What is a personal mission statement?
A personal mission statement could be a sentence, a paragraph or an essay that explains your purpose. A personal mission statement could also be a quote or mantra that speaks to how you want to live your life. Your personal statement should change over time, but the idea is to provide a clear description of who you are and your overarching goals.
The point of creating a mission statement for yourself is to make it easier to see if your actions are in line with your core ambitions. So what is a personal mission statement? A guiding principle that makes it easier to say no to things that don’t support it and helps you to focus your time and energy on the things that truly matter to you.
While personal mission statements are typically made solely for the eyes of the person who wrote it, sharing the statement could help others better understand the author. By publishing your personal mission statement, you provide insight into what you value and how you choose to prioritize your time and efforts. People that look up to you may be inspired to reflect on their core values and create their own personal statement. And people who want to work with you may get a better sense of projects that you would actually be interested in. No need to rush and make your personal mission statement public, but if it makes sense for you, go for it.
How to write a personal mission statement
When it comes to writing a personal mission statement, it’s easy to put it off – after all, summing up who you are and what you want out of life in a sentence or two can be a little bit intimidating. But don’t worry, personal mission statements can and should change over time as experiences shape you. So the best advice is to just get started. Here’s how to write a personal mission statement in no time.
- Schedule some quiet time to just write. Do this once a day for a week. Maybe this is just for 5 minutes or you get into it and find that you need 30 minutes or more. Make sure that you schedule this time for when you aren’t rushed and can focus on just this. Write in a place that doesn’t make you tense or distracted.
- Start with a question. What’s important to me? What do I want my legacy to be? What does my ideal day look like? Who would I do anything for? What am I grateful for? When do I feel the calmest? What makes me feel powerful? What makes me different from other people? When do I feel most useful? What makes me feel alive? What do I wish I made more time to do? What am I great at? What’s something I haven’t done that I want to do before I die? If I had an extra hour each day, how would I fill it? Who inspires me? Why? Who do I want to inspire? Why? What am I most proud of? The list can go on forever, and your questions can be as broad or as specific as you want. The point of this exercise is to get you to reflect on who you are now, who you want to become and what you’re willing to do to get there. Use concrete examples when you can, and don’t judge your own answers.
- Review your entries after you’ve been journaling for about a week. What patterns are emerging? Is anything standing out as a top goal? How does that connect to your greater purpose? Use these entries to figure out your life’s priorities. This should be for your professional life, your personal life, and your own passions and interests. You can also name a top priority for who you are physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Whatever works for you.
- Make a statement. Now that you’ve reviewed these entries, you should be ready to craft your own personal mission statement. According to author William Arruda, you can think of your personal mission statement as, “The value you create + who you’re creating it for + the expected outcome.” A great example of this is CEO Amanda Steinberg of Dailyworth.com. Her personal mission statement is, “To use my gifts of intelligence, charisma, and serial optimism to cultivate the self-worth and net-worth of women around the world.” That’s how to write a personal mission statement that recognizes your value and identifies how you intend to use those talents. If you don’t feel ready to draft your personal mission statement just yet, continue to steps 5 and 6.
- Hung up on identifying “the value you create”? Just ask around. Look to people who really know you, and people who you spend a lot of time with in different contexts. Ask them what you do well. Ask for specifics, especially when it comes to less tangible skills – like charisma or creating a supportive environment.
- Look to your idols. Research the people that you admire to see how they live their lives, and what practices helped them along the way. Do some detective work to find the personal mission statements of the people that you look up to. There’s a good chance that you’ll find something. There’s no reason for you to copy their mission statement word for word, but hopefully, it will inspire you to write your own.
Your personal mission statement is important, so dedicate the time that it deserves. Even if it isn’t perfect, do your best and remember that you can revise your statement as needed. To see how to write a personal mission statement up close, and for more inspiration, take a look at some of our favorite examples in the next section.
Some of our favorite personal mission statement examples
No matter the industry, successful leaders craft personal mission statements. That’s why we’ve assembled great personal mission statement examples from media, technology, education and the arts. If your field isn’t listed above do some research on your own. It’s easy to find great examples of personal mission statements if you do a quick Google search of people you admire.
- Oprah Winfrey: As a media mogul and CEO of OWN, Oprah Winfrey has stated that her personal mission statement is, “to be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be.” While Oprah may not spend most of her time in a traditional classroom, her work as an interviewer, motivational force, and author fit into the framework of her personal mission statement.
