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.

Recommended Reading: Want To Be Happy At Work? Here’s How To Find Purpose.

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.”

You May Also Like: 3 Secrets To Career Success

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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9 thoughts on “Why a Personal Mission Statement is Key to Career Bliss

  1. Krystal Holley says:

    Perfect timing! Would love a recorded viewing of this webinar if possible.


    Krystal H.

  2. Hi Krystal – You can find the recording (along with lots of our other Career Strategy webinars) on our Youtube channel.

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  4. YOU SHOULD TELL THIS TO THE US CONGRESS >>> 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.

  5. Peter Christian Pehrson says:

    I think this is uninformed , weak, and inexperience career advice, Ms. Kim. I think you mean well, but It’s yet another reason sharp, successful Europeans are so critical of us Americans. We have, as Edward Tufte (edwardtufte.com, and I have no affiliation with him) terms it a “rush to conclude.” Rather than get to know someone, we want a 30-second “elevator speech” which instantly categorizes us for our interlocutor. It’s a barrier to questioning, exploring, probing. In my corporate personnel career, I have interviewed and hired hundreds of people. Never once have I said, “Hurry up and get to the point” which in my book is extremely rude and uncivil. It says to the interviewee, “My time is vastly more important than yours and you’re just another block of warm meat in my office.” Rather, I’ve asked interviewees to slow down and show parts of themselves they may be uncomfortable displaying, but can tell me why they might be the best candidate for the job. My hire rate has always been around 95% and I continue to track my hires to this day. If they are not in the position for which I interviewed them, they are working for the same company. A difference in style between us perhaps, Ms. Kim, but I like to think my approach is a bit more caring and human. Good luck to you.

  6. lack brown says:

    I need this

  7. Barbara Foster says:

    Bravo, Mr. Pehrson-treat people like individuals and not robots.

  8. Pingback: Mission Statement | A Portrait of the Scientist as a Young Woman

  9. Kelli McLauchlin says:

    Such a helpful article. Thank you for the examples as well as keeping it the right length. Cheers!

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