Think mission statements are just for corporations and big companies? Think again, they can be one of your best tools for reaching your goals and finding success.
A personal mission statement helps you define your direction and guides your decision-making so you no longer wonder what the best choice is for you. Streamlining your decision-making process is one of the most powerful steps you can take to direct your energy where you need it to be instead of wasting it where you don’t.
Writing may feel a bit daunting at first, and you might be a bit self-conscious about putting your thoughts and the things you want down on paper. It can feel a bit concrete.
But it isn’t hard to write one if you know the right questions to ask yourself and grasp how to structure those answers to your benefit.
In this article we’ll:
- Explain what a personal mission statement is
- Clarify why you’d want to use a personal mission statement
- Show you where can you use a one
- Give a few examples of some famous personal mission statements
- Demystify how you can write one for yourself
- And as a bonus, we’re including 3 sure-fire templates you can use to write your own personal mission statement, AND we’re throwing in a few examples for different places you might use one!
A personal mission statement is a small but extremely powerful part of your career development process. For help with this and any other parts of that process use our career counseling service.
We’ve helped 1000+ people succeed in their job search, prep for interviews, negotiate the details of their contracts, and hit their career targets. If you have questions on any part of your career development or steps to success, our experts are ready to give you advice and help you strategize your next move.
What is a personal mission statement?
A personal mission statement identifies who you are, what your purpose is, and how you define success - in the office and/or in your personal life. It’s a 1-2 sentence maxim, about 30-40 words, that describes how you intend to work toward that purpose, and why it matters so much to you.
Your mission statement can act as a guide when you have decisions to make because it gives you clarity on which options best align with your goals and values. Because it’s such a brief distillation of what matters to you, it’s easy to:
- Reference when you’re wondering what to do
- Include in job applications and social media
- Post in your workspace to remind yourself and others what it is you stand for
Why would you want to use a personal mission statement
Mission statements save time, and more importantly energy, by editing out unneeded tasks and decisions. By cutting out the effort you’d spend on thinking about and making decisions every time something comes up, you can quickly reference your mission statement to decide what your best option is.
The upshot is that your personal mission statements will keep you on track with your values and goals. For example, when something unexpected comes up, instead of working through whether it’s a good option considering A, B, and C, you can weigh it against what you’ve already decided is what you want and how you want to get it.
Of course, this means you want the values and goals to line up honestly with what you believe and want. For example, even though it may seem great to say that you value hard work and perseverance, if you don’t really love grinding it out, you don’t really want to base your future or be known as the go-to person for that.
Be realistic, and set yourself up for success. It may take a hot minute to write your mission statement, but the payoff for that is going to be huge down the road.
Where can you use a personal mission statement?
There are tons of ways you’ll find your personal mission statement useful once you’ve got one written and start using it. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
As a motto
Use it when thinking about your daily tasks and choices. Whether big or small, you’ll have a sounding board to bounce questions off of, and doing things based on what you actually believe makes everything you do that much more valuable and fulfilling.
When planning your days
Use your mission statement as a guide when you’re deciding how to spend your time. You can look at how things are going to move you toward your goals and prioritize them easily, and you can see where maybe you’re spending time that isn’t contributing as much value as you’d like.
When planning a project
Compare potential projects to your mission statement to see how they stack up. If they’ll move you toward your goals, consider how much, if they don't, scrap them.
On your resume, or in your cover letter or portfolio
You can include your mission statement in your resume summary or objective, you can include it in the header or first paragraph of your cover letter, and you can include it as text somewhere in your physical or digital portfolios.
On social media
Your mission statement would be perfect in your LinkedIn bio or other professional or personal social media. Anyone that clicks will get a quick idea of who you are from it.
While looking for work
When you’re looking for work you don’t want to apply for every job out there. You can use your statement to compare job postings to see whether it’s the type of work you actually want to spend 40+ hours/week doing.
- As a reference during interviews
Interviews can be tricky and you need to prepare for them, but no matter how many questions you prep for or practice in advance, you may get thrown a curveball. If that happens, consider the question in light of your mission statement and you'll have a great guide on how to answer.
