Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mission Statements

Having spent many years studying business, the importance of a strong mission statement is not to be underestimated when it comes to a company’s (or any organization’s) success (for-profit or otherwise). But it turns out that mission statements are a powerful tool for us as individuals as well. A personal mission statement is a great way to focus your reason for getting up each day into a single, succinct blurb.

So what’s the purpose of a mission statement? It can be your mantra when you need an extra boost to pursue your goals and a reminder of what’s most important in your life. It can also serve as a compass for decision making – helping you to evaluate options in terms of whether or not they will support your self-defined ultimate purpose on this earth. Perhaps most importantly of all, the process of crafting your mission statement can be an empowering experience; opening up your imagination and your heart to possibilities you may have dismissed as na├»ve or improbable in the past.

So what makes a good mission statement? Any business student will tell you it’s a short (ideally a sentence in length)  articulation of your reason for operation that is specific enough to be measured but broad enough to ensure you have a purpose for many years to come. If you need a little inspiration, Google your favorite businesses and check out their mission or vision statements. In fact, a particularly good example is Google itself. You can find this text on Google’s Corporate website.

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

Notice that Google hasn't pigeon-holed itself, the organization is able to keep this mission even as technology changes. Once you have some solid examples to get your wheels spinning, block out a little time for yourself to do some soul searching. If you’re having trouble narrowing down what your purpose is for your mission statements, here are a few questions to get you started:

  •    What topics get you excited, agitated, bring out the rawist emotions in you, or maybe even get you angry when they arise in conversation?  What is it you’re so passionate about that gives rise to these emotions?
  •    What activities do you look forward to the most? Which of these activities  give you a sense of purpose and fulfillment?
  •    When was the last time you woke up and bounded out of bed, ready to take on the day? What did you do that day that gave rise to this feeling?

For some of us, crafting a personal mission statement that sticks may be a simple task, while for others it may take some serious reflection. Maybe you are already living your mission statement each and every day, and that’s wonderful! Or maybe your true purpose is to create a more peaceful planet as an animal activist and you work in a puppy mill – that’s ok too!  You’ve now taken the first step to reaigning your actions with your life purpose.

My own mission statement is a work in progress, but the groundwork is in place. Here’s what I have so far: To help others discover health, happiness, compassion for all beings, and a curiosity about the world around them. While I still have some fine tuning to do, I think this statement really sums up what I feel my purpose is.  

Tune in next time for some more tips for creating YOUR mission statement and making it a reality!

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