How to write a personal mission statement that guides and motivates you

  • Eloise Skinner is the founder of edtech startup One Typique Day and The Purpose Workshop.
  • She says a personal mission statement can help founders stay focused and motivated in the new year.

What comes to mind when you think of a mission statement?

Many of us might think of corporate websites or self-help books, or the type of tagline you might put in your LinkedIn bio.

But a mission statement can actually be something much more personal, meaningful, and impactful.

What is a mission statement?

In general, a mission statement is a formal summary of values ​​and goals.

Often it captures goals and values ​​that already exist (think of a corporate mission statement like Amazon’s: “To be the most customer-centric company on earth”).

But a mission statement can also be personal and used to explore and establish your principles and ambitions. In this way, it can be a functional and evolving tool for determining where you want to focus your energy.

Why are personal mission statements important for founders?

Aside from personal growth, there are tangible business-related reasons why every founder should have a strong personal mission statement:

  • Launch: As founders, we constantly present our company, whether formally to potential investors or less formally to clients, potential recruits and the media. The pitch is based on passion, conviction and mission. Defining your main mission before jumping into a pitching situation can be fundamental to presenting with confidence.
  • Cultural creation: Whether recruiting employees or seeking investors, you are introducing your company culture to new people. Is it a company with a strong vision or a desire to make an impact? Are you a supporter of certain values ​​and principles? These are corporate issues, but it is up to the founder to express and defend them.
  • Personal Clarity: Finding purpose, meaning, and direction in your life and work tends to be a long process. A personal mission statement is a great foundation to build on and use to inform tough decisions.

How to write your personal mission statement

First, make a list of what you enjoyed the most in your past, what is most important to you now, and what you want in the future. These three areas are a map of your past, present and desired future and the basis for building your mission statement.

Then go through your three lists (past, present, and future) and choose commonalities or consistent themes. Also think about the things that stand out for you as key priorities.

Once you have defined the key aspects, it is time to create your language. Mission statements often work best with assertive, goal-oriented language. To start, use the phrase: “My mission is…”

Here’s an example, using my own statement as the founder of a social impact business:

My mission is to create work that has a lasting social impact and lead a balanced life.

This statement identifies two aspects: social impact and balance. One is outward-focused (doing work that makes a difference) and the other is inward-focused (living a balanced life).

Another example:

My mission is to use my natural abilities as a team leader to encourage positive change.”

This statement focuses on a Founder’s skills and their intent to use them to positively impact others. Although the mission statement itself may seem quite lofty, you should feel free to add more detail or use the statement alongside more specific goal-setting exercises.

Don’t be surprised if your statement reveals values ​​and priorities that aren’t directly reflected in your day-to-day work as a founder or entrepreneur. In these cases, it’s worth revisiting your company’s mission to see where the gaps show up and ask yourself how you can align the company’s direction more with your own.

Your personal mission statement will have the most impact if you refine it and revise it regularly. Try to revisit the statement every few months (or even every year, if that’s more convenient for you) to incorporate changes and new priorities.

Eloise Skinner is an entrepreneur, author and teacher working in the field of education and social impact. She is the founder of The Purpose Workshop, a social impact consultancy, and One Typique Day, an edtech startup.

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