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Why And How To Make A Mission Statement For Your Life

Why And How To Make A Mission Statement For Your Life
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Confusing, isn’t it?

Everyone has a different view about the careers you should follow, the relationships you should form and the dreams you should pursue.

If you’re stuck, a personal mission statement can help.

Mission statements are not just for companies, businesses and organizations.

A personal mission statement can help you make decisions, avoid repeating mistakes and figure out your purpose in life.

Stephen R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, was one of the biggest advocates of personal mission statements.

He wrote:

Effective people are guided by their own missions and manage their lives according to principles. Ineffective people follow other people’s agendas and manage their lives around pressing matters.

When I was unemployed, I used my personal mission statement to help me decide on jobs to apply for, people to ask for help and college courses to take.

You can create your personal mission statement in five simple steps.

Let’s get started.

Step 1: Brainstorm what’s important to you

Before you write your personal mission statement, organize your life into key areas using a mind-map.

Typically, these areas include:

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• Relationships

• Career

• Health

• Religion

• Finances

• Education

• Family

You should also consider each of the roles in your life. Normally, these include: spouse, parent, employer/employee, student, brother/sister and so on.

Elaborate on these areas in terms of your aims, beliefs, principles, progress to date, causes of concern etc.

Step 2: Draw on External Resources

Next, consider what you value in the world.

Think about leaders who inspire you, people you’d like to emulate and those you’d rather avoid. Then, consider how you can apply their teachings, lessons and mistakes to your life.

You can learn as much from failure as you can from success.

If you need inspiration, Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech is one of the most famous personal mission statements there is.

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For this step, I gathered quotes, information and lessons from books I read, talks I attended and places I visited.

This helped me think about the kind of writer I want to become and how I can use the written word to improve my personal and professional life.

Step 3: Ask Yourself Hard Questions

Asking and answering tough questions will help you create a more honest mission statement.

Ask yourself questions like:

• When am I at my best and worst as parent, employer, employee, or spouse?

• Where do my natural talents lie?

• What’s important to me personally and professionally?

• What gets me up in the morning and what makes me want to stay in bed?

• What does my perfect day look like?

• What values guide my work, studies and relationships?

• What principles am I not prepared to violate? This may include professional charters that you’ve signed up to.

• What mistakes have I made so far in life, and how I can avoid repeating them?

Again, a mind-map can help you expand on each of your questions and answers.

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Or you could write a personal question and answer document, make bullet points, or write notes on paper.

I asked and answered these questions in a personal journal that I keep on my computer.

Step 4: Look the Big Picture

Ah, the big picture.

This is what the mission statement is all about.

If you want to see your bigger picture, consider where’d like to be and who you want to become over the next 12 months, five years and even ten years.

You could write:

  • a list of places you’d like to visit
  • a college course you’re going to take
  • dreams you hope to realize
  • a product you want to create
  • a book you need to write

Consider what you’d do if you had unlimited time, money and resources.

Think big.

Remember, each of these big picture items will impact on other areas of your life. So try and make connections between them and see if they support or detract from each other.

For example, several years ago I went back to college part-time at night. My studies time away from family life, and it used up some financial resources.

At the time, college was in keeping with my mission statement me as I knew (hoped!) it would enhance my career and give me free time later on.

Step 5: Bring It All Together

We’re almost there.

Gather all your information in a permanent document, place or source that you’re going to review regularly.

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Consolidate your roles, areas of responsibility, values, goals and dreams into several key themes or principles.

If you’re stuck, write a few lines about what you’d like people to say about your life on your 100th birthday party or at your funeral.

The final result could be a mantra or motto that you repeat. It could be a picture or a logo, or it could be longer piece of work that you read every week or month.

If you’re using words, it should start with verbs or statements like:

• “I believe…”

• “I am happiest when…”

• “I am at my best when…”

You may choose to put your mission statement on your wall or keep it somewhere private but accessible. You could also expand this mission statement and develop one for your family.

And Finally…

Writing a mission statement involves deep soul searching, and this takes time.

If it wasn’t hard work, it wouldn’t be worth doing. If you still need help, use this online mission statement builder developed by Franklin Covey.

Whatever your approach, the benefits of a mission statement are tremendous.

In times of crisis or indecision, your mission statement will become a North Star.

It will guide you from the dark.

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Do you have a question about creating a personal mission statement? Please let me know in the comments section below.

Featured photo credit: Paul Stang via flic.kr

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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