Why You Need a Personal Mission Statement

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Take that vision board to another level with a personal mission statement.
Image by Nanette Saylor via Flickr/Creative Commons

I have commitment issues.

No, I don’t mean I can’t settle down in a monogamous relationship. I’ve been happily married for seven years.

My problem is a tendency to commit to too many things at once. I say “Yes” to nearly everything.

Would you be interested in leading a bible study at church?

Me: Of course!

Will you help me plan a networking event for local bloggers?

Me: Sure!

Will you write a script and help produce a play for our school’s black history program?

Me: You betcha!

This is just a small sampling of all the activities I have juggled at once and this is all in addition to my full time job as an English teacher at a school for gifted students, my part-time job as a freelance journalist for several publications, and the work I do for See Jane Write

Because of this Yes I can! attitude of mine, people assume I’m the type of person who loves to stay busy. The truth is I’d like nothing more than to sit on the sofa all day and watch reruns of Law & Order SVU.

But I can’t because I’m scared. I’m terrified that if I don’t say yes to everything I’ll miss something big. I’ll miss my chance to do the one thing that will eventually make all my dreams come true.

Perhaps you have these same commitment issues. If so, I have news for you, for us: this behavior is actually preventing us from achieving our goals. We’re doing it all wrong.

Over-commitment leads to a life of mediocrity. We’re becoming a Jill of all trades, master of none. We’re doing a good job at many things, but a great job at nothing.

So what should we, the grossly over-committed, do? We need a personal mission statement. A personal mission statement will help us say “Yes” to the things that matter most and “No” to everything else.

So let’s do this. Sit down and ask yourself these questions:

What do you believe is your purpose?
What is your passion?
What would you spend your days doing (besides watching reruns of Law & Order SVU) if money weren’t an issue?

After contemplating these questions I came to the conclusion that my purpose is to empower other women through language, specifically the written word. Therefore, my personal mission statement is:

To empower women through language by writing inspiring, informative, and entertaining works of creative non-fiction and motivating women to create literary art of their own.

With my newly drafted personal mission statement in hand I recently eliminated all activities (with the exception of fitness and some church and family responsibilities) that did not somehow further this mission. And I learned to say no. This was hard. I had to let go of some things I really enjoyed, and turn down some things I really wanted to do, but I knew I was making the right decision.

A personal mission statement can do even more than clear your schedule. It can also keep you motivated when times are tough. So even if I’m writing a freelance article for pennies per word or toiling away on a blog I sometimes feel no one reads, I stay encouraged knowing I’m working toward my mission. And yes, even if I’m writing a not-so-exciting story on a liability insurance company, I believe the very sight of my byline has the potential to inspire a woman who wants to write.

Furthermore, when focused on my mission I know a bad day is just fuel for another essay.
Five years ago when I was a columnist for a weekly paper I got hit by a car while crossing a downtown street. After my body slammed into the wet concrete on this cool, rainy night my first thought (once I realized I wasn’t dead) was, “This is going to make a great column!”

Those are words from a woman on a mission.

What’s your personal mission statement?


  1. I really like this, but I'm afraid that I don't know what my purpose is yet. There are a ton of things that I want to do and they don't really seem to fit together very well...