Much like a corporate mission statement, your
personal mission statement defines who you are, what you’re all
about, and why you’re on this earth. Why do you need a personal
It helps you make difficult decisions when faced with
the myriad of choices life presents.
It helps you realize how very little time you truly
have to accomplish the important things in your life.
It helps you recognize when you’re off course and
steers you back in the right direction.
Discovering Your True Priorities
The main objective of a personal mission
statement is to define what’s important to you. Many people say
“this is important,” and “that is important,” but how do you narrow
it down to what’s truly important in your life? I like to use the
Scenario A: Picture a thick,
banded-steel cable about 2 feet in circumference and 100 feet long,
stretched out across the floor. You are standing at one end, and I’m
on the other. I call out to you, “I’ll give you $100 if you can step
onto the cable and walk across it like a balance beam over to me
without falling off onto the floor.” Would you try it? Sure! Most
people would. Why? Basically, it involves a fairly low risk with a
relatively high payoff for the effort required. It could be fun and
a little challenging.
Scenario B: Now we’re going to suspend
the cable just a “bit.” Have you ever been to the Royal Gorge Bridge
in Canon City, Colorado? It’s the highest suspension bridge in the
world, with a cable like ours spanning a chasm with a rushing river
below. A tram with a clear glass bottom hangs from the cable and
carries passengers across the chasm. Except you don’t get to ride
the tram. You are standing on one side of the chasm, and I’m on the
other side. The cable is suspended between us. I yell out, “HEY! If
you can cross the cable like a balance beam without falling off into
the river below, I’ll give you $100!” There is no way anyone in his
or her right mind would attempt that. The risk is too high for the
reward involved. But let’s up the ante. Would you cross it for
$250,000? No? How about $1 million dollars? How much would I have to
offer you? What if I let you crawl across on your belly? For some of
you, the reward would never be high enough to risk your life.
Scenario C: Let’s add a little wind (a
slight 40 MPH breeze) and a tad of rain to make the cable slick. I’m
on one side of the chasm, and you’re on the other. In my arms, I
hold your child hostage. I yell, “If you don’t cross the chasm in
two minutes, I’m throwing your child in the river.” Would you come
now? Of course you would! Despite the incredibly high risk to your
own life, the child is so priceless to you that you’d risk your own
life to save that child.
Perhaps if you don’t have children, it could
be your parents, your significant other, or your friend. Clearly,
that person is a core value in your life. What other things exist
like that in your life? Probably not very many. What principles,
values, or character traits are most important to you, such that if
I were to rip them out of your life and throw them into the chasm,
you would be willing to cross the bridge to save them? What things
are so integral to who you are that you cannot imagine existing
Determining your core values
Holding that visualization in your
mind, read through the following list of values below. They may be
important to you; they may not be. Circle any of the values you’d
cross the bridge for. Add any others important to you but not listed
at the bottom.
Next, go back through the items you’ve circled
and narrow the list down to only six. Which items are more important
to you than the others? Place a star next to your top six values.
Now picture this: you’ve got those six items
lined up with you on the side of the chasm. I have the ability to
make you choose between them. You’ve got to throw three away. What
ones would go? If all you had left in your life were three values,
what would they be? Cross out three of the six so that your top
three values remain.
Lastly, rank your top three values. Which one
would go first? Label it #3. Which one would go second? Label it #2.
Label the one remaining item #1.
You have just listed the top three most
important values in your life. There are, of course, no “correct”
answers, just the correct answers for YOU. Everyone’s values are
different. My values are spirituality, family, and health, in that
order. Yours are probably different, but even if they are exactly
the same, in the same order, we probably place different meaning on
each of the words.
Defining your core values
Rewrite your top three values in order on the
blanks below. Then for each value, write a definition, a statement
of what it means to you to be successful in each area. At the end of
your life, looking back, how will you know if you’ve been successful
in that area? If “Family” is one of your values, how will you know
if you’ve been successful as a family man or woman? If you put
“Happiness,” what does that look like to you?
“Success to me means...”
“Success to me means...”
“Success to me means...”
Sit in front of a computer or with pen and
paper and merge the three paragraphs together into one statement. It
could be several sentences or several paragraphs.
You’ve just created a personal mission
statement for your life.
I’ll share my personal mission statement with
The most important thing to me is my
spirituality and relationship with God. Success to me means I am
reminded that this life is temporary, and my success is measured in
the end by how I serve the Lord with my time, talents, and
treasure. I make decisions based on what I feel Jesus would have me
do, not what I would want to do. I try to live a life of service to
Him. I am light and salt on this earth, spreading His good news and
reflecting his love to all I meet. Second, being successful as a
wife and mother means that I am important in the life of my loved
ones, and I act in ways that others could see that this role was
important to me. I remember that if all else is taken away, and I
still have them, I am all right. I try to be a loving, encouraging,
supportive wife. I try to be a loving, caring, and nurturing
mother, sometimes even sacrificing my needs to ensure theirs are
met. I remember that I work to live, not live to work. Lastly, I
take care of myself physically, knowing that with my health, I have
the ability to do things for the Lord and my family. I have the
energy I need to work and earn money for my family to live. I get
enough sleep, eat healthily, and exercise regularly.
Your mission statement will reflect who YOU are
and what’s important to you. Think of your personal mission
statement as your constitution. It will become your benchmark and
your standard of excellence. It will get your behaviour in line.
You measure yourself against it and continuously ask yourself if an
activity is moving toward your mission in life. For example, if I
say taking care of your health is important to me, then I eat 8
slices of pizza and watch 5 straight hours of television, it is very
apparent I’m not supporting myself by my actions.
When you’re making changes in your life and
setting goals, refer to your statement of purpose. I promise this
activity will have an impact on your productivity. It’s been said
“true character is the ability to carry out a goal long after the
mood in which it was created has passed.” That’s when the real
Stack, MBA, CSP, a professional speaker and trainer, is known as
“The Productivity Pro.”Ò
The author of
Leave the Office Earlier
(Broadway Books, 2004), Stack is an expert on employee productivity
and workplace issues. For seminar information or to subscribe to her
free monthly newsletter, visit her website at
www.TheProductivityPro.com or call 1-888-284-PEAK.