The best way to craft a mission statement is to start by listing qualities and ideas that matter to you now. Then look for themes that you believe will be an important part of your life ten, twenty, and even fifty years from today. Ideally, the way that you fulfill your mission statement will change over time, but your overall mission will remain steady. For example, if football is part of your mission you might pursue your mission by playing football in high school, coaching your child’s football teams as an adult, and learning about the sport throughout your lifetime.
I use this simple illustration to help families understand what a mission statement is about. In short, a mission statement is a lighthouse—a stead guide that illuminates one’s path, no matter how stormy life becomes. [Tweet “When we know our mission, there is always a clear path to follow.”]
The Value of Mission
A number of excellent books have been written about the value of mission over the past decade. Mission statements are so important that it is difficult to find a company without one. Even fast-food companies know that they must embrace more than delicious food in order to thrive. Customer experience and company culture matter too, and these components are often an important part of the company’s mission. Although mission statements sometimes go by different names, the idea of having a lighthouse, providing a clear path to follow, remains the same.
“Those who aim at nothing are sure to hit it every time.” This well-known axiom is more relevant than ever. Our world is filled with shiny distractions. Those who fail to make plans will find themselves rushing from one thing to the next. C.OW.’s—also known as the Crisis Of the Week—abound. It used to be that business was a sign of hard work and determination. However, in 2016, rushing from one thing to the next is the norm. It is far more difficult to slow down than to hurry through life.
This is precisely why having a clear mission matters. [Tweet “Mission is a lighthouse that shines directly on our busy lives.”]
Overcoming Mission Statement Anxiety
Mission statement anxiety takes many forms. Sometimes, people feel so pressured to have a well-crafted, unchanging, masterpiece, that nothing gets done at all. Of course, this is a huge mistake. Mission statements don’t need to be perfect, and contrary to popular belief, they can morph over time.
When choosing keywords for one’s mission statement, the idea is to choose qualities, activities, and ideas that you envision being an important part of your life fifty years from now. However, this doesn’t mean that things can’t change over time. When I was in my twenties, I thought many activities would be an important part of my life forever. As I have grown older—and wiser—some of these activities are no longer as important as they once were. People change, values change, and your mission may change too. Don’t feel that everything has to be perfect. When it comes to developing a mission statement, having an imperfect statement is far better than having none at all.
The good news is that if you are careful about the words you choose, the meaning behind those words will change as you do. Years ago, I chose the word growth, as part of my mission. At the time, I fulfilled this portion of my mission by attending college, reading books, and participating in workshops. Today, I teach college classes and spend more time writing books than I do reading them—though I still do read quite a bit. I’m also beginning to teach workshops as opposed to attending them. Today, I am growing more by writing and teaching than I did by reading and studying. My mission is the same, yet the way I’m living out my mission continues to morph over time.
For bloggers, having a mission statement means that no matter how hectic life becomes, your writing will always have direction.
[Tweet “For bloggers, a mission statement illuminates meaningful content and fresh ideas!”]
On a personal level, a clear mission means that when life’s storms hit–no matter how chaotic and messy things become—you will always have a guiding light.
Discovering Your Mission
The easiest way to discover one’s mission is by writing out keywords and values that matter. Brainstorm as many as you can. Then, look for common themes. Cross out words that are not a good fit, and see if you can find the underlying theme behind words that are time-sensitive. For example, words like reading, college, student, study, books, education, etc. were all incorporated into my chosen mission of “growth.” Although I was attending college at the time, I also recognized that in just a few years college would be much less important. The personal growth aspect of school was what I enjoyed the most. This refining process led me to the discovery that “growth,”not “college,”was my true mission.
Refining Your Mission Statement
Some people like to form a carefully crafted statement. Others create fancy t-shirts and wall-placards. My preference is to keep things simple by sticking with five key words—no fancy phrases. The words alone are enough and keep things easy to remember. My missional words are Jesus, family, growth, joy, and health (both physical and mental health). No matter what circumstances I find my in, these are the things that matter! These key areas encompass the majority of my writing. When life gets busy, these priorities always, always, always receive attention. There are many other important areas of life, yet these are the bare-bones of what truly matters. This is my lighthouse! What is yours?
How about you? Do you have a mission statement? If you do, please feel free to share it in the comments below. If not, what are some of the keywords that make up your lighthouse? Please share those too. What other questions about mission statements do you have? I can’t wait to continue our conversation in the comments below!
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