How to Develop a Personal Mission Statement to Guide Your Efforts Toward a Cohesive and Lasting Impact on Your World
“Outstanding people have one thing in common: an absolute sense of mission.” — Zig Ziglar
It is too easy in modern life to take on new passions and ideas amidst the constant barrage of exciting creations and developments in technology and culture. If left unguided, our passions and motivations can become a wild pinball machine of ideas bouncing around a sphere of influence that is dictated solely by the inputs of our surroundings.
If we allow ourselves to only bounce around that local sphere of external influence that we find ourselves in, we will never push through to new boundaries of experience and understanding of the world around us. It is only at the edges of what we know that we can truly discover something new. What is life if not the continual scratching at the boundaries of existence?
So how do we step above the fray of incessant distraction and impulse? How do we keep ourselves on a cohesive path that guides us forward through the madness to higher planes of experience?
Developing a personal mission statement is the first step towards guiding your life’s passions towards a cohesive and consistent ideal that will enable you to consistently and methodically build a lasting empire of influence and impact on the world around you.
What is a Personal Mission Statement?
A personal mission statement should be a broad and overarching statement of your life’s ideal impact. It should be wide-reaching, yet specific enough that at any point you can step away from your work and determine at a quick glance whether your efforts are getting you closer to your ideals or are simply distractions holding you back.
A personal mission statement is not just a list of goals. Specific goals can come and go, but the overarching mission guiding them should remain constant and only evolve through long-term developments of personal growth.
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” — Maya Angelou
How to Develop a Personal Mission Statement
The best way to start crafting a mission statement is to imagine yourself at the end of your life describing the impact that you had on the world around you. What kind of adjectives would you like to see describing your work? What achievements would you like to have accomplished? What kinds of passions and ideals do you want to be remembered for?
Then ask yourself:
- What skills and attributes do I need to focus on to become the kind of person that is able to achieve the kind of things that I want to achieve?
- What kind of relationships do I need to forge and nourish to make a lasting impact on the world?
- How can I continually focus on the thoughts and ideas and work that really matters and not get sidetracked by things that are unimportant in the grand scheme?
Remember to avoid including specific goals and outcomes in your mission statement. Stick to overarching ideals that can guide your decisions in the daily application of your time and resources.
My Personal Mission Statement
After working through this process over the past few days, I have arrived at the following mission statement for myself:
Make the most effective use of my limited time to expand my personal capabilities to understand the world, and be a shining light of possibility in my sphere of influence, growing that sphere as large as possible for the greatest possible impact on my world.
Let’s break this down…
Make the most effective use of my limited time
This opening clause speaks to a focus on process. Rather than listing a specific set of goals to accomplish, it focuses instead on the most important element that enables as many possible goals to be accomplished in the limited time that is available. A recognition of scarcity of time and resources is critical to maximizing impact in our inherently finite sphere of influence. A focus on efficiency in process rather than concrete results keeps the mind focused on the things we can control and protects our focus from the obstacles of negativity that can arise when outcomes inevitably don’t align with our goals in the short run. By staying focused on the quality of our process we can keep moving through times of adversity without allowing them to slow us down.
to expand my personal capabilities to understand the world
This clause focuses on my own internal struggle to become the person that I need to be to achieve my goals in life. A focus on the improvement of self is necessary before thinking about your impact on the world.
and be a shining light of possibility in my sphere of influence
Only after focusing on our own abilities are we able to consider our influence on the world. I don’t need to be the biggest or baddest or best at anything. I derive most of my pleasure in life simply from being an active participant in the exploration of our world and from sharing that passion and excitement with the people closest to me to help spread that flame of possibility and discovery and knowledge and keep it burning as hot and bright as possible. This is the world that I want to live in, and this is my way of stoking that fire.
growing that sphere as large as possible for the greatest possible impact on my world.
And finally, only after having a positive impact on those closest to me can I hope to influence the greater world at large.
It is important to note that each clause precedes and enables the next clause that follows it. You can not have personal growth without focusing on the process that enables it, and you can’t maximize your impact on the world without first focusing on improving your own knowledge and perspectives and abilities to bring about positive change in your world. Finally, it would be ridiculous to focus on maximizing your sphere of influence without first focusing on making that influence worthwhile.
Strategies for Applying Your Mission Statement and Staying on Track
- Write it down somewhere prominent. — After you have established a mission statement that codifies your life vision, write it down somewhere where you will see it every day. Review it on a consistent basis to keep it fresh in your mind as your guiding light.
- Journal every day to stay focused. — It is important to develop a daily journaling habit to review your daily activities and goals and constantly compare them against your mission statement to make sure that you are staying on track.
- Review new ideas against your mission statement. — Whenever you get excited about a new idea and have the opportunity to dedicate time and resources to new pursuits, take a minute to write down your goals for this new allocation of your time and resources and review these goals against your other current goals and responsibilities to determine how these new
- Review your mission statement yearly. — Your mission statement should be a strong and steady vision of your ideals and as such should not change on a weekly or monthly level. Yet over the course of our lives we gain new perspectives that inevitably change the way we see the world, and our vision for the impact we want to make should necessarily grow with experience. Set aside time once a year to step back from the hustle and bustle of life and think about your mission statement and how it fits in with the new perspectives and experiences that are molding your new view of the world.
“We need to have complete certainty that things will work out, not because we are righteous or wise, but because of the time, the effort, the prayers, and the tools we are using. From the moment we are given awareness about some bigger picture or mission, we have to have complete focus on what to do to get to that place.” — Yehuda Berg
I am still reviewing and thinking about my mission statement every day and using it to help guide my decisions in each new project that I take on, as well as many of the micro decisions that go into creating the path for each project that I’m working on. This clarity of mind and large-scale focus has honed my daily focus in ways that I have never experienced before. That being said, it requires constant awareness and review of your daily activities and habits to keep a sharp focus on the bigger picture.
If you have a chance to try any of these methods to implement your own mission statement I would love to hear about your results. How has it affected your focus in your daily life? Has it helped guide you toward a more cohesive path? Does it make a difference having a clear big picture view of who you want to be?
Please leave a comment here or write to me on Twitter, I’d love to hear from you.