Are You Living on Purpose? Personal Mission Statement Exercises

Please make sure you’ve first read the article, Using a Personal Mission Statement to Chart Your Career Course.

The following exercises in Part I provide us with feedback on our lifestyles, values, achievements, and other sources of satisfaction in preparation for writing our personal mission statements. Part II builds on that feedback to help you articulate your statement of purpose.

A personal mission statement addresses three questions:
1) What is my life about?
2) What do I stand for?
3) What action am I taking to live what my life is about and what I stand for?

A useful mission statement should include two pieces: what you wish to accomplish and contribute, and who you want to be — the character strengths and qualities you wish to develop.

Part I

A. Describe your ideal day. This is not about being practical. It is designed to include as many sides of you and of your enthusiasms as possible: creative, competent, artistic, introverted, extraverted, athletic, playful, nurturing, contemplative, etc.

B. Imagine yourself 132 years old and surrounded by your descendants and/or those descendants of your friends. You are in a warm and relaxed atmosphere (such as around a fireplace). What would you say to them is important in life? This is designed to access the values and principles that guide your life.

C. Imagine that it is your 35th or 50th birthday (or another milestone in your life). You have been asked by national print media to write a press release about your achievements. Consider what you would want your family, friends, co-workers in your profession and in your community to say about you. What difference would you like to have made in their lives? How do you want to be remembered? This is designed to inventory your actions and accomplishments in all areas of your life.

Part II

Review your notes for these three exercises. With those responses in mind, reflect on questions 1, 2, and 3 above. Then write a rough draft (a page of any length) of your mission statement. Remember that it should describe what you want to do and who you want to be. This is not a job description. Carry it with you, post copies in visible places at home and work, and revise and evaluate. Be patient with yourself. The process is as important as the outcome. After a few weeks, write another draft. Ask yourself if your statement was based on proven principles that you believe in, if you feel direction, motivation and inspiration when you read it. Over time, reviewing and evaluating will keep you abreast of your own development.

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