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Article: How to Write a Personal Mission Statement

Writing an inspiring personal mission statement requires a combination of imagination, focus and brevity.
Unfortunately, a surprisingly large number of corporate mission statements demonstrated the exact opposite
characteristics - so don't use them as role models for your own!

In this article I will outline a simple method for writing your own personal mission statement.

1- Start With a Vision

Before getting involved in the details required to produce a good mission statement, let your imagination soar by
creating a descriptive vision of what you want to do, be or achieve.

You can do this in many ways.  For some people a journal or diary allows them to express the possibilities of the future
in a visionary way.  Others will use pictures and images in a scrapbook or increasingly online, using sites like flickr.com.

My coaching preference was to use mind mapping software that enabled clients to collect  ideas and concepts.
These could be reorganize later  and also exported into Microsoft Word or Acrobat PDF formats.

2- Focus

My favorite mission statement is the one given to General Eisenhower way back in 1944.

"Proceed to London. Invade Europe. Defeat the Germans."

This is a masterpiece of not only focus but also of brevity.

As a military history buff who had visited the Normandy D-Day beaches, I was both emotionally and intellectually
moved by the scale and impact of these eight words.

So much so, that I unconsciously created a similar nine word mission statement covering my life from about 1993 to the
beginning of 2005. It read as follows:

"Move to Japan. Build a career. Start a Family."

In the early 1990s I was not much of a personal development student, so I never wrote this down! But things worked out
pretty much to plan anyway ;-)

Notice in both these examples exactly what is being focused on.

In the case of General Eisenhower, the strategic end goal of defeating Nazi Germany is very clear in that mission
statement.  And yet it's also obvious that there are a number of major steps implied.

He first has to get to London and deal with all the secret logistical planning. Then he has to actually land in
Normandy and not get driven back into the sea. And finally, there are the numerous battles to be fought across Europe in order to reach Berlin.

In my own example it was a case of building a family life in Japan.  And perhaps like many of you, a full-time career was
part of my thinking. High-cost Tokyo is not a fun place to be without some money!

The tip here is that it's OK to combine multiple vision statements as the essence of your mission statement.  I
combined elements of my (unwritten, I know!) career, family and travel dreams/visions into the example above.

But I also left out specific mention of the wealth, health, community and spiritual categories of my life.  Obviously
there's a limit to what can be done using 10 words or less! However the point is to seek harmony wherever possible across the various categories of your life.

3- Brevity

Can you recall your mission statement just from memory - anytime, anywhere?

If not, refine and shorten it until it rolls off your tongue.

Start the mission statement with a verb and keep it to 10 words or less.