A mission statement is a small, overlooked, but powerful thing. Like the theme of a great book, a mission statement is often lurking beneath the surface, sometimes unnoticed, but always guiding the characters and plot in a subtle but profound way. A mission statement is the theme of our life and our work, whatever that work may be. It is the next level. It gives life deeper meaning. It can guide us when we’re lost or faced with a fork in the road. We all need that help from time to time.The good news is that most of us probably already have a mission statement in some way, shape, or form. But if that form is anything other than a concise and written distillation of our identity and desires, we’re missing out on a powerful tool. The bad news is that turning our identify and desires – which already guide us on a subconscious level – into something concrete is very difficult. But it’s extremely rewarding.
A mission statement should be short – five sentences or less. It should be a declaration to ourselves and the outside world that explains who we are and what we’re all about. It should tell people what to expect from us. It should help the world understand our goals and what, if they choose to follow along, they will receive in return. It could be what they will receive from our blogs, our businesses, our conversations – the method of delivery is up to us, but the product we deliver (physical items, knowledge, friendship) is going to be built around a common theme, and that theme needs to be explained.
The external value of this statement is apparent, but the internal value is often even greater. A mission statement helps ground us in what we truly want, making sure that we never lose sight of what matters most. It is a pillar of support at all times. No matter where you are, no matter what you do, if you understand what you want out of life, you’ll always be equipped to make the best decisions possible.
Creating your own mission statement is a personal process, but here is how I made mine:
- Free write, a lot. Pretend you’re talking to a friend or journal, explaining your life values and what your most cherished dreams are. Where do you want to be in 10 years? What do you want people to think of you? What do you want to help other people understand? If you were gone, what would you want them to say you cared most about?
- Read what you wrote, and pick out the most important, concrete, things, such as: I want to be a successful writer, I want to help people in need, I want to help other people live a carefree lifestyle, I want to travel the world and experience different cultures, I want to own the world’s largest sock collection, etc.
- Go through that list and pick out the three most important things, the common threads that run through the entire group, the things you cannot live without
- Turn those things into a statement
Below is a first draft of my mission statement. Stay tuned for an upcoming post about how to refine it into something easy to understand, and how to use that second version as a springboard for creating your own stories/blog/brand (ones that are unique to you, that other people will love to read).
My first draft mission statement:
I’m a writer, with everything that entails, who cares most about creating stories that focus on the grayest areas of good vs. evil. I love people to a fault and want to travel the world to experience different cultures and places, and I try to use those inputs to fuel my creativity. I care about fitness, and friends, and always seeing the good side of everything, and my dream is to write about all of these things, and not just fiction, to help anyone who might need it. I focus my life on stories, people, travel, fitness, and positivity – and I try to connect people to these things through fiction, blogs, and conversations.
What about you? How do you feel about mission statements? Worthwhile? Waste of time? If you have one, what is it?