- Elon Musk: “If something’s important enough you should try. Even if the probable outcome is failure.” Tech industry heavyweight Elon Musk is known for his massive successes through innovation. Musk is the founder, CEO, and lead designer of SpaceX; co-founder, CEO, and product architect of Tesla, Inc.; and co-founder and CEO of Neuralink. While this quote may not showcase his own aptitudes, Musk’s personal mission statement emphasizes that risking failure is worth it when something is important to you.
- Malala Yousafzai: This young Nobel Prize laureate and activist has said, “I want to serve the people. And I want every girl, every child to be educated.” Malala’s personal mission statement is broad, but her actions as an advocate, author, and activist all clearly link back to these objectives. This is how to write a personal mission statement that easily lends itself to being shared publicly as it gets at a larger vision.
- Ai Weiwei: This contemporary artist has stated, “It’s not about the work, it’s about saying something.” When the artist was asked about which of his pieces he was most pleased with, this was the response. And one could argue that this covers the full body of his work as an artist/activist.
Now that’s how to write a personal mission statement!
Writing a personal mission statement in different places
Unlike the personal mission statement examples above, remember that you don’t have to share your personal mission statement with anyone if you don’t want to. However, your statement is a useful starting point as you start to craft your “about me” sections and mini-biographies on various social media platforms and on your website. Now that you know how to write a personal mission statement, customize your bios and mission statements based on where you are sharing them. The tone will likely change, as will the length. Consider your audience and the common practices based on the profile. There should be a common thread within each bio that somehow connects to your original personal mission statement.
In addition to acting as a template for your various bios online, your personal mission statement should also figure into the execution of your overall strategy for your personal brand. Just like the examples of personal mission statements above, yours should get to the core of who you are in real life, but it should also influence the overall cohesion of your online personal brand. If you already have a presence online, consider using your personal mission statement to conduct an audit and find the connective tissue among each part. If your current online personal brand is all over the place, come up with a new strategy that centers around your personal mission statement.
Just as you’ve seen in the earlier examples of personal mission statements, the core of what you write should show up in your work, your personal life and your personal brand.
Now that you know how to write a personal mission statement, it’s time to focus on your personal brand. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been actively growing your personal brand online over the past decade or you never gave it a second thought – it’s time for an upgrade. You’ve spent time identifying your own guiding principles, now you need to make sure that your online presence reflects this accurately. Your approach in developing an effective personal brand should be the same whether you want to share your personal insights, increase your earning potential or suppress negative search results.
Pillar 1: Build your basic brand
You’ve spent time learning how to write a personal mission statement, now it’s time to create a brand that works in tandem with this. When building your personal brand, start by auditing everything that’s already out there. Scan your search results in Google, and really review what pictures, videos, posts, comments, etc are out there about you on social media. Take stock of all this and pay close attention to content that is damaging, irrelevant or personal. That’s probably not in line with your overall personal mission statement, so get rid of it. Clean up the content that doesn’t fit the professional image you’re trying to project. Once you’ve cleaned everything up, work on a regular strategy to consistently publish high-quality posts, and engage with your growing network. Put some thought behind your strategy, change it when you need to, and stick to timelines.
Pillar 2: Earn credibility & build an audience
Once you get a handle on creating and sharing content that’s in line with your personal mission statement, it’s time to kick it into high-gear. People aren’t going to read, share or engage with your personal brand if it doesn’t feel authentic and if you don’t seem credible. To earn credibility, focus on writing relevant content in respected publications and industry blogs. Also, use data to your advantage and repeat successes. Taking steps to prove your credibility is one part of building a loyal audience. You also need to expand your network and connect with gatekeepers, social influencers and strategic publications in your industry. Not only will you learn about your industry from these people, you will also learn more about your target audience. If they eventually endorse you that will also help you earn more credibility at large.
Pillar 3: Target growth opportunities
As your personal brand grows, so will your professional and personal opportunities. As these opportunities present themselves – keep your personal mission statement in mind. If they don’t align, then it’s not worth your time. Also, remember, that in some cases these things won’t just fall in your lap, they’ll require you to take steps to make it happen. New opportunities could include speaking gigs, jobs, partnerships, blog exchanges, interviews, mentorships, promotions and much more.
Your personal mission statement is central to your personal and professional growth. It reminds you of what is important to you and empowers you to prioritize your time accordingly. Identifying a clear personal statement that resonates with you is also a critical part of developing a strong personal brand online. Whether you’re having trouble finding the time, motivation or direction to figure out how to write a personal mission statement and build your brand we can help. Get in touch with one of our Reputation Advisors today to discuss how BrandYourself can help you. Give us a call at (646)-863-8226 or schedule a free consultation.