How to Write a Personal Mission Statement (Examples Included)

By Mike Simpson

Mission statements are everywhere in business. Nearly every company has one, allowing a simple sentence or two to act as a guiding light for all of its decision-making.

But did you know that you can harness the power of the mission statement to elevate your career? It’s true. With a personal mission statement, you can define your career target and achieve your goals.

Awesome, right?

And personal mission statements aren’t that hard to nail. All you need is the right approach. If you want to make the most of this handy-dandy career-boosting tool, here’s what you need to know…

What Is a Personal Mission Statement?

Alright, before we dig into how to write personal mission statements, let’s take a step back and talk about what one even is.

In the simplest terms, a personal mission statement is a couple of sentences that define your professional capabilities, traits, values, and dreams. It outlines what you’re all about, including what you bring to the table now and what you want to achieve in your career.

How can a personal mission statement help you reach your goals? By giving you focus. It’s all about outlining what actually matters to you, giving you something to concentrate on as you make career decisions.

This is especially true if you’re launching a job search or a full-blown career change. Why? Because it helps you figure out where you should go next. You’ll be able to concentrate on opportunities that can help you get where you want to end up, instead of just skimming job boards without a clear direction in mind.

But even if you aren’t about to make a change, that doesn’t mean writing a personal mission statement isn’t a great idea. You can use one to adopt a more positive mindset, find meaning in the small tasks that don’t feel all that meaningful alone or keep you focused on what really matters to you.

In the end, everyone can benefit from one of these little declarations. When you write one, you have to really think about who you are, what you value, and what you want from your life. That’s powerful. It gives you direction, and that’s crucial for any career.

Common Mistakes When Writing a Personal Mission Statement

Yes, it is possible to make mistakes when you try to create a personal mission statement. And, if you do, the outcome is less than ideal. You end up with a point of focus that doesn’t really align with who you are and what you want, and that can send you in the wrong direction.

By understanding what the common mistakes are, you can avoid them. So, let’s dig into that.

Really, the biggest mistake you can make when writing personal mission statements is not focusing on you. If you let other people’s opinions influence what you create, the end result isn’t very personal, and it feels like an obligation weighing over your head.

Similarly, not reflecting on what you genuinely want is another massive misstep. You need to dig deep and discover what matters most to you. That way, your personal mission statement is meaningful.

Another issue is being too specific. Unlike with your career goals, where details are your ally, being a little broad when you create your personal mission statement isn’t a bad idea. This is supposed to be more of a guiding principle, so embrace the big picture instead.

Finally, hedging is a major mistake. This isn’t a place for “maybes.” Instead, it’s a place for “musts.” Think about what you’re internally compelled to do. If you can concentrate on things that you feel driven toward, your odds of hitting the mark go up dramatically.

How to Write a Personal Mission Statement

Okay, so you’re ready to start forming your own personal mission statement. That’s awesome.

While it may seem a little difficult at first, you can smooth out the process by following the right approach. If you aren’t sure where to start, here’s a step-by-step guide for creating personal mission statements.

1. Spend Time Reflecting

Before you start writing your statement, take a moment to really reflect. Think about your boldest personal and career goals, envision where you want to be down the road, and consider what you genuinely wish to achieve.

As you reflect, you don’t have to focus entirely on your professional life. After all, your time away from work is a big chunk of your overall experience, so it’s fine to think about what you want outside of your career, too.

Additionally, don’t be afraid to think big picture. Often, core values are a bit broad, and that’s alright. The main goal is to determine what really lights your fire, whether it’s big or small.

You could also spend time reflecting on the kind of legacy you want to leave. This mindset can actually be ridiculously helpful. Consider what you want to be remembered for, and use that as a guide.

As you come up with ideas, jot them down. Create a messy running list and let the creative juices flow. This step is all about ideas, so let them fly.

2. Identify Who You Want to Help

Personal mission statements have an audience. Usually, it’s something or someone you want to help.

Not sure who your audience is? Well, it could be your employer, customers, employees, or community, for example.

