self-reflection \self-ri-flek-shen\ n : serious thought about one’s character, actions, and motives or that of careful consideration of one’s behavior and beliefs; also known as introspection
What is my purpose? Why am I in the position I am? Is there more for me out there in the world? Where are these thoughts and questions coming from? With nearly 60,000 thoughts swirling around in our head each day, over half of which are negative or pessimistic and 90% repeating themselves day to day, it’s no wonder we may question ourselves.
The original idea of introspection was developed by Wilhelm Wudnt in the late 1800s. He focused on three areas of mental functioning: Thoughts, images, and feelings. His work led to the modern-day field of cognitive psychology.
Whatever position you currently hold in life, it’s vital to take the time to reflect, become aware, and take action to improve your life. When we self-reflect with the goal of creating a personal mission statement, we can discover ourselves and our true sense of purpose.
Personal mission statements are important components of leadership and personal and professional development. In a noisy, chaotic world, we can turn to our mission statement for balance, clarity and grounding. To start crafting your own personal mission statement, answer the following five questions:
- What is important?
What or whom do you value? How is your life connected to those things? Do you need more time to connect?
- Where do I want to go/What do I want to accomplish?
Your answers may involve personal and professional goals. They may also include various aspects of your life – emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual. As you write you down your goals, give yourself permission to dream. Too often we lose that childlike wonderment that life is full of possibilities.
- What does “the best” look like for me?
Describe your best possible result. This is not the time to be hard on yourself, but to dream.
- How do I want to act?
How do you want people to describe you? Remember that we are not needing to act a certain way to be liked or accepted, but to be our best every day, every moment. Think of a few words you would want to come to mind when people think about you.
- What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?
Imagine once you’ve retired and you’re reminiscing over your life. What does the impact you’ve left look like?
Here are a handful of personal mission statements written by individuals you may know:
- Maya Angelou: My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.
- Denise Morrison: Morrison, president and CEO of Campbell Soup Company from 2011 to 2018, admits to taking a long time to craft her personal mission statement: “To serve as a leader, live a balanced life, and apply ethical principles to make a significant difference.” It’s simply stated, not overwhelming and can be applied to all aspects of her life. In leading this major company, Morrison has made for herself, and us, a strong and stirring statement.
- Gloria Horsley: Horsley's statement is: “To help people find hope after loss." Horsley founded the nonprofit Open to Hope and helps hundreds of thousands of people each year with inspirational articles and radio broadcasts. She travels the globe and encourages others to "be the comfort for others that have suffered a loss in their life. Even if it's just a hug that will help more than words could ever express."
- Malala Yousafzai: This young Nobel Prize laureate and activist has said, “I want to serve the people. And I want every girl, every child to be educated.” Malala’s personal mission statement examples are broad, but her actions as an advocate, author, and activist all clearly link back to these objectives. This is how to write a personal mission statement that easily lends itself to being shared publicly as it gets at a larger vision.
As you move forward with the creation of your own mission statement remember you’re worth it, the time you spend doing this is worth it. Self-reflection is key!
About the Author: Nancy Boyle is an EAP Trainer with The Village Business Institute. She has a bachelor's degree in Business Administration and Human Resource Management with an emphasis in the Human Services from Valley City State University, and brings 15 years of public speaking and facilitation experience to VBI with a background in program management, training coordination, and volunteer management. Her certifications include: MN Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Credentialed Advocate (Advanced Level) with designation of Comprehensive Victim Intervention Specialist; Volunteer Impact Leadership – MN Association of Volunteer Administrators; and Technology of Participation Facilitation Methods – The Institute of Cultural Affairs. To learn more about training opportunities provided by VBI, call 1-800-627-8220 or email VBI.