Personal mission statement examples
Everyone’s personal mission statement will be, well… personal, so they’re going to be different. But some of these famous statements may help give you an idea of how an effective one looks.
“To be a teacher of others and inspire students to go beyond their limitations.”
“To bring joy and happiness to other people.”
“To do more than survive, but to grow and live with passion, while meeting life with compassion, humor, and style.”
“If something means enough to you it should be pursued, even if you’re likely to fail.”
“To live a life without fear or ill will for any person. To refuse to submit to injustice. To conquer untruth with truth, and by doing this to put up with any kind of suffering.”
“To help people find hope after loss"
“To serve and help others. To facilitate the education of every girl on planet earth.”
“To be successful, start thinking about yourself as a personal brand.”
“To be the best leader possible, maintain a work-life balance, and maintain integrity at all times.”
“To use my gifts of intelligence, charisma, and serial optimism to cultivate the self-worth and net-worth of women around the world”
“To have fun in my journey through life and learn from my mistakes.”
So what are we waiting for? Let's break down how you can start writing a personal mission statement you can use in your next resume, social media profile, and to get you further on the path to success.
How to Write a Personal Mission Statement + 3 Templates to Use
With a little thought and work in the beginning, you’ll be able to hone in and set yourself up to write an impactful personal mission statement easily to finish up.
Use these five steps to plan, identify, and write your personal mission statement:
Identify what you value
Your personal mission statement should line up with your values and goals, so start by thinking about who you are and who you want to be at work and personally. A good idea is to just start making a list of words or phrases that identify your:
- the things that are important to you
- And especially your values
At this point just put as much as you can down on paper, you’ll refine it later.
Lean on your Network
Next, set up some time to talk with your friends, colleagues, family, and especially a mentor if you have one. Other people can see things about us that we can’t, and all of us can sometimes find it hard to be 100% honest with ourselves about ourselves.
Pick their brains about what they see as your strengths and the type of person they see you as. Go over the list you already made, get their input on it, and brainstorm with them more ideas, words, phrases, concepts, and memories that describe who ‘you’ are.
This will help identify how others view you, how your view of yourself differs from that, and where you stand in relation to the person you want to be.
Pick your goals
At this point, you can start to consider all you’ve written down and assess where you are. Don’t worry if you aren’t where you want to be yet - that’s the point.
You can make the things you aren’t happy with part of your first mission statement (and revised ones down the road) to get you to exactly whom you DO want to be.
Focus on the qualities, characteristics, and values you have, and consider your long term goals in light of these to identify a mission statement you can create to help you reach those goals.
- What do you want other people to see in you?
- What do you want your life to look like in 5 years? 10 years?
- Which are the key personal and/or professional achievements you want to target?
- What does and would make you happy?
What will your upshot be?
Your last consideration should be to ask yourself what you want your takeaway to be for other people? What do you want your legacy to be? What do you want to be remembered for?
Remember, this isn’t your last mission statement though. As things change in your life and you accomplish some of your goals you’re going to revisit and adjust or re-write it.
Your personal mission statement doesn’t have to be the goal of your LIFE, just this current stage of your life.
Some questions to consider:
- What changes to the world do you want to (help) make?
- Who or what do you want to direct your energy to support?
- What are you able to do with your current tools to improve the world?
- What motivates you?
Write your statement
Once you understand clearly what values and goals you want in your statement, it’s time to start writing. Draw on the information you gathered in each of the above steps to write one or two clear sentences that summarize your key attributes, values, and goal.
It’s a good idea to write more than one version and play with the wording in different drafts so you can see how the ideas sit in different versions and with different specifics included. Then just pick the one you feel most strongly about.
Keep these tips in mind to perfect your personal mission statement.
You be you. Your personal mission statement should be a reflection of your real self. It should capture your passions, values, and goals, not anyone else's, and shouldn’t just be something you think prospective employers or other people would want to hear.
