Why You Need to Create a Personal Mission Statement

In case you missed it, 'Weird Al' Yankovic shared his views on business manifestos in the new video "Mission Statement," recently featured on The Wall Street Journal blog. The video is vintage Weird Al -- poking fun at the corporate buzzwords and vernacular that we are all too familiar with.

Weird Al's satire aside, creating a mission statement can be a meaningful exercise to help you drive change and achieve higher performance. Companies often create business manifestos to affirm their core beliefs and principles. It can be an enlightening process for any business or entrepreneur to go through, identifying their vision and solidifying the alignment of values and objectives.

In my work with companies -- from small businesses to large corporations -- I have found that the ethics and values reflected in mission statements can be beneficial in conveying clarity and purpose within a company culture. The secret is to strive to actualize that mission statement as much as possible, each and every day.

Mission statements provide us with focus, intention, and conviction.

A personal mission statement is much like a corporate mission statement -- but it is a declaration of who you are, what you stand for and what you want to put out into the world. Personal mission statements are simply a conscious call to action. They can be helpful in providing awareness of your "future self" and will assist you in understanding your own motivation, or lack there-of!

The laser effect
. A personal mission statement helps give you a sense of direction -- without it you cannot resolutely move toward manifesting your goals. Imagine the difference between a light bulb and a laser beam. The light bulb is a small amount of energy that casts an expansive light, whereas the laser (in this case represented by a mission statement) is clear, intentional energy. With a single-minded focus on your intentions it is easier to strategize and be creative. It goes back to the adage, "if you fail to plan, you plan to fail."

How do you develop a personal mission statement? Start by creating a series of simple statements -- and try not to hold judgement over your answers. If you allow free form thought to overtake critical thinking that is when the magic happens through self-discovery. I have provided some examples, below.

  1. First, make a list of the things that you love to do. For example, "I am passionate about..." (writing, teaching, exploring, making a contribution to the world...)

  • Then write down the qualities and values that best represent your character in a positive way, beginning with "I am..." (honest, thoughtful, giving, tenacious, creative, funny...)
  • Complete the following statement, "I would like to possess more..." (list qualities that you wish you had more of. Examples might be patience, leadership, open-mindedness, empathy, etc.)
  • Review all of your answers to the above and combine it into one emotionally charged, purposeful statement that defines and captures the essence of who you are.
  • The final step is to believe in your statement -- live it and reinforce it often. Write it down on a sticky note and post it on your computer or bathroom mirror. Record it on your phone and listen to it. Create your own Weird Al-esque video...whatever it takes for you to solidify the concept; do it.

    In time, you may find that your statement needs updating. Changing your perspective once in awhile allows you to see yourself in a new light, so it is a good idea to revisit your statement often and make refinements as needed.

    Ultimately, a personal mission statement will help inspire you to live a more fulfilling, conscious life. As the celebrated motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said, "Outstanding people have one thing in common: An absolute sense of mission."