go-To-Market StrategyMarketing StrategyBusiness ModelsTech Business ModelsJobs-To-Be DoneDesign ThinkingLean Startup CanvasValue ChainValue Proposition CanvasBalanced ScorecardBusiness Model CanvasSWOT AnalysisGrowth HackingBundlingUnbundlingBootstrappingVenture CapitalPorter’s Five ForcesPorter’s Generic StrategiesPorter’s Five ForcesPESTEL AnalysisSWOTPorter’s Diamond ModelAnsoffTechnology Adoption CurveTOWSSOARBalanced ScorecardOKRAgile MethodologyValue PropositionVTDF FrameworkBCG MatrixGE McKinsey MatrixKotter’s 8-Step Change Model.

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