making a personal vision / mission statement
July 14, 2007 2:15 PM   Subscribe

Do you use a personal vision and/or mission statement? I have one that is really vague and generic (~= golden rule, that level) and I am wondering about taking a couple hours and writing down something more formal. Searching google, etc. for HOW-TO's brings up zilch.
posted by bukvich to Grab Bag (17 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
A course I took from a life coaching company suggested identifying numerous significant areas of your life (such as health, family, career, mindset, etc) and writing a paragraph -- or a page -- describing, in first person and present tense, exactly what your life will be like when you reach your self-improvement goals. For example, "I am an energetic, vibrant person with vitality to spare. I look forward to exercise and prefer healthy food..." You get the picture.

Even if that's not the format you prefer, you could try the exercise and then highlight sentences/phrases that really stand out to you. Combining those might be sufficient to you as a vision statement, or at least it might inspire you in the right direction.
posted by justonegirl at 2:29 PM on July 14, 2007

I have ideas but if I were to write them down it would once only, and I would destroy it afterwards. I think it would be worth it just to formally think them through and compose it on paper. For now I have them committed to memory and they seem to show up fine when I need them. I'd be a little embarrassed if someone found my written life manifesto - it's a bit "Tom Cruise in Magnolia" and probably not that useful as a document unless you plan on memorising the whole thing, or laminating it for ease of use while on the move.
posted by fire&wings at 2:33 PM on July 14, 2007

Try Googling "artist statement", that might be helpful. Artists routinely have to write (usually) short statements about their work and why they do it which basically amounts to a mission statement.
posted by bradbane at 3:05 PM on July 14, 2007

I haven't done it on paper, but I think of about half-a-dozen things that I've heard or read that have significant meaning to me. Some of them came from various members of my family, some from the historically famous, and one of them from a high school buddy.

I guess I should write those things down somewhere. They just float around in my head for now.
posted by Wild_Eep at 3:49 PM on July 14, 2007

Okay well what do you plan to do with this vision statement? That might help you come up with one.

The reason that companies have mission or vision statements is to help management figure out what to do besides "Stuff that will make us more money", and in fact most vision statements include something about "enhancing shareholder value by..." A vision statement comes into play when you make big decisions, not every day things.
posted by delmoi at 4:05 PM on July 14, 2007

"All babies must eat" pretty much boils down every mission statement ever made.

Because at the root, it's what we're all here doing: making sure the babies have something to eat.
posted by disclaimer at 4:24 PM on July 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

Why not spend less time worry about what your 'mission statement' is... and spend more time/effort actually LIVING and DOING.

Be. Here. Now.

posted by jmnugent at 4:39 PM on July 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

Like Wild_Eep, I have, rattling around in my brain, a bunch of statements I've collected that are useful to me:
"If he is a man of honor in one thing, he is that in all things"
-Raymond Chandler

"To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, — that is genius"

"The warrier knows that he is waiting, and he knows what he is waiting for"

"Love may fail, but courtesy will prevail"
-a fan of Vonnegut's, boiling down all his novels to a single sentence

"Don't believe in your own bullshit"
-My father

So they sit there, those and many more, like an ideal background noise to the decisions I have to make, to the ways I choose to act. Of all of those above, I have to say for me, Emerson might be the most concentrated. Go right out and buy "Self Reliance". (or read it here: It's an amazing mission statement. Like Strunk and White, it should be required reading.
posted by asavage at 4:43 PM on July 14, 2007

Response by poster: > Okay well what do you plan to do with this vision statement?

I want to write them as a Gestalt Experiment, in the spirit of the exercises listed in the book _Born to Win_, by James & Jongeward.

The most useful close approximation I have found (it used to be online but I cannot find it) was a story writing exercise designed by Sam Keen which started off:

1. Answer the old question, "Who am I?" Give 10 answers.

And then there are more questions, the point of it all was to make your life story, and get ideas on how to make your life better.

I found it very useful to do Sam Keen's exercise. I believe it would be similarly useful to a write personal vision statement and a personal mission statement. When I wrote the AskMeta I figured there might be a webpage out there with directions on how to do this.

I know a fellow who has his entire life in excel spreadsheets. Pyramids in '08; Taj Majal in '10; Great Wall of China in '12. His funeral won't have a eulogy; it will have a powerpoint presentation. I have no desire to emulate him.

I just want to take a couple hours and do the writing because I believe it will be of value.
posted by bukvich at 4:51 PM on July 14, 2007

Best answer: The book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People covers how to do this.
posted by orange swan at 6:13 PM on July 14, 2007

Response by poster: orange swan you are warm. But I want to do this well instead of suckily. I loathe Steven Covey.
posted by bukvich at 7:53 PM on July 14, 2007

Good reading here...

At the least it is a good launching point to get your brain in the mind set of coming up with your own.

Here is another one but it seems a bit out there... it poses some question to ask yourself in one's hunt to find out who they are...

I found this one also but you need to set up a login- it might be helpful in understanding yourself before you get started on your statement. Seems to have received good reviews.

Personally, I feel that life changes much like the weather so a mission statement may be an exercise in futility. For the most part I would say that one has lead a successful life if they were able to manage stress, respect others and give something back to the planet before they died. Good luck!
posted by bkeene12 at 7:59 PM on July 14, 2007

I have NON SERVIAM inked across my right wrist.
posted by Netzapper at 9:58 PM on July 14, 2007

I composed this statement last year and have returned to it again and again:

"Pure self-expression is only possible after one discovers that there is nothing one must do, admits there is nothing one ought to do, and accepts that there is rarely anything that one even can do-- and then, with whatever is left of the self, deciding what one WILL do."
posted by hermitosis at 10:08 PM on July 14, 2007

I've adopted this one, and it's served me swimmingly:

"Do it for the lulz."
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 11:05 PM on July 14, 2007

Steve Pavlina's got a method for finding your life purpose, which seems in his estimation to be about the same as a personal mission statement. I had to do it twice before it worked, but yeah, it worked.
posted by vytae at 11:18 PM on July 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

I think like a lot of the posters here, I have a few of these pithy ideas that float around in my head. You could probably find a class on personal visioning that would help you in creating a more specific ideal in this regard.

This one I formulated from studying virtue ethics in college, "Are the things I'm doing right now bringing me closer to, or farther from, the person that I want to become?"
posted by Skwirl at 11:31 PM on July 15, 2007

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