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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

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.

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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Published on August 3, 2020

How to Be Organized: The Ultimate Guide to Get (and Stay) Clutter Free

How to Be Organized: The Ultimate Guide to Get (and Stay) Clutter Free

With all the inputs, information, and clutter that come into our lives today, just staying on top of it all creates so much stress and frustration, and it can often lead to feelings of helplessness and anxiety. Most of the time, you simply don’t know where to start when you want to learn how to be organized.

However, it is, in fact, something that can be learned.

By developing a few strategies and methods, and having a system in place that quickly deals with all these inputs, you can finally get control of your clutter and, more importantly, stay clutter-free.

Here are a few rules that can help you on your path to a clutter-free life.

1. Don’t Use Your Computer’s Desktop for Storage

Your computer’s desktop was not designed to store your files. Your desktop should be clean and file free. Not only does a cluttered desktop slow down your computer, but it also makes finding things painfully slow.

Instead, as you’re learning how to be organized, create a basic folder structure inside your documents folder. Now, this needs to work for you, but try not to make things too complicated. What you can do is think about the kind of files you will need to keep, and categorize them between your personal and professional ones. For me, I have two basics folders inside my documents folder, one called “work” and one called “personal.” Inside of these, I have subfolders organized according to my different roles or categories.

It’s simple, and it allows me to quickly find what I need when I need it.

Now, I do understand that during the day, when you are doing your work, you may need quick access to certain images and files, and it’s okay to hold them on your desktop temporarily. However, make it a habit to clear your desktop at the end of each day as part of your closing down routine (more on that later).

2. Learn to Use Your Computer’s Search Features

It surprises me how few people know how to find documents on their computer with a simple keyboard shortcut, but it’s one of the easiest things to do as you’re learning how to be organized. On a Mac, for instance, CMD + Space bar brings up the spotlight search, and you can type in a date, a file type, a keyword, or a file name.

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On a Windows computer[1], open the start button, and begin typing the file you are looking for.

In both cases, you do not need the exact name of the file. Just type a few letters, and within seconds you have the file you need.

When you learn how useful your computer’s search features are, you will be much more comfortable removing all those files scattered around on your desktop and putting them in an appropriate folder on your computer.

3. Keep Your Desk Clear of Clutter

Just as with your computer’s desktop, your desk’s desktop should also be file and clutter-free. Use your drawers for those paper documents that habitually hang around on your desk—a cluttered desk does not encourage inspired work[2].

Also, take a look at your workspace, and ask if what is on your desk is necessary. Often, we have stuff on our desks that serve no meaning and has no sentimental value to us. It’s just something we have always had on our desk. If you don’t need it or it does not inspire you, remove it.

And while we are talking about your desk, make a decision this week that you will go through your desk drawers and clear out all the old pens, cups, and other debris that has accumulated over the years. Trust me on this one, the act of cleaning out your drawers and removing all the clutter on your desk will give you renewed energy and ignite a lot of creativity that has been pushed into the background. You will love working at your desk again.

Pictures of your loved ones and a few inspiring mementos are fine. Just don’t go crazy with them. Keep them to a minimum.

4. Create a Closing Down Routine

This is such a great way to make sure you keep your files and other stuff organized, so make it an essential skill to adopt when learning how to be organized. Give yourself ten to twenty minutes before you finish your work for the day to clean up your desktops.

Move your files to their rightful place, and delete anything you no longer need. I often accumulate a lot of screenshots throughout the day, and if I am not removing them, at the end of the day, they soon start building up.

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Before I shut my computer down for the day, I clean these up, delete the screenshots if I no longer need them, and leave my desktop file free. It’s a beautiful way to start the next day with a clean desk and a clean computer desktop.

5. Incorporate a To-Do List Manager Into Your Life

Writing your to-dos and commitments down on post-it notes just encourages clutter. Sure, it might seem like a great idea to stick these to your computer so you don’t forget things, but over time you become numb to them. They just become a part of your desk, and you ignore them.

Remove them. Take your tasks and commitments, and put them into a to-do list manager. Whether you use Windows or Mac, they both come with to-do list managers. Make good use of them.

You do not need to create an elaborate to-do list structure. All you need is an inbox for quick entry and the ability to date tasks for when they need doing.

