In this two-part blog post, I will describe how to brainstorm and clarify the areas in your life, how to consider the bigger picture and how to bring this information together to write a personal mission statement.
Although a mission statement is traditionally regarded as a statement of purpose by company, organisation or sporting body, personal mission statements are recommended by a number of productivity gurus, including Stephen Covey, author of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
Personal mission statements take some time to develop and they have to be reviewed regularly. The process of creating one helps you consider your purpose in life and how you are going to achieve your goals.
Here are a few simple tips that should make the process easier.
Brainstorm Your Life
Use a brainstorming technique like mind maps to consider all the areas in your life.
Typically, these areas include:
You should also consider each of the roles in your life. Typically these include: spouse, parent, employer/employee, student, brother/sister and so on.
Each of these areas and roles can subsequently be expanded upon in terms of your aims, beliefs, principles, progress to date, causes of concern etc.
Draw on External Resources
This is a good time to gather quotes, information and lessons from books you read, talks you attended, places you visited, music or art that inspired you and people you met.
Consider the roles models in your professional and personal lives and what you can learn from them.
It may be useful to read their biographies and examine what drove or drives your role models and how they overcame personal and professional difficulties.
You may also benefit from thinking about organisations or people you don't want to emulate and how you can avoid making their mistakes.
There's as much to learn from failure as from success. You may also find it helpful to read the mission statements of others and see how or if they relate to your life.
If you're stuck, Martin Luther King's “I Have a Dream” speech is (arguably) one of the most famous personal mission statements there is.
Ask Clarifying Questions
You may benefit from asking yourself questions about each of your roles and areas of responsibility. Sample questions include:
- When am I at my best/worst as parent/employer/employee/spouse etc?
- Where do my natural talents lie?
- What's important to me in my work/home life?
- What energises me and what makes me feel apathetic? What is my passion?
- Who inspires me in my work, relationships etc? Are there role models I can emulate?
- What values guide my work/my studies/my relationships?
- Are there core values or principles I am not prepared to violate? These may include professional charters that you sign up to.
- How do these values relate to my day-to-day life?
- What mistakes have I made in my life so far, and how I can avoid repeating them?
Again, you can expand on these questions using a mind map. You could write a personal question and answer document, make bullet points, or write notes on paper.
In part two, I will describe how to consider the big picture and bring all this information together to create a personal mission statement.
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