Reportedly, only 3% of Americans have their goals stated and written down. So, there is a question, which came first; the chicken or the egg?
Are the top 3% people of society successful because they wrote their goals down, or is it just the habit of the 3% “best” of us?
Well, there has been researche done on this topic, which tries to discover a correlation between goals writing and success. In the case of personal mission statements there is no such conducted.
And having a personal mission statement is even more elite than having your goals written down. On the other hand, there were millions of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People copies sold and this is the book which popularized the concept. So, having a personal mission statement is not as rare as having a unicorn in your stables.
What the heck it is?
A personal mission statement is your philosophy, your creed written down.
“It focuses on what you want to be (character) and to do (contributions and achievements) and on the values or principles upon which being and doing are based”
– Stephen R. Covey.
It is supposed to allow you to state your own constitution based on your deepest values, so you can lead a life premised on them.
1. It is better than goals alone
It is so much more than just writing down even a whole bunch of big visions on paper. It puts your humanity at the core of your all activities in a way unique for you. You don’t spend your life chasing other thresholds and sources of income. You don’t spend it trying to beat another record or to achieve another thing on your list. You achieve all of these as the effect of living in accordance with your values.
2. It gives you purpose
A personal mission statement is about your life’s purpose. It sounds grandiloquent, doesn’t it?
But it’s really hard to state what goal you would like to achieve in the next 30 or 50 years of your life. It’s much easier to state what kind of man (or woman) you want to be and which principles and values you want to stick to. A personal mission statement is your compass, which determines the direction of your life, but doesn’t set the milestones in stone. You will gradually discover and reach your purpose following your personal constitution.
3. It works
Here is my reality check for you, regarding a personal mission statement:
It works. I know, because I’ve been using it since November 2012.
It’s not as predictable and simple as setting the SMART goal, dividing it into smaller tasks and pursuing it according to deadlines and milestones. But it produces results in the same fashion and it is more fun (if you define “fun” as coming out of your comfort zone).
Writing & achievement
When I wrote down in my personal mission statement the words: “I’m becoming a writer“, I had something entirely different in my mind.
I thought about writing fiction in my native language. I finished writing ‘how-to’ guides in English. I didn’t know very much what ‘a blog’ was. Now I have 3 of them and think about launching a couple more. I’ve a few guest posts planned on the blogs which are a thousand times bigger than mine.
All in all, I’ve written about 200k words since the moment of creating my personal mission statement. Writers write. It works. I am becoming a writer.
One of the 14 parts of my mission statement focuses on gratitude. I always appreciated what I got in life, but I was never exercising gratitude consciously. Now, after a year of living with my creed, the gratitude practically pours out of my entire body. I started three gratitude diaries, one about my kids, where I write every day at least 3 positive things about each of them, One about my wife and, in the other one, I write about 15 things I am grateful for in every day I live. My most common thought is: “Thank You, God”.
And three notepads full of my gratitude notes from 2013 are the solid proofs that it’s not an illusion.
Another area I work on is mindfulness and self-examination. Before I created the personal mission statement, I had thought about my life once, maybe twice per year. Since the beginning of May 2013, I’ve been doing self-analysis on a daily basis. From January to May 2013 I did it irregularly—about once, twice per week. I have hundreds of pages written down from those sessions. And I add another one with each passing day.
I didn’t wonder about my speaking manners at all.
Now I am more careful in my speaking manners. I praise more; I swear less—much less, in fact. I catch myself about twice a day when I want to say something not very wise or cruel and keep my mouth shut.
Inspired by my personal mission statement, the Bible, my own experiences during retreats and the reflections of famous people (like Jim Rohn), in the middle of October 2013 I decided to tame my tongue.
Again, using a personal mission statement doesn’t just come down to saying or reading the words, I have entries on my blog, I have tracking notes. Those are material proofs of my progress.
4. It builds your perseverance and, in effect—your success
Sustained use of the personal mission statement can develop your grit, thus your success, even in the areas you consider impossible.
I’ve just checked my past monthly budgets. Since November 2012, I’ve saved about 20% of my monthly salary. Previously it was only 4.5%.
But I’m much more amazed by my ability to generate an income. My Amazon sales in December 2013 generated the equivalent of 1.65% of my salary. I have just to publish 60 times more books and I’m done
Selling books made me my first money online and, frankly, the first money I have ever earned outside my 9 to 5 jobs.
A year ago I didn’t believe I was able to get myself out of the daily grindstone. I KNEW I wasn’t able. My whole life experience taught me that.
And still, here I am, the money-making, published author
If I were you, I would seriously consider creating your personal mission statement.
If you created it at one time and put into a drawer, I would seriously consider brushing it up.
Your own grit (success) shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Composing your personal mission statement is not rocket science. You need just a hefty dose of commitment and some time to develop your own constitution.
Just do it.
Avoid those mistakes
It’s important to create the personal mission statement in a very serious manner. You may undermine the mission statement status in your own eyes by doing it with a lick and a promise. The common mistakes you can make are:
– You deliberately avoid some unresolved difficult moments from your past
– You marginalize your dark traits
– You pursue the shiny wishes instead of focusing on values and principles
– You put inside it what others expect of you, instead of what you expect of yourself
– You do it hastily, without giving it enough attention
Then, when it comes to the daily usage of your personal mission statement, you don’t really feel the connection with the final product. You feel as though you are repeating lies or empty slogans. In effect, you don’t find the motivation to keep referring to your personal mission statement and you abandon it.
The denial mode
And, of course, you claim that “this stuff doesn’t work” to maintain your mental health. It’s so much easier to blame “this stuff” instead of admitting that you screwed up again, isn’t it?
I have a similar problem with goal settings. I failed so many times to achieve my goals, that I’m very tempted to label goal setting and pursuing as “ineffective” or “counterproductive”. But there is always the reality check: There are people out there who started at a lower level than me and are at a higher level now. And they used goals and deadlines as the tools of their progress. No matter how much I’ll be bitching about inefficiency of goal settings, it won’t change the reality.
1. If you have a lot of time for web research, just type into Google, ‘how to write a personal mission statement’. You will find some gems and much junk, but you will be able to write your creed sooner or later.
2. Get and read at least parts 1 and 2 of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
3. Or just read my book with step-by-step instructions on developing your own mission statement.
After using my personal mission statement for almost 18 months I value it as highly as $8000 in hard cash.
I don’t want to be paid for the word count. I want you to pay me for the actual value your personal mission statement will bring to your life.
My book will save you at least a few hours and I have included the ‘gems’ of Web research at the end of it.