I use a simple structure in my to-do list manager. I use a system I call the Time Sector System[3] where I create six folders:

  • Inbox
  • This week
  • Next week
  • This month
  • Next month
  • Long-term / On-hold

Then, whatever I collect, the only decision I need to make is: when am I going to do the task? I can then drop the task into its relevant folder.

One of the biggest causes of clutter on desks (and in bags) are all those little bits of paper you use to write down critical information and telephone numbers or email addresses. When these accumulate, they are easy to lose, and you waste a lot of time searching for them.

Use your digital devices for these. You can take a photo of a written note. You can quickly add a telephone number or an email address into your to-do list manager (or notes app), and if you have syncing set up between your devices, you will have access to the information on all your devices. And what’s more, it will be searchable.

6. Set a Weekly Time to Declutter Your Devices

This is an area that can quickly creep up on you, so take time to develop this habit as you’re learning how to be organized. Taking photos and videos on our phones is too easy these days. We take a picture, and we just leave it in our photo album.

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Over time we end up with thousands of photos in our electronic photo albums that are not worth keeping. I spend around ten minutes on the weekend (usually Sunday evening) deleting all the images I no longer want to keep. It keeps my digital storage needs down—which saves money—and it means all the photos in my photo album are photos I want to keep.

I do the same with my downloads folder. We often download a PDF intending to read it later, and then we completely forget about it. As time passes, we end up with hundreds of PDFs and other documents we are no longer interested in or no longer need. Delete them or file them. Just don’t leave them in your downloads folder.

If you want to stay clutter-free, this habit will reward you. Doing this weekly means you will spend around thirty minutes each week cleaning up and filing. Not doing so means you will end up having to spend a day or two just dealing everything, which will leave you feeling like you’ve wasted those days.

7. Do an Annual Clean-up

One of my annual rituals is to clean out all my folders and notes. I take a day off from work and spend the day going through everything on my computer and delete anything that no longer has any value.

I choose the winter holidays for this. Not only is it the end of the year, but many companies are on holiday, and things are generally quieter.

I go through all my work and personal folders and clean out anything I no longer need. I also archive a lot of files onto an external hard drive—just in case they are needed later.

It’s also a good time to clear out your email folders, too. Email can become a bottomless pit of emails you no longer need. Go through and purge those. You will feel so much better when you do this.

With email, you can also declare yourself email bankrupt and just delete everything in your inbox (or if you are not comfortable doing that, declare a ‘soft’ email bankruptcy and you move all your emails into a folder called “Old Inbox”).

Doing this might seem like a radical step, but it is incredible how much clearer you become. You get to see what you have been holding on to, what you may have missed, and you find yourself with a lot more space ready for the year to come.

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8. Do a Little, Often

I learned this a long time ago. Many years ago, I tried becoming a salesperson. I failed miserably at it, but during my training, I shadowed an experienced colleague. On one of the days I was shadowing her, she had to complete and file her expense report for the month.

I vividly remember her opening the glovebox of her car and pulling out handfuls of receipts and then painstakingly adding them to an expense report—we did things on paper in those days. Four hours later, she finally finished the report.

I remember at the time thinking this was not a great way to do this. When I got my chance to go solo, I began stopping my car in a car-park on the way home and added that day’s expenses to my expenses sheet. It took me a few minutes, and as I was doing it on the same day, I remembered exactly what each receipt was for.

When you’re learning how to be organized, you can use this principle for almost everything. Clear out your email inbox every day, delete screenshots from your desktop and empty your bag at the end of the week, and throw away anything you no longer need.

Doing a little often makes things so much easier, and you do not have that mental backlog creeping up on you where you have that nagging feeling in the back of your mind telling you you have to do something—only you can’t remember what that something is.

Final Thoughts

If it doesn’t come naturally to you, learning how to be organized can take time and effort, but it’s ultimately worth it. Becoming clutter-free helps you in so many ways. You have a more pleasant work environment, and de-cluttering your environment also helps to declutter your mind. On top of that, finding stuff is easier, and that means your overall productivity goes through the roof. Choose the strategies above that will help you in your daily life and start getting your life organized today.

More Tips on How to Be Organized

Featured photo credit: Jeff Sheldon via unsplash.com

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