The reason for this article
One of the biggest challenges that I faced on my journey was creating a personal mission statement to keep myself motivated on the “bad days”. Many books and online articles preach the benefits of creating a personal mission statement, but most of the examples and exercises that I have found online have been directed at people who are in work-outside-the-home careers, or at people who are self-employed business owners.
After reading multiple articles and doing many exercises, I formed my own mission statement which can be found on my Mission Statement page. This mission statement is vastly different from others that I have found online in examples, but it is Authentically Ash and that is what matters.
Below you can learn what a personal mission statement is, why it is a good idea to have one, some important guidelines for creating a mission statement, some exercises to help create a personal mission statement and how to maintain your mission statement.
I have taken care to create this in such a way that it is applicable to homemakers, but with some editing you can use these tips in any career choice.
Skip ahead to a specific section
- What is a personal mission statement?
- Five reasons why should you have a personal mission statement
- Important guidelines for creating a personal mission statement
- Exercises to help create a personal mission statement
- Developing your personal mission statement
- Maintenance of your personal mission statement
What is a personal mission statement?
A personal mission statement is a personal declaration of who you are and what matters to you. It is designed to describe the character traits you want to develop, what you value most in life and what a successful life looks like to you. It provides you with a basis for making decisions in your day-to-day life as well as life-changing decisions and it gives you motivation and focus.
Five reasons why you should have a personal mission statement
- A personal mission statement acts as a guidance tool. In life there are times where you will have to make tough decisions. Do you help your friend with that community project she is so passionate about? Should you let your child go to that party? Or how do you react when your husband tells you that he has been promoted, but it requires moving to a city far away from your family and friends? A personal mission statement acts as a guideline in times of tough decisions.
- It serves as a reminder of what is most important to you. Many people get carried away with daily life. You may find yourself in a situation where you start asking “Why am I doing this, nobody cares or notices?” Your personal mission statement reminds you why you are doing what you are doing.
- It serves as a reminder not to get caught up in meaningless stress. On the other side of the coin, things happen in life that cause us stress, and when we are stressed we become more stressed over meaningless things. A personal mission statement reminds you what is not important. Personal Example: I had an incident where Mark (my husband) organized a cupboard. It was lovely and thoughtful of him until I opened a shoebox looking for a photograph of myself as a toddler and discovered that it wasn’t there. He had combined all the photographs he had found and put them into a single spot. I was already under a lot of stress that morning because of a tight schedule and an unexpected crisis at my (now former) workplace. I needed the toddler photograph for a game at a friend’s baby shower, happening in thirty minutes time. It didn’t help that Mark wasn’t at home and not answering his phone. In a moment of stress, I unpacked the whole cupboard onto the floor looking for the new location of photograph. Eventually, close to tears from frustration, I found it. If I had my personal mission statement at that time I believe that I would have realized that it was more important for me to be calm, collected and supportive of my friend, than to get completely stressed over a silly little photograph. When I got to the Baby Shower, I found that most of the guests had forgotten to bring photographs anyway!
- Helps you identify core values. Since each of us is created unique, with different cultural backgrounds, different societal influences and different family backgrounds, our top 5 values will also be different. A large part of creating a personal mission statement is to identify your values. We all have values, even a criminal has values, they are just vastly different from those of a housewife. Identifying your values is a necessary part as they give you a starting point for all life decisions.
- It gives you a purpose and drive. You will notice that all the high achievers in any field have a mission or driving force guiding them. They have the attitude that they control their own destinies, and “take the bull by the horns” in a manner of speaking. They take a proactive approach to life, taking full responsibility for themselves. Many of them have a personal mission statement that is their guiding force. Why should a homemaker, or housewife be any different? In essence you are the manageress of your household. A correctly made mission statement reminds you of this, and gives you a reason to get out of bed each morning and care for your home, family or other responsibilities you may have.
Guidelines for creating a personal mission statement
Before I start guiding you through creating your mission statement, I have some guidelines that I want you to keep in mind while you work through the exercises in the next section. These guidelines are:
- Your mission statement must be authentic and honest. It is more important to be honest with yourself than anything else while you create this mission statement. We have so many external factors bombarding us from every direction during daily life. TV commercials tell us what products to use. TV Series model “real life” [or rather an ideal life]. Magazine and internet articles tell us what careers to pursue, how to dress and what our child’s 5th birthday party should look like. Our friends and family give us well-meaning advice without taking the time to really know our hearts. You are not creating your mission statement for the TV, magazine, internet, friends or family. You are creating it for YOU and it will only work for you if you have been completely authentic and honest with yourself while doing these exercises. Question every answer you give, ask yourself “Is this from my heart, my internal world? Or did I write this because of external influence?” Personal Example: While I was creating my mission statement, I crossed out 2 previous mission statements during the most recent sitting exercise, and completely scrapped all the others I had attempted to create over the years because the ones created before this recent sitting I never asked myself the right questions. All the ones I scrapped were created with other people in mind, their expectations of me. As a result, those mission statements didn’t last longer than a week before I deviated from them. If it doesn’t stick, you haven’t been authentic and honest with yourself.
