Years ago, I attended a three day “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” training class. As an engineer, I was never very excited about soft skills classes, but I had read the book and really connected with it and was looking for personal and professional development.
One of the main parts of the training was developing a personal mission statement. A large portion of the training class was geared towards developing this. We spent a lot of time on introspection – thinking about values, writing out life roles and how we want to be seen in these roles, writing our eulogy (a little creepy, but does make you think about how you want to be thought of at the end of your life), and reviewing pre-work which included 360 reviews from co-workers.
This was my introduction into writing a personal mission statement and surprisingly, I loved it. I had never spent that much uninterrupted time in introspection. I thought about my professional life and my personal life and began to understand their interconnection. Following that training class, I wrote my first personal mission statement.
Since that class about 15 years ago, I spend a day every fall (I picked the fall as my kids are back in school, so it feels more like a new start to me than the actual new year) recreating that training or as years have gone by making minor modifications. The idea of having one day with no email, no phone calls, no interruptions to contemplate major life intentions, my values, and priorities became something I look forward to. It gives me the opportunity to think about what I accomplished over the past year and what areas I wanted to improve upon, and what direction I want my life to be moving in.
I don’t use my previous mission statement as a starting point. I create a fresh mission statement every year. Many years, they end up nearly identical as my life mission rarely varies. I generally keep them short, but this year my mission statement is a little longer. If you’ve never taken the time to develop a personal mission statement, I’d highly encourage it. It has provided focus and direction in my life. It’s my compass.
There are many resources on the internet to help get started on writing mission statements. If you don’t have a personal mission statement, I highly encourage you to think about creating one.
Here is this year’s mission statement: