Inspiration is Overrated: You Need a Mission Statement

Starting a new project or setting a big goal is exciting. At the beginning we’re flooded with ideas and enthusiasm for the work involved. On top of that, the internet opens up a world of inspirational stories, images, and examples to use as fuel. But what happens when those stories and images start to lose their appeal?

Setting a goal for ourselves requires a mission statement. It’s something to fall back on whenever we start to feel discouraged. Our mission statement serves as motivation when other people’s stories begin to feel like unrealistic dreams.

Relying on Inspiration is Like Gambling with Your Goals

Placing your hopes and dreams on a foundation of pure inspiration is risky. It’s a little like flipping a coin. Sure, you might succeed. There are lots of people who have achieved great things by finding someone or something incredibly inspiring.

But the chance of failure is pretty high too. And when inspirational people or stories start to feel like pressure, they become heavy. Their story can weigh you down and actually keep you from finding your unique version of success.

How a Mission Statement Helps Us Find Our Own Path Success

Setting goals based purely on inspiration often involves attempting to recreate success based on someone else’s story. Creating our own mission statement gives us an end goal that allows us to dictate how we reach that point.

When we realize that our successes are not going to look exactly like anyone else’s, we can figure out what works best for us.

3 Steps to Writing Your Personal Mission Statement

A mission statement can be whatever we need it to be. However, there are three steps that make the creation of a personal mission statement simple and effective:

Step 1: Consider the overarching life goal that pertains to your current project/mission.

We want to imagine the creation of a mission statement to be like traveling down a funnel. If you’ve worked in marketing, you know that this is how we talk about moving customers from “shopping” to “purchase.”

We want our brain to be put in “purchase” mode whenever we read/write/repeat our mission statement.

In order to achieve that, we need to start broad and boil things down until we really find the heart behind the goal that will keep us moving forward. Our bigger overarching life goal is really the big “why” behind our definition of success.

Not even sure where to start? Read this first.

Real life example: My husband and I have a big life goal of providing financial stability for our family. The broad “why” behind this goal is to avoid the physical and emotional stress that financial unpreparedness can cause. When we started our “paying off student debt” mission, our big life goal was working towards financial stability. That’s the top of the funnel.

Step 2: Condense and analyze what you will truly define as your end goal/success.

Once we consider what our overarching goal is, in relation to our current project, we can begin to boil it down until we uncover our concrete mission/direction.

The more solid and concentrated version of our mission is what we use to draft our mission statement.

Real life example: I started by sharing my vision/daydream of having paid off all our student debt. My husband and I took a step back and discussed our overarching life goal: to provide a financially stable future for our family. Using those pieces of information we were able to analyze what success would mean for us. We defined our success as: paying off the student loans before buying a house, doing it as quickly as we were able, and being consistent with our budget.

Another epic daydream I am SO glad I shared with my husband? Going to Disney World! We made it happen! Read more about that here if you’d like.

Step 3: Write down the concentrated end goal in mission statement format.

After analyzing our personal definition of success, we are able to take those pieces and put them together to create an actionable mission statement. It might take a little time to get the wording right, but it’s worth the time to find the right way to state the mission.

We want to be able to look at that mission statement and use it as a shield against whatever mental or cultural roadblocks come up along the way.

Writing the mission statement in the correct format is simple. It needs to start with action and end with our success. It might start off as a little bland, but depending on the goal, more intense language helps keep us on track.

Real life example: Our mission statement started off as “We will put at least $$$ towards our student loans every month and pay them off completely before we buy a home.” but ended up being “We will defeat our impatience to crush our debt and buy a home for our family.” Those words helped us to remember that we were fighting ourselves and the culture we live in to achieve success. That was the concentrated mission statement that carried us through temptation to give up when inspirational stories didn’t cut it.

How to Use Your Mission Statement as Long-Term Motivation

Even the world’s best mission statement won’t work like magic. We still have to follow through on using it to keep the fire lit. We can’t let our enthusiasm die out at the first sign of conflict. These 2 ways to use the mission statement can help to keep the ball rolling.

Write It Down

Research has shown that writing things down helps our brains commit to remembering. Keep a little notepad at your desk or in your bag and take it out every day or week to write down your mission statement.

It might feel silly to write it down over and over again. But when you have a project or a goal that is going to take time and patience to achieve, your enthusiasm will waver.

Committing to writing down your mission statement on a regular basis will help to cement the goal and your definition of success.

Say It Out Loud

Of course, saying it to yourself is the best option for more personal goals. Talking about your goals with yourself works a little bit like self-affirmation. You can even leave little hand written notes around the house (refer to “write it down” above haha).

You can also say it to other people, but in either case keep saying your goal out loud.

If you’re on a mission that you’re okay with sharing, go ahead and speak about it to another person every so often. Not only will saying it make it feel more important, but telling other people might give you some additional accountability to follow through.

More on Goal-Setting and Defeating Cultural Norms

I won’t lie, there are definitely days where I just don’t feel motivated to meet my goals. In fact, there are days where I take myself off track and have to fight to straighten things back out. We’re all human and we’re all works in progress.

Check out my other posts about fighting our cultural “need more” mindset, and accepting that we’re all works in progress. Get on board and start making goals that help you to achieve your version of success in a healthy way.

Do you write mission statements? Or do you prefer to use inspiration? Share your thoughts below!

Goal Setting Depends on a Strong Mission Statement
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