Well hello there, you fabulous and incredibly self-aware person. You’ve found this article, which means you’ve already realised the many benefits of writing a mission statement that captures the vision you have for how to live a meaningful life.
(Want a quick recap? Take a look at The 7 Benefits of Writing a Personal Vision Statement)
As anyone who understands the importance of life-long personal development knows, taking the time to reflect on our lives and where we’re going is always time well invested.
In this post I’ll walk you through the process of writing a mission statement step by step. Once you’re ready to start, download this free Personal Mission Statement Workbook and you’re ready to go.
Ready? Let’s go!
What makes a good mission statement?
Whether you call it a personal mission statement, vision statement, motto or something else entirely, the important part is that it captures your life purpose.
Not in a fluffy or esoteric way, either. A good personal mission statement is practical. It’s something that can help you make decisions on how you live your life.
You’ll know by now that I’m all about encouraging you to be authentic and do things your own way (even if it means people think you’re a weirdo).
So I’m not going to say that this is the one and only textbook-true way to go about creating your own vision statement. It’s just what’s worked for me and many of the folk I’ve shared it with.
So test it out for yourself, mix it up if you need to, and let me know in the comments whether this process is as helpful for you as it was for me!
What makes a good personal mission statement?
A mission statement is only useful if you actually use it to make decisions and guide your behaviour!
Some tips to increase the likelihood of that happening:
>> Write it down – written goals, dreams and plans are much more likely to be accomplished than ones you keep inside your head.
>> You don’t have to make it long – it can be a sentence, a slogan, a paragraph or even a page (whatever resonates best with you)
>> Write in the first person (“I”) and use active language (“I’ll share my talent for photography with…” instead of “my talent for photography will be shared with…”)
>> Use positive language (“I will..”) instead of negative (“I won’t…”)
Personal mission statement examples
Not sure what you’re aiming for? Here are some examples of personal mission statements:
To be a defender of human rights so that those who don’t have the means to defend themselves are given fair and equal opportunities. I will do this through my work as a public defence attorney and by always taking a stand against injustice.
To treasure above all else the bonds of family and friendship by prioritising time spent with my loved ones.
To live each day with integrity and compassion so that I can give comfort and warmth to people who need emotional support. I’ll do this by exercising compassion and non-judgement, and spending at least two hours every week volunteering for a good cause.
To appreciate and enjoy life in all its absurd wonderfulness by bringing love and laughter to all those who come into my presence.
To help more women lead lives that bring them joy and fulfilment. I’ll do this by leading by example and helping women apply positive change to their own lives (with a little butt-kicking when necessary).
If those statements aren’t razzling your dazzle, just remember that yours doesn’t have to be anything like them.
During my early twenties, my personal motto was short and snappy (it was “no regrets” – that was a fun time). You may want your mission statement to be just as pithy.
The purpose of your vision statement is to help you stay on track with your mission in life.
So the type of words you use, the length and the structure you need to achieve that purpose might be very different from the examples above.
It’s all about you, boo.
How to write a mission statement
You’ll find the 7-step process to write your own mission statement below. I’ve also created a step-by-step workbook that takes you through the whole process and lets you come out the other end with a personal vision statement that’s 100% authentically you.
Step by Step guide to Writing a Mission Statement
1. Create a supportive space
This is an amazing gift that you’re giving yourself, the luxury to think deeply about the meaning of your life and to create your own personal vision of what it means to live well.
It should go without saying that it’s not the sort of exercise you want to squeeze into a lunch break at the office.
You’ll want set aside at least an hours of distraction-free, relaxing, “you-time”. While it’s not strictly necessary to make like a yogi and go sit on a mountaintop, I do recommend finding somewhere that you find calming, peaceful and relaxing.
Your special place might be out in nature, or sitting on a shaded balcony overlooking the sea. Maybe your happy place is sitting amongst a ring of candles in your favourite room, or perhaps just snuggled under a warm blanket with a pot of tea beside you.
Wherever you create your supportive space, make sure you’re comfortable and that you won’t be distracted.
2. Get in the right frame of mind
This process will involve introspection, reflection and contemplation. You’ll want to connect with some of the deeper parts of yourself, so the first step is to get in a relaxed frame of mind.
Some ideas on how to do this:
- Practice deep breathing, imagining yourself getting more relaxed with each breath
- Stare into a candle flame, watching it flicker and jump around until your mind feels settled and at ease
- Meditate for 15-20 minutes
- Go through a short series of yoga poses or stretches, to bring your focus inwards
Once you’re in the right frame of mind, it’s time to start the process of contemplation that’ll help you write your personal mission statement.