Think about who you want to have benefit from your efforts. That’s probably your audience.

3. Pick Core Traits or Skills

When you’re writing a personal mission statement, you need to include the skills and traits you’ll need to put to work to make that happen. Now, these can be more technical capabilities or personal characteristics, so don’t feel like you’re limited to one or the other. You’re not.

4. Try a Personal Mission Statement Template

Now that you’ve done some brainstorming, you can use a formula to create your personal mission statement. If you aren’t sure where to begin, try this personal mission statement template:

“To [desired goal, outcome, or achievement] [target audience that will benefit] by [skills you want to use] [what those skills will let you do or how you’ll apply them].”

For example, let’s say your area doesn’t have a food bank because they can’t afford one, and that’s hurting low-income families, but you’ve got skills that can help start one in your city. Your mission statement may say:

“To launch a community food bank for low-income families by harnessing my fundraising, networking, and negotiating skills to sure the needed funding.”

MIKE'S TIP: Does the personal mission statement template above mean you have to stop at one sentence? No, not really. While one sentence can do the trick – just as the example above shows – you can add one or two more if you’d like. Just make sure you stay concise and focused. That’s what really matters.

Use the personal mission statement template as a starting framework, but feel free to adjust it a bit if the need arises. For example, you may tweak the order you cover each point. In fact, we do that in some of the samples below.

Personal Mission Statement Examples

While personal mission statements are, by definition, personal, that doesn’t mean a little bit of inspiration isn’t helpful. By reviewing some examples, you can learn more about what resonates with you.

Personal mission statements can vary a lot depending on the nature of your career as well as your goals, values, and preferences. Additionally, some are a bit more general, while others are more specific.

For example, Sir Richard Branson once said his was: “Have fun in your journey through life and learn from your mistakes.”

Compare that to one from Oprah: “To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be.”

Those are two different approaches that accomplish a similar goal. In the end, either way can work, as long as it resonates with you and sends you in the proper direction.

Still looking for more help? We’ve got you. Here are ten personal mission statement examples for different kinds of professionals.

1. Teacher

To inspire the development of today’s young people by continuously honing my skills, expanding my knowledge, and supporting them as they grow.

2. Registered Nurse

To be a guiding light during challenging times, ensuring those in crisis feel safe and supported while offering the highest quality care every moment of every day.

3. Software Developer

To build technologies that ease the burdens of others, all while focusing on personal efficiency and skill development to ensure I am always equipped to not just address the challenges of today, but the challenges of tomorrow, as well.

4. HR Manager

To ensure the success of the company as well as every employee within it, providing both with the tools, guidance, and support they need to achieve new heights while reaching their business and professional goals.

5. Paralegal

To provide exceptional support to every member of the practice, ensuring that those we serve are given the high-quality experience they deserve every step of the way.

6. Accountant

To continuously handle my responsibilities with diligence, all while ensuring that ethical codes of conduct are met and that every action is fully compliant.

7. Project Manager

To ensure that companies can achieve success by removing obstacles, finding solutions, and coordinating the efforts of diverse teams.

8. Data Analyst

To bring meaning to the mountains of information companies receive by growing and honing my skills, ensuring that business can make sound decisions every step of the way.

9. Operations Manager

To improve the efficiency and reliability of company operations while simultaneously providing exceptional results when overseeing projects, managing personnel, and updating business processes.

10. C-Suite Executive

To lead the company toward greater heights by embracing innovative thinking, always looking toward the future, and offering support to every team member to ensure they thrive in their roles.

Putting It All Together

Ultimately, a personal mission statement can be an excellent tool. It lets you focus your efforts on what you really want, and that’s powerful. Use the personal mission statement examples above, as well as the step-by-step process, to get started. If you do, you’ll have an amazing one ready faster than you’d ever imagined.

Good luck!

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About The Author

Mike Simpson

Co-Founder and CEO of TheInterviewGuys.com. Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at TheInterviewGuys.com. His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan, Penn State, Northeastern and others. Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page.