Writing a personal mission statement for goal planning success


The difference between having a personal mission statement and not having one, is somewhat akin to the difference between a career and a job.

A job gives you a paycheque, whereas a career challenges and stimulates you, and provides joy (and frustration) along with that paycheque.

“One of the biggest mistakes job-seekers make is not understanding themselves fully,” says Randall S. Hansen, CEO of Quintessential Careers.

A personal mission statement is important, not only as a tool in career planning, but in life planning as well.

David Bowman, president of International Association of Career Consulting Firms, says, “without a focus in life, we’re a bit like a ship without a rudder.” He stresses the importance of having a plan.

If you’ve ever studied marketing, you know that all companies have mission statements describing the essence of what they strive for. A personal mission statement can be short or long.

Creating your personal mission statement

Hansen suggests a five-step process to build your personal mission statement. Think about past successes, examine your core values, look at past and potential contributions, identify your future goals, and then (in the fifth step) combine all four of these elements into your personal mission statement.

Although you are not going to share anything but your career goals with a potential employer, the rest of the mission statement is a tool for you personally.  Hansen adds, “It should be an overall view of who you are and what you want to accomplish—something that you can look at each morning to motivate you.”

Bowman says, “In order to attain success…one must have a clear vision of what success means. But in order to attain that vision, one must create an action plan – called a personal mission statement that outlines how to get there.”

Think of your personal mission statement as a road map as you chart your course through life. Hansen says, “A mission statement can evolve and change as we have additional life experiences and as we grow personally and professionally.”

Many small businesses revise business plans frequently, especially towards the beginning of their existence. You should revisit your plan periodically, to ensure that you are still on track, and you still want to end up where you did when you started out.

About the author

Mira Saraf studied psychology and English at McGill University. When she graduated, she wanted to pursue journalism but somehow ended up working in Montreal's garment industry. From there, she moved to New York to attend FIT. She worked there for a year before moving back to Toronto to work for Winners. Two and a half years in she took over a year off to pursue writing education and a career in freelance writing. She has since returned to the industry and now works for Loblaw/Joe Fresh. She continues to write on a part time basis.