3. Imagine your ideal self
Your personal mission statement will describe the best version of yourself, so the first step is to have a clear picture in your head of what best-version-you looks like.
If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you do the Perfect Day exercise. This’ll give you a vivid picture of your ideal lifestyle, and you can use that to dig a little deeper into the type of person you are in that ideal moment.
Once you’ve given some thought to what your ideal self is all about, jot down your ideas in the Personal Vision Statement Workbook.
Download it here
Write whatever words speak to you. Some people like to note down positive behaviours or traits their ideal self has. For example “I’m kind and helpful/generous/committed and tenacious” etc.
Others get more out of recording the type of person they want to be eg “bestselling author/climate defender/beloved mother/award-winning actress” etc. Write whatever feels most inspiring for you.
4. Consider your legacy
You’ve already glimpsed a little into the future by doing the Perfect Day Exercise, now it’s time to look even further ahead at your legacy.
What do you want to be known for once you’re gone?
If someone Googles you, what kind of things do you want to come up in the results? And why is this important to you?
Personally, I really like the idea of writing one’s own eulogy or obituary while you’re still alive – knowing how you want your life to turn out at the end is a good way to direct the way you spend your days now.
If writing your own obituary is too morbid for you, then how about writing down a speech that you’d like to be given at your 100th birthday party?
Either way, this exercise helps you begin with the end in mind (which is one of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People).
Whether it’s in the form of notes or a full speech, write down the contribution you want to make to the world and why that’s important to you.
For example, if you’re a teacher and want your legacy to be generations of children who grow into productive members of society, your “why” might be because you believe that good values are instilled at a young age, or that education is the key to a successful life.
Look deeper into the reasons that your legacy is important to you, and include those reasons in your Workbook.
5. Define your core values
This is quite possibly the most important step of all, and one that can make a huge impact on your life well beyond the wording of your personal mission statement.
Looking over your “why” from the previous step, start to pull out and identify your core values. For example, if the accolades you want to hear at your 100th birthday celebration include “wonderful mother” or “beloved sister who was always there for me,” then you can determine that family and reliability are some of your most important values.
If you need some help with ideas for core values, you can choose from this list by James Clear. Choose as many as you want at the start, but I recommend you eventually cut it down to five at the most (three would be even better).
6. Craft your mission statement
You’ve now got all the information you need to craft your very own personal mission statement.
You have notes on the type of person you want to be, the impact you want to have on the world, and the most important values you need to honour if you want to live an authentic, meaningful life.
Now all you need to do is to pull it all together in a single statement. Simples!
You should use whatever length and format is going to make you feel inspired and motivated when you read it.
If your creativity juices are running low and you just want a template, then you can create your mission statement using the following structure:
Part 1 > How you want to live or who you want to be
Part 2 > Why that’s important
Part 3 > How you intend to make it happen
(For an idea of what this format looks like, take a look back at the sample missions statements I shared above)
Is it compulsory to use that structure? No way! You can totally freestyle your own mission statement, making it longer or shorter than the examples I’ve given here.
It’s important that your vision statement resonates with you.
If you do it right, you should feel a big jolt of motivation whenever you look at it. That’s your life purpose right there. What could be more motivating than that?
7. Review and refine
Congratulations! You’ve just created a personal vision statement that captures who you are and what you want to achieve during your time on earth.
That’s pretty darn special!
Now you have a guiding light, a beacon, that can help you navigate the waters of life and make sure that you’re always staying true to your purpose.
For more ideas on how to use your vision statement, check out the 7 Benefits of Creating a Personal Mission Statement.
Now comes the challenge of actually applying your mission statement to your life. One way to keep your vision top of mind is to print it out and display it somewhere prominent so that your subconscious is regularly reminded of your purpose.
If I weren’t living a life of constant travel, I’d be partial to printing it out with a nice font and a black and white frame. But if you’re a bit too shy to display it publicly (or, like me, don’t have a permanent home base) another idea is to print out your vision statement on some business cards or postcards.
You can keep one card in your purse, and scatter the rest around your apartment. (I like to hide them in handbags and jacket pockets so I get a happy little surprise whenever I find one).
If you go down this track, I highly recommend getting them printed with MOO (US and UK only) because I’m pretty much in love with them.
They have the most fantastic customer experience from order right up to delivery. You can choose from a range of different shaped cards and they’ll let you print a different design on each one!
(Pro tip – if you sign up their newsletter, you can get free shipping too).
Visit MOO and check out their design options.
So that’s it! I’d love to hear what you’ve chosen as your motto or mission statement for your life. Let me know in the comments below.