Today, I urge you to write a mission statement. Actually, I am making an argument that you need both, a mission statement and a vision statement. If you’re a small business owner, a freelancer, a part-time moonlighter, have a “regular” job, or even if you’re unemployed — okay, EVERYONE — you can benefit from taking some time to craft these two statements. Let me explain.
Traditionally, a mission statement is a tool a business or organization uses as part of the business planning process to outline the purpose of their existence. A vision statement does the same, but the focus is on identifying the values held by the organization that drive actions.
As an individual, you already have goals, a purpose for doing what you do and values that lead you through life, but formalizing these items into tangible black and white statements can accomplish a number of things. Here are just a few of the ways a mission statement and a vision statement can polish your presentation and help you achieve more, personally and professionally.
Synthesize Who You Are
Mission and vision statements include the most important information about you, what you do and the values that guide you in your life and work. Well-crafted statements that outline these details can not only be used as part of your business or career planning, but they can also be the foundation of your elevator pitch, a recurring theme in your marketing activities and a guide for you as you make decisions.
Give You Focus
While mission and vision statements aren’t entirely goal-driven, both can be a tool used in your goal planning process. Since these statements take vital information about you and boil it down into just a few sentences, you can return to them over time and reiterate your purpose and refocus on what you set out to accomplish when you get pulled off track. Plus, having clarity on why you are doing what you do can give you a purpose and motivation to keep going.
Ease the Decision-Making Process
In some situations, solid mission and vision statements can zero you in on the right decision for you. It’s not always quite that easy, but even with more difficult decisions, your statements can act as a reminder about what’s important to you, and at a minimum, direct you to questions you need to ask yourself before making a choice.
Hold You Accountable
Just as your mission and vision statements can help you make decisions that honor your goals and purpose, they can also hold you accountable when you go in the wrong direction. When you look back at your statements and realize you went off-track, you may decide to take some time to figure out what went wrong, or perhaps you will realize it’s time to update your statements to reflect a new direction in your life and work.
It’s important to remember that both a mission statement and a vision statement are tools that should grow and change as your work, life and goals change. Once you have them written, return to them regularly to measure their accuracy and meaning. If you have a standard process for setting and checking in on your goals, it would make sense to analyze your mission and vision statements at the same time to keep all of your planning and actions connected and in sync.
To get started, review these resources for writing a mission statement and a vision statement:
- Mission Statements & Vision Statements, MindTools.com
- How to Write a Mission Statement, Entrepreneur.com
- Create Your Personal Vision Statement, About.com
Image credit: 4seasons