A personal mission statement describes who you are. In comparison, a personal vision statement describes where you want to go with an aspect of your life. You might have separate statements that guide your relationship to yourself, your spouse, children, family, friends, work, and more. Both personal mission statements and personal vision statements are integral parts of managing your career because to have work you truly love that work has to align with who you are and your vital relationships. Managing your career is just one part of your life, albeit an important part, but certainly not the only or most important part. That said, to align your career with the other aspects of your life, you need to define those other parts in meaningful ways.
Your Life Journey
Lewis Caroll, mathematician and author of Alice’s
Adventures in Wonderland, observed, “If you don’t know where you’re going any road will get you there.” If you’re planning a journey, there are several things you must know.
- Where you are. (Starting point)
- Where you want to go. (Destination)
- The relationship between the two. (Road)
What Personal Mission and Vision Statements are not:
While you want to be succinct and focused, I wouldn’t recommend narrowing your statements to the point they are simply mottos that cannot inform your decisions.
For example, while “Live a life that demands an explanation,” sounds pithy, but it doesn’t offer much insight or guidance.
Start with Reflection
In a previous blog on creating self-awareness, we discussed ways to develop personal and professional introspection. The next step in managing your career is to use that knowledge and distill it into a guiding framework to help you make some big decisions and many smaller ones based on what you know about yourself and your calling.
At AccompliTrack, when we talk of mission and vision, we’re really talking about the first two elements of a succinct personal playbook that allows you to quickly determine whether opportunities, strategies, and tactics are appropriate for your life. As the graphic at the top of the page illustrates, mission and vision is the gear that drives (or should drive) all of our plans, both the long-term (strategic) goals and the near-term (tactical) objectives. We will discuss those other two elements in our next blog. The graphic below outlines their relationship.
The Elements of Great Statements
Personal Mission and Vision Statements share some key attributes. They should be short enough that they are easy to memorize. A well-written statement should reinvigorate your purpose and inspire you. Additionally, it will be memorable to those you share them with. Your statements should balance realism with a desire to push beyond your limitations. Most importantly, each should reflect your values. That said, neither has to be permanent. As you live life and progress through the career management cycle you may find that you need to re-calibrate either or both.
The Personal Mission Statement
It may seem ridiculous to say that you must know where you are as a starting point. You might respond, “I’m right here, of course.” However, that’s the point, many people don’t know where they are, or better said, who they are. So the first step in defining a mission statement is to say who you are in a succinct way.
Thinking back on your Self-Assessment work through some of these questions:
- What is your purpose?
- What do you know about who you are that informs your view of your purpose?
- If you could do anything, what would it be?
- What are your core values?
- What has ultimate worth?
- How does this knowledge inform various areas of your life?
- What gives you satisfaction?
- Who or what inspires and motivates you?
To a lesser degree, you may want to consider what inspires those important to you, your spouse, family, and closest friends. (The point here is those you are closest to hopefully share some affinities that can inform you. If what inspires you is radically different than this group, something may be wrong.)
The Personal Vision Statement
Once you have your mission statement, you can start talking about where you want to go. The Vision Statement looks forward into the future to help guide you. Your vision is who you expect to be, or a mental picture of your life, 5 to 20 years from now. From your mission statement, you should already know what matters to you most, where you stand on the important issues, and who you are committed to becoming. Now it’s time to turn the lens on your future.
Questions to ask yourself:
- What are your dreams?
- What could you achieve that no one else has thought of already?
- If you could write your own eulogy or epitaph, what would it say?
- What instantly brings a smile to your face?
- What must you do to feel fulfilled?
- If this were your last day on this earth, what would you regret not doing?
It should clearly state how the future will be better because of you. For example, Disney’s vision statement is fairly simple, but sums up their ideal mission in this world: “To make people happy.”
“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” – Carl Jung
When you’re done with your statements, share them with key people in your life to get their feedback.
Personal Mission Statements and Personal Vision Statements from the Twitterverse
“Find the most Talented People and make the world see them.” – Marion van Happen
“I use comedy to make memories between artworks and people that connect to human creativity across time.” – Chelsea Hogan
“Inspire people to lead lives that are healthier for them and the world.” – Danielle Tergis
“To close the racial wealth gap by creating pathways to access and success.” – Janet Ikpa
“Helping children by getting involved in their lives and inspiring, empowering, and educating others.” – Van Overton
“You exist to delight in God, to the glory of God for the good of all people.” – Paul Martin
“Encourage. Embrace. Expand. Accountability every single day to these 3 words.” – Jen Wilfong
“Living my devotion by acting with loving responsibility towards other people.” – Mike Battershell
“I create a safe, sacred, loving world by accepting and expressing who I AM.” – Ben Wechsler
“Protect the weak, defend the innocent, challenge power, be a voice of hope, give until there’s nothing left.” – Jimmy Duke
My Personal Mission Statement and Personal Vision Statement
As they relate to my professional life my personal mission and vision statements are as follows:
- I use my passion for process improvement to help people and companies achieve their calling.
- I will improve people’s satisfaction in life by helping them align their vocation with their purpose, strengths, and experience.
Have a great Mission or Vision statement? Share it below. I’d love to hear it!