Why a Personal Mission Statement is Key to Career Bliss
Most companies today wouldn’t think of operating without a thoughtfully crafted mission statement. But when it comes to running our own careers, too many of us skip this crucial step.
A mission statement is a declaration of the organization’s core purpose, usually encompassing what the business does, how it does it and who it does it for. It’s brief, focused, and serves as a guiding principle for the company’s employees.
For example, Amazon’s mission statement is: “To be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.” Sounds about right, doesn’t it?
Making it personal
You can probably see why writing a personal mission statement would be valuable for individuals, as well. Whether you’re actively job-searching, thinking about changing careers, or launching a business of your own, having a mission statement will make it easier to sell yourself to potential employers or investors.
But probably the most powerful thing about having a personal mission statement is how it sets the foundation for all your actions and keeps you on the right path when it comes to career and life choices. In my last post, I talked about how to be happy at work by achieving alignment—essentially, identifying your core purpose so that your career reflects who you are and what’s really important to you. Your personal mission statement is the articulation of that core purpose.
Think before you write
For most of us, writing a personal mission statement means spending a fair amount of time soul-searching before we ever pick up a pen. What are your values and motivators? What are your strengths and interests? Your goal is to find the connection point between your talents and interests, and your mission statement should pull those pieces together.
My personal mission statement is: “I am the spark that ignites the light within others, empowering others to see and understand their amazing impact in the world.” As a career strategist and coach, I honor my core purpose every day—by working one-on-one with our incredible SoFi members, helping them discover their own purpose so they can make career choices that ultimately bring them happiness.
Here are a few more personal mission statement examples for inspiration:
Oprah Winfrey, Mogul: “To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be.”
Amanda Steinberg, Founder of DailyWorth.com: “To use my gifts of intelligence, charisma, and serial optimism to cultivate the self-worth and net-worth of women around the world.”
Jerry Seinfeld, Comedian: “Being a stand-up is my mission in life; it’s my passion. My ongoing goal is to simply be funny, on my own, in front of a roomful of strangers.
Personal mission statement vs. elevator pitch
You may have already crafted an elevator statement covering who you are, what you want to do and why this person standing in a hypothetical elevator with you would want to hire you or invest in your startup. If you have an elevator pitch, should you also write a personal mission statement—and if so, how do the two differ?
In a nutshell, they are different, and both are valuable. An elevator statement is really a sales pitch with you as the product. If someone asks, “Who are you?” or “What do you do?”, you’re ready with a 30-second synopsis of how your particular skillset could benefit that person. It may encompass what you’re passionate about or how the opportunity aligns with your purpose in life, but only if those details support the goal of selling you.
A personal mission statement is usually more of an internal compass vs. an external “pitch.” You can certainly share it with others, but it’s probably too high level to effectively land you a job. For example, if I was searching for a position like my current one, my elevator pitch might be something like “I’m a career and life coach. I help smart, talented people build and grow happy careers through finding their life’s purpose.” It’s not far off from my personal mission statement, but it’s a bit more tangible in terms of “what I do” and “who I do it for.”
Ready, set, write!
At some point, there’s nothing left to do but put pen to paper and write something. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and it can certainly change over time. But the sooner you make your personal mission statement a central factor in your career (and life), the easier it will be to focus on the things that truly matter to you.
Want more? Join me in my next webinar that will go deeper into writing a personal mission statement as well as tools and strategies that can help you become more “aligned.” Sign up here.
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