Look for feedback. Getting feedback and going over your personal mission statement considering this feedback will help you refine your vision. Ask people in your network for suggestions on how you might improve or change it until it's perfect.
Short and to the point. Ideally, your personal mission statement will be just one sentence that crystallizes your values and goals. Being concise will help you limit the ideas you include, remember them better, and make it easier to post or distribute where you want.
Say it often. The point of writing your personal mission statement is partly for yourself and partly to get it across to other people. Consider sharing it with prospective employers, managers, supervisors, mentors, clients, colleagues and on your various social media to have it really stick with and be associated with you.
Keep it up to date. As you apply your personal mission statement you’ll find that either you start to achieve your goals, passions, or values will start to change. Every few months go over what you want, where you are in terms of your goals, and how things might have changed, and update your statement to reflect that.
Here are three templates you can use to start building your own personal mission statements. Use the ideas you came up with in the steps we described earlier to fill in the blanks, and you’ve got a great mission statement ready to go.
- "To … (what you want to achieve, do or become) … so that … (reasons why it’s important)."
- "I value (choose 1-3 values important to you) because …(reasons why these values are important to you). I …(what you can do to live by these values)."
- "To live each day with …[choose 1-3 values or principles]… so that …[what living by these values offers you or others]."
More examples of personal mission statement.
For a resume or a LinkedIn Profile
A personal mission statement for a resume or LinkedIn helps the reader or recruiter identify the strategic value you might add to the company. Try something like with the specifics of your work and passions subbed in:
I’m passionate about counseling to improve the wellbeing and mental health of children and young adults. My passions for counseling, raising awareness about these struggles, and my commitment to helping those who are struggling have inspired me to pursue this career.
Career motto personal mission statements
If you're trying to grow in your career or get into a new one, you can write yourself a mission statement something along the lines of this:
My goal is to switch to a career in (insert industry) to raise my income and get a job that I enjoy. By spending (amount of time per day/week/month) working on (career-related tasks, training, work, etc…) I will ensure I am skilled and have the experience needed to excel in this role.
Company Mission Statements
Corporate mission statements are almost universal nowadays. Companies use mission statements to clearly define their purpose and how they serve their customers and/or others through the products, services, or other actions they develop and offer.
Here are some from companies you may be familiar with:
To serve consumers through online and physical stores and focus on selection, price, and convenience.
Our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.
We ignite opportunity by setting the world in motion.
To refresh the world in mind, body and spirit. To inspire moments of optimism and happiness through our brands and actions.
The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of customer service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and company spirit.
To nourish people and the planet. We're a purpose-driven company that aims to set the standards of excellence for food retailers. Quality is a state of mind at Whole Foods Market.
-Whole Foods Market
To organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.
To help bring creative projects to life.
To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.
To enable economic growth through infrastructure and energy development, and to provide solutions that support communities and protect the planet.
The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.
-American Red Cross
To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.
To entertain, inform, and inspire people around the globe through the power of unparalleled storytelling; reflecting the iconic brands, creative minds, and innovative technologies that make ours the world’s premier entertainment company.
Our mission is to unlock the potential of human creativity — by giving a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their art and billions of fans the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by it.
To give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.
- A personal mission statement is a powerful tool to boost productivity and success
- They’re 1-2 sentences that describe how you intend to work toward a purpose, and why it matters to you
- Use them to outline your values and goals, and find ways to apply your skills to help you reach your goals
- If you take the time to plan and prepare your thoughts in advance, they are a breeze to write
- Reach out to your network to really drill down into who you are from their perspective too
- Personal mission statements can be tools to save time and energy by directing responses to questions and helping guide how you plan your day and projects.
- They aren’t forever, review them regularly as your goals evolve
- Use them in as many places as possible, including social media, resumes, cover letters, and as references when you're interviewing or even chatting with people
Writing a personal mission statement is just one small step to reaching your career goals and success. We’ve helped 1000+ other candidates find their futures with custom-tailored training, advice, and strategies.
If you want to talk to one of our experts to learn more about how to write a mission statement, or you're curious about any other ways to better navigate your career path, check out our career counseling service.