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There’s plenty of advice these days about how you’re supposed to have personal mission and vision statements. The idea seemed silly to me at first – I’m a person, not a Fortune 500 company. But I was convinced after reading about their importance on some of my favorite productivity and personal development blogs.
Writing my personal mission and vision statements was a watershed moment in my personal productivity. I’ve used them for two years to guide my planning. They provide a true north when it’s time to make decisions. I can look at those documents and ask: does taking on a new project get me closer to or distract me from where I want to go?
Mission and vision statements are so important to quarterly planning, that I really wanted to share with you a step-by-step way to get them drafted.
Follow these steps to create both mission and vision statements, and you will have documents that you can refer to for your planning and for making decisions.
What are Personal Vision and Mission Statements?
Mission statements and visions statements are both written documents that depict an idealized version of your life and your actions. They both help you make decisions. You create them both with a steady view of how you would like your life to be.
The main difference is this:
Your Mission reminds you why you choose to do challenging things, and
Your Vision guides you as you make plans to improve an aspect of your life.
Or it could be a short essay on how you’ll wish you had lived when you’re looking back from the end of your life. There are even templates to suit your style. The goal in writing your mission is to create a guide that motivates you to behave in line with your principles.
Your Personal Vision Statement will be a series of statements describing various areas of your life as you would like them to be in the future. You can cover any number of life areas, such as your relationships, health, career, finances, and what you do for fun.
Here is a sample from my own vision that gives you a sense of how important it is to me to eat well:
My food is the healthiest that my money can buy. I seek out the freshest possible vegetables and fruits, sustainably harvested wild products, and humanely raised meat. Barely any food is wasted in my household. I enjoy with intentionality the food that other people have cooked for me. I enjoy shopping for and cooking meals for myself or to share. The food that I make is beautiful, satisfying and delicious.
That’s an idealized version of my relationship with food. The statements above are not all true at this time, but I hope that they will be 10 years.
Ready to Write?
To create your mission and vision statements, you will need:
- a paper or electronic notepad for drafting your statements,
- an internet connection, and
- a place to keep your mission and vision statements where you can refer to them easily
How Long Will This Take?
The FranklinCovey mission tool takes only 10-15 minutes. If you want to draft your mission statement based on one of the other templates mentioned above, allow at least an hour.
It’s best to spread out writing the mission statement and the vision statement on two different days to prevent rushing.
Your vision statement will take about an hour to create a first draft.
Draft Your Mission Statement
The fastest path to your first mission statement is to use the free FranklinCovey tool. Go to this website: https://msb.franklincovey.com/. Fill in the forms and then print out the result. Read and review it. Make changes to it if you want.
If you’ve been collecting quotes and maxims, you might have enough to create a set of operating principles. Ben Franklin used a set of statements that described how he wanted to live.
After creating your mission statement, read it over and set it aside. Come back to it the next day or a few days later to read and revise it.
Draft Your Vision Statement
The first thing to decide when creating your vision is your time horizon. How far into the future should you look when creating your vision?
As a guideline, start with 5 years if you are doing this for your career planning. If you are using it for life planning (lifestyle design), look up to 25 years out. The benefit of a longer time horizon is that it gives you unlimited room to dream.
Next, write down as many details as you can about what you want your life to be at that time. Where do you live? What do you do on a typical weekday and weekend? What do your relationships look like, your health, your finances? What do you do for work and fun? Add anything else you want to complete the picture of the life you want in the future.
Once you’re done freewriting, set it down and come back to it the next day and do a revision.
How do you know when it’s done? Your vision statement will be inspiring to you. It will represent who you want to be. Once you’re happy with it, it’s time to file it where you can see it.
File and Review Your Statements
Put your mission and vision documents where you can see them. I put mine in Quiver (an Evernote alternative). A bulletin board over your desk is another good place to post your mission and vision.
Then, set a reminder in your to-do app or calendar to review it every week and also every month and quarter. The best time to review your mission and vision is before any planning session.
Mission and vision statements will be fairly stable because they represent what you value at your core. Still, it’s a good idea to update them annually or when you have major life changes.
Use Your Personal Mission and Vision Statements to Make Decisions
The process of writing my mission and vision statements brought into focus what is important to me. Even better than that, it gave me a marker far in the distance to guide my path.
When I’m doing my quarterly planning, these documents help me focus on what’s important in the long view.
On many occasions, short-term projects have competed with my long-term vision. When I review my vision statement, it reminds me what will really make me happy in the long run.