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Living with a mission

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Mission StatementCompanies use mission statements to let people know why they are in existence. Their mission statement could contain information about who they are, what they do, and how they do it. Although corporate mission statements vary greatly, each serves as a guide for the company, its employees, and the general public. But how many of us have personal mission statements? Informal research suggests that few people use detailed written mission statements in their own lives. Sure, most people have some idea where they are going and what they hope to accomplish in life but few have actually written a formal mission statement. What are the benefits of having a written personal mission statement? First, it’s easier to define the actions and goals that will help you achieve your vision. It serves as a roadmap to get you where you want to go. A mission statement allows you to measure your current reality and your progress toward your ideal life. It also allows you to evaluate your values and incorporate them into your daily life.

A mission statement is simply a statement of what guides you, what inspires you, or what you want to accomplish in your life. There are many different ways to approach writing a personal mission statement, but an effective statement can be written in four simple steps. First, list one to three values or principles that you live by and why these are important to you. If you have more than three values on your list, order them by importance to you and select the top three. Next, list the things that bring you happiness, inspire, and satisfy you. This would include the things you do best and most enjoy doing. Then list the things you’ve always wanted to do or the legacy that you would like to leave. These three lists will be combined and used to write your personal mission statement.

An effective mission statement will be simple, clear and brief (between 2-5 sentences). There are many different ways to combine these three lists into a personal mission statement. The first method is to use your own words and combine each of your three lists into a meaningful statement. The second method is to use a template and fill in the blanks with your answers from the above exercises. There are many templates available online that can guide you to crafting a mission statement. Here are a few of my favorite templates:

I value [1-3 values] because [why these are important to you]. I will [what you will do to live by these values].

To live each day with [1-3 values or principles], so that [what living these values will give you]. I will do this by [specific behaviors].

To treasure above all else [most important things to you] by [what you can do to live priorities].

As you write your personal mission statement, remember to keep it simple, clear and brief. Be sure to state everything in the present tense and keep it positive. If there are any negative statements, restate or redirect them to positive statements. Make your personal mission statement part of your everyday life – keep it handy and review it frequently as you schedule your daily or weekly activities. You will find that your mission statement may continue to change and evolve as you do. Revisit it often and make any necessary changes. And finally, keep in mind that you will get what you focus on. The more effort and focus you give to living your mission statement, the more results you will see in your life.

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One Response to “Living with a mission”

  1. Michael L. Gooch Says:

    For me, it seems awful pompous of us to think that every organization is so unique and special that each one needs its own unique and special mission statement. It is so pretentious it’s painful to watch. Could you imagine the look on a trail boss’s face if you asked him for his mission statement prior to a trail drive? He might say, “What part of ‘sell these cattle in Omaha’ do you not understand?” I cannot help but laugh when I visualize cowboys sitting around a campfire developing a mission statement. Everything within an organization evolves. Processes change, customers change, management and leaders change, owners change. How can a mission statement realistically encapsulate all this evolution without being so nebulous as to be worthless?
    In case you are wondering, the mission statement on my ranch is this: Make Money / Have Fun. If this is not the mission, then why in the world am I doing it? All of the adjectives and descriptors that could be included in a mission I choose to simply call life. Michael L. Gooch, SPHR Author of Wingtips with Spurs: Cowboy Wisdom for Today’s Business Leaders http://www.michaellgooch.com (http://www.amazon.com/Wingtips-Spurs-Michael-L-Gooch/dp/1897326882/)

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