Writing a personal mission statement can be a crucial task towards directing your professional and personal activities. The following provides directions for an activity which is meant to assist in creating your personal mission statement.
Authored By: Timothy P. Gauthier, Pharm.D., BCPS-AQ ID
Developing a personal mission statement can be an important step towards identifying the personal and professional path that is right for you. Through acknowledging what is most important to you and what your long-term goals are, you can become better positioned to make those tough life decisions when the time comes.
There is no “right time” to do a personal mission statement and it is a good idea to revisit the topic every few years. However, it may be most important to complete this task when a major life decision is approaching or has just occurred. For people in the pharmacy profession, this may be prior to starting pharmacy school, prior to seeking out post-graduate pharmacy training, prior to starting your first job or a new job as a pharmacist, or when you are faced with a major life event (e.g., getting married, becoming a parent, buying a house, etc.).
Personal mission statements can both orient you to where you hope to go as well as re-direct you in how new developments will impact your long-term goals.
Developing your personal mission statement is similar to writing a set of bylaws. You are looking to set the foundation upon which you will live your life in order to give yourself the best chances for obtaining that which is most important to you.
Remember that this is YOUR personal mission statement. In turn, you may want to consider keeping it private and avoid to much discussion prior to starting so you will not become biased. It is important that you are honest when completing the task, so that the end product is both valid and valuable.
Remember when doing this activity that life is not all about work nor is it all about fun. Life is about finding a balance that is right for you.
The following has been developed from several other personal mission statement exercises. It is three steps. The first two steps take up to an hour each to complete and require uninterrupted time. It is an investment, but it is worth it. The second step requires reflection and consideration over several months.
STEP 1: Do Some Honest Writing
Find a place where you will not be distracted or interrupted. Turn off your cell-phone and disconnect from the internet. Over the next hour, either on a piece of paper or using your computer, write down the answers to the following questions:
Question 1. What do I want to have or what do I want to achieve in life? List up to five things. Note that this does not necessarily include tangible objects.
Question 2. What do I want to do in life? How will what I do relate to my achievements? How have I contributed to other peoples’ lives? Use the following four questions to explore what you want to do during your life.
i. When I envision the future, what do I see?
ii. If there were not limitations on time nor resources, what would I see myself doing?
iii. What activities are of greatest worth in my personal life? In my professional life?
iv. What legacy have you left for others to follow?
Question 3. What do I want to be? Who has been a role model for me? Who has influenced me most and what outstanding characteristics or attributes do I admire in these people? Which characteristics would I like to add to my strengths?
Question 4. How can I best maximize my strengths to produce my ideal future?
i. How could I maximize these strengths in my personal life?
ii. How could I maximize these strengths in my professional life?
iii. Which of my personal weaknesses requires the most attention?
Question 5. Think about yourself at the age of 105 years old. Your time in life is coming to an end and you are asking some people to speak at your memorial service. What would you like to have them say about your life? How will you have made a difference in their lives? How do you want them to remember you? Come up with five or six key roles in your life. For each role select a key person that represents an important relationship tied to that role. You may choose to select family members, co-workers, mentees or others. What would you like these people to say about you as they pay tribute to your life? What is your legacy?
Role Key Person Tribute
Question 6. This is an exercise of 5-minutes of continuous writing. Do not start this until the above has been completed. When you are ready to start this section, prepare yourself to write for 5 minutes non-stop. Do not worry about formatting, spelling or grammar – just write. The idea is that this activity will serve as the base for your personal mission statement.
Step 2. Start molding your mission statement
In a quite place where you will not be interrupted, sit and reflect on the last task you completed, continuously writing for 5 minutes. Reach down into your heart and inner self. Consider your public self, private self and deep inner self. It is in the deepest depths of ourselves that we will find the answers we need to compose our personal mission statement. Use this time to re-work your rough draft and begin shaping your personal mission statement.
Step 3. Reflect and re-work your product
Over the next several months periodically work on your mission statement until it is completed.
Note that you may choose not to share it with others, as this is common to be a very personal document including content for which only you understand the context.
The above content was adapted from: (1) Covey, SR., Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1989), (2) the Franklin-Covey website and (3) the Personal Mission Statement Exercise within the Leadership and Management Academy from the American College of Clinical Pharmacy
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