As we continue to establish the “new normal”, this is a great time to think about what that means to each of us personally.
Whether you call it a personal mission statement, vision statement, personal philosophy statement or something else entirely, it’s a succinct description of your mission in life in a form that you can use to guide your behavior.
Writing a personal mission statement is a great way both to clarify our life’s purpose and to help us spend our time here on this lovely blue planet wisely. Here are a few reasons why this can be such a helpful tool.
1. It clearly encapsulates your “why”
With all that is going on in the world today, we are constantly asking the question, “why?”. And, since we are unable to come up with a clear answer to this question it’s easy to experience feelings of confusion and hopelessness.
The search for meaning in one’s life is a basic part of the human condition. Taking the time to think deeply about who we are (or who we want to be) and the contribution we’ll make to the world provides a sense of identity and meaning, in turn, this replaces those initial feelings with those of confidence and hope.
You decide what you need to live a life of meaning and significance, instead of relying on what society or peers or even advertisers tell you is needed to be happy and leave a positive mark on this earth. Capturing it in a written statement that you can look back on during the ups and downs of life can inspire you to keep living according to those values, even when the world is telling you to be someone else.
2. Helps you stay focused
It’s all too easy to get swept away by life’s never-ending distractions. The lure of “shiny object syndrome” can see our focus pulled away from our own path as we jump from new venture to new venture, news report to news report, following the herd. And it’s all too easy to wake up one day and realize we’re so far off our path.
Having a personal mission statement can keep you on track. It reminds you of what you’re here for, and what you need to do, be or experience to live a more fulfilled life.
As Stephen Covey said in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, one should start with the end in mind. Your personal vision statement is the “end” – a picture of where you want to be. Having this vision written down helps you cut through the noise so you can focus on the things that are truly in line with the person you’re aspiring to be.
Once you have the big picture in place, you’ll be ready to start making plans on how to get there.
3. Keeps you going through the rough times
When life is getting too complicated or difficult, having a personal mission statement to refer to can help you see the bigger picture, a picture that was painted by YOU. By taking the time to focus on your personal mission, you’re measuring yourself against your own standards instead of life goals and values that someone else has created for you.
So when life gets a bit dreary and tedious, referring to your personal mission statement refocuses your attention to the ideal future you’re aiming at, and helps you realize that the difficulties you’re trudging through are all moving you towards your higher purpose.
4. Simplifies decision-making
A personal mission statement gives you a standard against which to measure choices. When you have major life decisions to make, your mission statement helps you decide which one is more likely to help you fulfil your life purpose.
5. Lets you set your own reality
Too many of us are swayed into living a life that meets other people’s expectations. Whether it’s manipulative advertisers, self-serving politicians, or even well-meaning friends and family, we’re bombarded with other people’s expectations of what we need to do and how we need to be in order to be a worthy person.
But we all have our own path in life, and taking time for introspection, to clarify your own personal beliefs about a meaningful life, helps you cut through the noise of others’ expectations. You can reclaim the ability to create your own life, and make it one that you love living.
Keep is short – At least short enough to remember. Often, we are faced with a situation that creates overwhelming emotions that may temporarily alter our decision-making abilities. When this happens, having a personal mission statement to refer to, can make the difference between staying on track with our core beliefs and taking action that we’ll later regret.
Employers – By doing this exercise of creating personal mission statements with your team, you show that you care about them as individuals and want to help them reach their full potential.