Joe Johnson, Ph.D.
Entrepreneur. Investor. Startup Expert.
A mission statement can provide varying degrees of insight into an organization’s values and aims. Those focused on clean energy will often point out that conservation is a key component of their endeavor, while some businesses choose to highlight their most dearly-held tenets in their mission statement. For example, the TOMS mission statement simply reads “Improving lives.” Their social entrepreneurship model compels them to support communities in need.
I believe that those of us for whom faith is a core value can positively impact our businesses by integrating those faith-based values with our business ethics. Not only can it help us to better integrate our personas with our work, but it can create a blueprint for how to deal with a range of business situations. This can also work for those who don’t identify with traditional religious faith, but who live their lives by a particular moral code. Blending the values we hold dear into our work life can lead to both fulfillment and success – when done properly. By creating a personal mission statement and encoding in it our most core values, we can better prepare ourselves to live a meaningful life.
Why You Need a Personal Mission Statement
Just as with a business mission statement, a personal mission statement provides insight into who you are, what’s fundamentally important to you, and the goals you plan to accomplish. Despite the benefits of having such a statement, it’s not an easy task to actually create one. To begin, let’s discuss why it’s worthwhile to take the time necessary to craft a personal mission statement.
A well-thought out personal mission statement can help to clarify your goals. Rather than focusing on vague expressions, you should consider actionable ways to achieve specific goals. With those goals expressed, you may find it easier to maintain your drive.
Actionable goals can provide a yardstick by which to measure your success and can serve to inspire continued efforts to succeed. Also, the very process of having determined and expressed those goals (and the motivations behind them) can aid in identifying both positive and negative influences on the road to success. It can provide a framework within which to reflect upon various aspects of life and business to help assess the degree to which those aspects are beneficial.
Perhaps most importantly, a personal mission statement can function as a self-check and enable you to act in a way consistent with your beliefs. Having given consideration to core values can aid in realizing when one has strayed from them and can help in supplying the moral fortitude to live a meaningful life – whether at the office, engaged in community work, or at home.
How to Craft Your Personal Mission Statement
To begin crafting your personal mission statement, take some time for brainstorming. Don’t shortcut this process, as it’s the basis for everything that follows; plan to spend an hour or more in quiet contemplation.
At you’re reflecting, keep your preferred writing instrument at hand. Some people are more comfortable with a laptop while others still find that a pen allows for more organic ideation. If you don’t already have a strong opinion in this area, you might find it useful to try both and see which produces the best results for you.
The first question to consider is: who are you? Do you identify as a Christian, a parent, an entrepreneur, etc.? List as many different identifiers as seem to fit.
Next, think of your life goals and list all that come to mind. For example, just off the top of my head, I know that several goals are important to me every day: to be a good Christian, to be a good husband, and to be a good father. On top of that, I strive to be a fair businessman, to identify opportunities for success, etc. Each of us may have a wide range of goals depending on the various roles that we fill.
Our values can help to guide us as we face tough decisions. Which values do you prioritize? Write down those most important to you. Some common core values include:
Now that you’ve recorded an initial list, take a moment to review it. Are your core values reflected in your stated goals? Think of how your values and goals can work together. For example, I previously stated a personal goal of being a fair businessman. Relevant values include honesty, integrity, and empathy, et al.
Finally, you should consider your primary motivation for success. For those with a strong faith, it may be a love of God and family. Others may be driven by thoughts of social welfare, care for the environment, or a concern for the future.
Generally, mission statements tend to be short, however, they should be compelling and provide a clear answer to the question of “why?”
Having considered these different aspects of crafting a personal mission statement, you should now edit the varied components into a line or two that encapsulates your life goals and core values.
Using my own goals and values, I might say that my personal mission statement is to be a fair, honest businessman who leads by example, listens to others, and acts with integrity in all that I do.
Consider these possible mission statements as you craft yours:
- Be compassionate with everyone I encounter as an example of Jesus’ love.
- Use my strong leadership skills to encourage growth and self-development in my team.
- Create strong relationships with those closest to me.
- Use my skills to give back to the community.
How Your Mission Can Better Your Workplace
As an entrepreneur, you have a lot of control over how you run your business. Running it such that it aligns with your personal mission can help to ensure that you’re gratified with the work and that you find fulfillment. Additionally, aligning your core values can help to foster success and create an environment in which others feel as though they’re also able to succeed.
Core values are not the exclusive purview of any one religion. Many values are shared across religions and, while we may hold some more dear than others, creating a workplace that is respectful of all and that works toward the greater good can benefit everyone involved.
If you’re ready to re-craft your business mission statement to better highlight the core values most important to you, great. If not, it’s still possible to focus on your personal mission while working. You are always the central and most most vital component of your personal mission statement. By acting in accordance with your beliefs and maintaining a focus on your goals, you can create a positive environment that’s both productive and contagious. Setting this example for your employees can help to create a shared culture and to drive ongoing productivity.
Creating an environment where your employees feel valued as people, where they feel they can be their whole selves, can help you to reach your goals and to encourage your employees to strive for their own.
Benefits of a Community Outside of Work
Beyond the office doors and any mission statement, having a community outside of work that shares your beliefs can help to bolster your spirits and to provide you with the energy you need to move your work forward.
For me, that community is my church. Others may find the support they need in mentoring relationships or through volunteering. However it is that you feel most supported and encouraged, it’s important to nurture those bonds and to carry them with you through the work week.
When you feel prepared to face the world because of your faith, you can better handle any of the challenges that life throws at you. A difficult client can be managed in accordance with both your personal and professional beliefs, so long as you understand the positive ways in which the two can interact with each other. Additionally, focusing on your core values can help you to make better decisions rooted in a deeper understanding of who you are and of what you desire from life.
While there are certainly lines that should be drawn between the personal and professional environments, crafting a mission statement as an aid to identifying your life goals is a useful tool that can allow you to build an important bridge between the two.
About the Author
Dr. Joe Johnson is an entrepreneur, investor, and startup expert. He is the founder and principal of GoodField Investments and the GoodField Foundation (www.GoodField.com).
Joe has a Ph.D. in Entrepreneurial Leadership and an MBA. He is the author of the upcoming book on The Science of Why Most Entrepreneurs Fail and Some Succeed.
Most importantly, he is the incredibly blessed husband of one amazing wife and father of six wonderful children. He resides in Bradenton, Florida. For more information on Dr. Johnson and his work, go to www.JoeJohnson.com.