- Be prepared for multiple drafts before the finished product. I cannot count the number of mission statements I have tried to write, and as I mentioned in the last point, there were 2 drafts before I created the finished product that can be seen on my Mission statement page. I don’t expect that one to be the last one either, as I grow older and wiser I may alter the mission statement again and again. So you need to be aware that this isn’t a cookie-cutter process, it will take a lot of thought, reflection, prayer and time to get a personal mission statement that is right for you.
- Be specific. You can’t beat about the bush with this. You need to be specific. Saying “I will become a better member of the community” won’t be as effective as saying “I will be a good member of the community by participating in community events and making an effort to build relationships with the people I share the neighbourhood with.”
- Your goals will be based upon your mission statement, not the other way around. When you set goals for yourself you will always look back at your mission statement and see how the goals you are setting are leading you in the direction of your personal mission statement.
- Take your time. Don’t rush this process. I took almost 2 weeks to develop my current mission statement, and it was well worth the time. It has had much more “stick” than the ones I tried to develop in an afternoon. It is a good idea to write out your mission statement then read it again the following day and see if you still agree with what you wrote.
- Don’t be scared to change it. If you read it the next day, or a week from now, and it doesn’t feel quite right, then don’t hesitate to go over your notes from the exercises below and rewrite your mission statement. It is completely OK to change it as often as you need to.
- Get creative. You are allowed to daydream, to think about things that have not happened, and might not happen. Personal Example: I dreamed of a large cottage (my dream home) in the middle of the English countryside with a little forest and a steam train that came past in the distance at 8am and 5pm each day. The only modern parts of the home were the appliances in the kitchen! Through the dream, I was able to see that I valued simplicity and an uncomplicated lifestyle, taking each day as it came.
- When life hands you lemons, you want this mission statement to pick you up again! The mission statement is pointless if it doesn’t speak to your heart and motivate you. You want to be able to pick it up during a difficult time and feel motivated to get up and go again.
- It is a guide to what you want to become, not necessarily who you are right now. Your heart knows what it wants you as a person to become. You don’t write it from the perspective of what you are right now, but rather from the end view of who you hope to have become by the time you leave this earth.
- Avoid contradictions. A person cannot serve two masters. You need to make sure that all parts of your life complement each other and are reflected as complimentary in your personal mission statement. Personal Example: A year ago I tried to develop a personal mission statement for myself. I realised that I valued being an excellent wife and homemaker, more than I valued being successful in my career. I was in a job that required excellence in every part of my work (excellence was one of the company’s values). But I was unable to be excellent in every part of the work while I felt that I wasn’t being excellent in my home and relationship with my husband. Soon after I came to this realization, I resigned. My values were conflicting with my career. I did stick to my value of integrity though, and gave the company ample time to find my replacement and for me to train that person.
- Be prepared to make changes in your life. As you can see in the example in the previous point, you might need to make difficult changes in your life in order to live out your mission statement. Mark and I had to take a leap of faith when I left my full-time job to work with him in his business part-time, which in turn allows me to better fulfil my mission of being homemaker, wife and soon-to-be mother. It wasn’t an easy decision, there were plenty of tears and emotional turmoil involved, but it is one of the few things in my life I wouldn’t do differently if I ever had a do-over.
Exercises to help create a personal mission statement
You don’t have to do all these exercises when creating your personal mission statement, but the more of them you do, the better your resources will be to create your personal mission statement. Some of the exercises are going to require you to stretch your imagination and play a little make-believe as they may go against your beliefs of what happens when you die (for example). Please don’t get “hung up” on the practically of the exercise, but rather see the meaning behind the exercise, which is to make you think about what is important to you.
