What Is a Personal Mission Statement, and How Do You Create One?

Many inspirational quotes will encourage you to keep going after what you want — but how do you know what you want in your life, what comes next, or how you want to get there? You probably have some sense of it, but it’s hard to figure these things out when we’re working with only a fuzzy picture of ourselves and our unique mission. So here is where the personal mission statement comes in. 

A personal mission statement is how you define the version of yourself that you aspire to be. You’ll need to figure out who your best self is before you can be your best self.

Individual goals come and go. Some go because you accomplish them and set your sights on the next milestone. Others go because circumstances change, and you must pivot away from a goal that no longer serves you. 

But this is not the case with personal mission statements. They do evolve alongside your understanding of yourself and your beliefs. But by and large, what a mission statement aims to define is not something that often needs to change. It has no concept of individual milestones or accomplishments. You only need one mission statement, and it stays with you always. It remains a steady reminder of your values and who you want to be as a whole person in this world.

Benefits of a Personal Mission Statement 

We’ve all had moments where it would have been invaluable to have a loving and all-knowing soul point us in the right direction. Well, good news. There is just such a soul, and it’s you! 

There is a reason that nearly every business has a mission statement. And believe it or not, it isn’t just some kind of corporate nonsense. Like with written goals, there are practical benefits, for both person and organization alike, to writing down your core values and defining your mission.

  • Clarity in your decisions. A mission statement is built upon years’ worth of your own wisdom and self-guidance and can be an indispensable advisor in navigating life’s difficult decisions.
  • Appreciation for yourself and your choices. It’s far easier to feel good about your direction when you are following your internal compass.
  • Confidence in your journey, knowing that introspection and self-awareness guide you, rather than emotion and impulse alone.
  • Results for the goals you set. While the mission statement doesn’t contain individual goals, it usually does influence your commitment to systems that move you toward and beyond each goal. 
  • Growth that aligns with who you want to be. Of course, what you set your mind to, you inevitably manifest into reality. With a constant reminder of your ideals at your side, you will find yourself in a steady state of asymptotic ascent to your ideal version of yourself.

Think of this artifact as your guide to life, as defined by none other than yourself. We have most of the guidance we need already; we need a way to distill it and bottle it so that it’s ready when we need it.

The Anatomy of a Personal Mission Statement

So, what does a personal mission statement look like? The short answer is whatever you want it to look like! It is yours, after all. But if you’re looking to get started on one for the first time, that’s not a particularly helpful answer. 

Let’s start with a few basics. Every personal mission statement should be:

  1. In a format that you can check regularly and easily recognize
  2. A clear reminder of your most sincere values and the principles you want to uphold
  3. Easy to update over time as you refine your ideas and clarify your values

And that’s about it for the rules. From there, it is up to you to determine what goes into your unique mission statement and how you prefer to delineate it. 

It can be simple prose, like a paragraph or a page describing your values and mission to yourself. It can also be a simple bulleted list of statements to yourself (this is what I do). Or, if you want to be particularly creative, it could be in the form of a poem, an infographic, or even a painting. So long as it meets the three guidelines above, it can take whatever shape you like.  

How to Get Yours Started

Whatever format you go with, start small. Ask yourself what is most important to you in how you live your life, jot down a few things, and go from there. You only need a few of your most fundamental beliefs to start. Then, with time and life experience, you will likely think of new ways to expand and refine your mission statement. 

Whatever form your mission statement takes, you will never need to set it in stone. Instead, give it room to grow alongside yourself. 

As this artifact becomes something that genuinely reflects your principles, it serves as a valuable guidepost in your life. This is not something to make on one fine day and then set for life. Instead, it is something you slowly refine through ongoing experience and the combination of many moments of clarity. That is the tricky thing about a personal mission statement and what gives it such power. It takes the tightly-packed wisdom and clarity of your past and turns it into a guiding hand to help you navigate your present and future.

My Personal Mission Statement

As one example to help you get started, I will share my mission statement with you. Here are some more examples you can explore for more ideas.

My mission statement is 15 short phrases that remind me what I have discovered is most important to me. I started this list years ago and still review it nearly every day, occasionally tweaking it as I go. It has helped me countless times and continually reminds me of how I strive to be. It guides me through low and high moments and keeps me on track with my best understanding of who I want to be. Here is my personal mission statement, listed in no particular order:

  • Make time to think
  • Give and earn respect
  • Attack problems, not people
  • Listen twice, speak once
  • Give love freely
  • Lead through action
  • Do more with less
  • Find opportunities in challenges
  • Be better today
  • Take health seriously
  • Never stop learning
  • Celebrate every day
  • Subtract the negatives first
  • Keep the goal in mind
  • Nurture good relationships

These are not goals. There will be no moment in my life when I “complete” them. These principles help me live my life the way I want to and be the person I want to be. What are yours? You may have a partial idea already, but without building a personal mission statement of your own, you’ll never know for sure. Start something imperfect today, check back with it often, and give it room to grow right along with you!

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Hey, I’m Sam. I created Smarter and Harder to explore big ideas, both old and new, about building a better life. My mission is to evolve the conversation about personal growth and have fun doing it.

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