My initiation into the realm of self-help began with a mandatory reading of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens in junior high. Despite it being a dumbed-down version of the classic (complete with dorky cartoons and cheesy anecdotes that my 13-year-old self was way too cool for) I secretly loved it. And, to its credit, a lot of the tips and information in it have stuck with me to this day — especially the idea of the personal mission statement.

We see mission statements all the time: in office lobbies and promotional brochures, on business cards and websites. But mission statements are not just for companies and organizations. As I first learned from 7 Habits, we can create our own as well. Just like a formal mission statement, a personal one will summarize who we want to be (our character), what’s important to us (our values) and what we want to do with our lives (our contributions/achievements).

In essence, a personal mission statement is our WHY? — our raison d’être. It puts forth our individual vision and creates a framework for our goals, helping us answer common life questions such as:

  • Should I continue seeing this person or is it time to date someone new?
  • Is my current career allowing me to thrive or should I consider a new path?
  • Is it more important for me to be able to travel now or to save for a house down the line?

It could be a single sentence, a well-crafted paragraph or a simple list of bullets. The length and format doesn’t matter; what’s important is that it allows us to evaluate the “big picture” of what we’re truly all about.

Keep reading on The Fullest to find out what an effective mission statement looks like, and how to create your own.