Exercise 1: Funeral visualization
Imagine that you are sitting on a bench outside a funeral home or church. As you sit there, you notice that the people entering the building are your friends, family, work colleagues and people you know from your community. Intrigued, you follow them into the building, and see a framed photograph of yourself in the front. It is a picture of what you look like as you are today. You walk to the front of the building and pick up a bulletin from the seat of the chair you sat on. As you look at the cover, you notice that your date of death is a full 100 years and 4 months after your date of birth. You have lived a full and complete life. Some of the people around you passed away years ago, but they all look like they are in their 20’s or early 30’s, a couple are young children or teenagers. This is your funeral and everybody is there, living and dead, to pay tribute to you, and you get to watch and listen.
Looking through the bulletin, you notice that there will be 4 speakers. The first will be a family member, the second is a close friend, the third is a work colleague and the fourth is somebody you knew in your community or while growing up.
When each person speaks, they talk first talk about your character, morals and values. Then the person moves onto talking about how you influenced him/her while you were alive. Lastly the person talks about your contributions or achievements as related to your family/work/friendships/community (depending on which speaker it is).
Now, as you think about this, write down what you think each person would say about you, as you are today.
Now realize that you can completely change your destiny at this very moment by making a committed decision to do so.
Write down what you would like each person to say about you, if you could change your destiny to be anything you wanted it to be.
Note for the housewife/homemaker: View your work as your home, and instead of a work colleague, imagine somebody you share your home with, or somebody who comes into your home regularly as the speaker for this section. You could also visualize your husband speaking about you as his helper and wife at this point.
Exercise 2: Do-over
After a wonderful nights rest you wake up to find yourself in the bedroom you had when you were 5 years old. You look around the room and its familiar surroundings. As you look down at yourself, you notice that your body is back the way it was when you were 5 years old. The strange thing is you remember everything that happened in your life up until yesterday. You realize (without knowing how) that you have been given the opportunity to live your life over again, with all the knowledge you have at this exact moment. During the morning, you sit down with some paper and a box of crayons to re-plan your life.
Write out your game-plan for your life as it would be if you had the opportunity to live it over again (from the age of 5).
Exercise 3: Some questions to answer
- Write down 5 things you are proud of having achieved in your life so far
- Write down 5 things you would still like to achieve
- Write down 5 things you would change if you could
- If time and resources were no problem, how would you make a difference in:
- The world
- Your family
- Your friends
- Your local community
- Your work / home
- Write down 5 things you love most about your life
- Write down 5 things that get you excited
- Write down 5 things that get your blood boiling
- Write down 5 skills you would like to learn
- What promises have you made yourself? (either ones you have stuck to or ones you haven’t stuck to)
- Think about your roles (e.g. wife, mother, Christian, teacher etc.), write them all down. Which ones don’t you like? Cross them out. Now write out the others again from most important to least important.
- If somebody was to type your name into Google, what websites or articles about you would you like to pop up?
- Complete the sentence (you can complete the sentence multiple times if there is more than one answer that comes to mind):
- I am passionate about…
- I want to be… (e.g. honest, thoughtful, giving, a good leader…)
- It annoys me when other people…. (e.g. talk to loudly, are inconsiderate of others)
Developing your Personal mission statement
Going over what you have written
As you look through what you have written during the exercises above, see if you notice any common themes within your answers. I noticed that I wanted to be a good friend, hostess, wife, mother and Christian above all else when I did these exercises. I noticed that most of my answers centred around my home and personal life, rather than a career. You might be the opposite.
Were there any questions that were difficult for you to answer? Have you considered that those things might not be that important to you?
Try to read what you wrote as somebody who doesn’t know you that well, a great-grandchild 100 years from now perhaps. What would you say was most important to the person who wrote out those answers?
Format what you have written into your mission statement
This is the hardest part of the process, and the part that will take the longest. Go over what you wrote and complete the sentences below. Try out multiple combinations and phrases until you find one that feels just right.
- My mission in life is to…
- I will fulfil this mission by…
- My roles that contribute to this mission include…
- My values that contribute to this mission include…
You can take a look at my Personal Mission Statement for an example.
Maintenance of your personal mission statement
- Daily: Read your mission statement to yourself each morning. This is to remind you of your purpose. Decide on something you can do today to build towards your mission statement.
- Monthly: Review your month according to your mission statement. Where have you succeeded, where have you slipped up. Set a few small goals for the next month that will contribute to you achieving your mission statement.
- Yearly (or more regularly if needed): Review your mission statement and see if it is still relevant to your life. Plan some goals for the coming year that will help you achieve your mission in life.
Communicate with me
I would love to read your mission statement once you have written it. Please leave me a comment below!