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What is a personal mission statement and 7 things to keep in mind while writing one

When you create the mission statement based on your values, who you want to become and what you want to do, it provides a clear path for your goals, image and self. Only then you start refusing what doesn’t matter and channel your energies correctly.

Last Updated: Dec 09, 2019, 10.52 AM IST
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Discover purpose to grow your pace and find peace.
By Devashish Chakravarty

Ikigai is the Japanese concept that defines “reason for being”. That what gives you a reason to get up in the morning and a reason to enjoy life. It can be said to lie at the common intersection of what the world needs and that you can provide through what you enjoy and are good at, while meeting your personal goals. It results in actions that are not forced but those that allow the maximum possibilities to express and blossom. Finding your purpose or mission helps you get closer to your ikigai. The end of the year is a great time to reflect and revisit your motivations and journey and create your own “personal mission statement”.

1. Why do you need one?
Stephen Covey in his book, The 7 habits of highly successful people, popularised personal mission statements when he spoke about the second habit —“Begin with the end in mind”. Specify a daily/ monthly goal and then take actions to progress on that path. According to Covey, developing a personal mission statement is the most effective way of getting there. When you create the statement based on your values, who you want to become and what you want to do, it provides a clear path for your goals, image and self. Only then you start refusing what doesn’t matter and channel your energies correctly.

2. Purpose vs mission

A company can have a purpose and a mission statement. A purpose deals with why you exist whereas a mission talks about what you do and for whom. For example, Walt Disneys’s personal and company’s purpose was to “make people happy”. Thus the mission is to entertain and inspire people through storytelling and technology in entertainment. As an individual, you can choose to keep either one or combine both into one personal mission statement and it can be for the world or for your own self. Singer and civil rights activist Mary Angelou stated: My mission is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour, and some style.

3. What stories do you tell?
How will you discover your statement? Think about when you speak of your achievements, which stories do you share. Identify words that you use. You will be referring to aptitudes, skills and approaches that got you success and other stuff you are proud of. These offer a window to your personality type. Are you the kind of person who recharges through interactions with people or through solitude? Are you more creative or practical in your approach to problems? You can use a standardised Big Five or a Myers-Briggs (MBTI) online test to better understand your personality and thus your use of energy and time.

4. Memories you relive
If the stories you tell speak about your personality, then the memories you carry help understand your feelings. Which are the happy memories, or the most emotional ones of your life? What are the common themes, feelings or words? These give you an idea of what makes you happy and what impacts you on a regular basis. Any professional path you choose that isn’t aligned to your emotions will be tough to follow.

5. What choices do you make?
Look back on the choices you have made, both material and emotional. Ask yourself questions like, what does best mean for me,what does an ideal friend/ colleague mean, where do I want to see myself five years later? Think about the pattern in your choices. They reflect the core values you stand for and what really matters to you. Based on your understanding, you can chooser happier career roles and responsibilities that are aligned to your values.

6. Frame the statement
Now that you have words that define your personality, what makes you happy and your core values, create your personal mission statement. A simple format that works well is – Action, Whom, What. Keep your statement short and check if it resonates with your stories, dreams and core. Does your statement touch, move and inspire when you dwell on it? Does it lead to simplifying complicated questions? If not, rework it till you find what resonates most.

7. How to use it
A good personal mission statement is a laser-focused version of your principles. It will set boundaries for your behaviour and endeavours and lead you to best outcomes. Connect your new mission statement with different areas of your life and use it as a lens to clarify questions and make decisions easier in a way you are left empowered. You can then share it with people if their participation will support your cause and energy. Revisit your statement yearly. As you grow and accept yourself, your statement will also evolve leading you to your best outcomes in your career and life.

1. Path/Goal

An easy way to reach your expression of purpose is to defi ne your life’s goal and path. Set a lofty target that inspires and motivates you beyond your current limitations. Thus, your personal mission could include one or more goals from your physical, mental, emotional or spiritual domains. Elon Musk’s life is reflected in his words—If something is important enough you should try, even if the probable outcome is failure.

2 Legacy
Imagine yourself on your 90th birthday or people talking about you at your funeral. What do you want them to say? How long will your life inspire others after you are gone? Your legacy relating to your work, family or community can become your mission and thus defi ne your daily actions. Consider Oprah Winfrey—”To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be.”

3 Stand out
Imagine your ideal self. How do you behave, make choices and pursue goals? What is the truth that makes you different from others in your professional, personal or social space? Narrowing down your mission thus, keeps you unique and impacts the world in a way no one else can. Consider Princess Diana: “Using personal fame to raise awareness on humanitarian issues”.

4 Essence
Can you discover the core of your being which is common to the various paths you have taken, your favourite memories and your key achievements? Is that also how other people perceive you? Consider Sir Richard Branson’s statement: “Have fun and learn from mistakes”, which captures the philosophy that is showcased in his entire life.

5 Impact
What impact you want to have in the current phase of your life without having to wait for your obituary to be written? Defi ning your ongoing impact liberates your thinking and creates many paths for success. Like Malala Yousafzai, the young Noble peace laureate’s statement: “I want to serve people. I want every girl, every child to be educated.”

(The author is founder and CEO at Quezx.com and Headhonchos.com)
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(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this column are that of the writer. The facts and opinions expressed here do not reflect the views of www.economictimes.com.)

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