The Difference Between Vision And Mission

By William Drake|Updated April 5, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Aaron Dutil , LMHC, LPC

Most companies have both vision and mission statements. Just like people, companies need a direction. A lack of direction has shuttered many businesses. In addition to direction, just like people, businesses need to set and obtain goals while knowing how to go about achieving them. At the same time, a company’s employees need a sense of cohesiveness in order to work together in harmony. These ideas are encapsulated by the mission and vision statements, and this article helps to explain the difference which is crucial for any business to understand.

Mission Statement

What Exactly Is Vision And Mission, And How Do They Affect Business?

The mission statement of a company is a declaration of what they do every day. It defines the day-to-day activities of their work and every person who works for the organization contributes to that mission. Think of it like the person who sets daily or weekly goals for themselves to accomplish. It describes to employees and customers what is being done right now. It is present-focused and can change very quickly depending on the circumstances of the business’s market.

For a company’s employees, it gives workers a sense of purpose about the value of their work. It is a broad statement that describes the cohesiveness of an organization, even if they do multiple and varied types of work in their individual departments. Many times mission statements often start with statements such as, “We provide…” or “We offer…” or “We are a…” The mission statements establish a framework for the behavior of those working in the company. Performance standards can be based on a company’s mission statement and they can guide decision making for employees at various levels of the company.

Vision Statement

A vision statement is a clear, definitive statement of what you want to accomplish, and what the world will look like once you’ve accomplished your mission. Think of it as the perfect scenario that you’re working toward accomplishing. Also, knowing what is important in the community you are working in is oftentimes extremely important in crafting a vision statement. Unlike the mission statement, a vision statement is future-oriented. It provides a sense of what the company values to those both inside the company and out. At times, some companies will use their vision statement for public relations purposes.

Since a vision statement is used to direct overall strategic goals for a company, they tend not to change very often. Each goal is another step on the path toward achieving the overall vision of the company. Vision statements are written in the present tense but still serve the future of the enterprise. When a vision statement can be read in the present tense and be accurate, an organization will know that their vision is being achieved. For example, a vision statement for a nonprofit who works to eliminate homelessness may read, “All children will live in safe, affordable housing.” Therefore, making sure children are in safe, appropriate housing is the overall strategic goal of that non-profit.

A lack of vision is like driving down a road without a map. You may be moving forward but you have no idea of your actual destination. A good vision statement will create that much-needed direction and will express that direction’s importance.

The Difference Between Vision And Mission

The primary difference between a vision and mission statement is the timeline, although there can be an overlap between the two. In general, a mission statement defines what an organization is currently doing, while a vision statement is basically the ultimate goal of what they’d like to accomplish. The mission is what people do in order to achieve the vision. It is the how (mission) versus the why (vision).

The mission statement can also be used as a cohesive management tool. It is mutable and changes when circumstances or the needs of the company change. Employees’ duties, actions, and behaviors should all fall under the mission of the organization. Because the vision statement is a goal that may or may not be elusive, it’s not an effective way to direct individual employee behavior and expectations regarding day to day activities. However, it does give an employee an idea of what the organization hopes to accomplish as a team. The vision is always forward-thinking and because of this, it cannot be used for the daily operations of a company.

At times, different language is used by companies to describe vision and mission statements based on the type of organization. For instance, in the non-profit sector, organizations will often use the term action plans instead of “mission statement.” The term core values is sometimes used instead of “vision statement” as well. No matter what term is used, it is meant to describe overall goals (mission) and broad strategy (vision).

Personal Vision and Mission Statements

What Exactly Is Vision And Mission, And How Do They Affect Business?

While most often used by organizations, sometimes families or individuals develop their own mission and vision statements to direct their actions and activities. For instance, it helps to ask questions such as: What are my dreams? and What inspires me? The language might be different, for instance, people may express their vision statement with the use of a personal credo in lieu of a vision statement. Either way, the purpose is the same.

If you think you could benefit from a personal mission or vision statement, or if you are struggling with writing one for your company, or need support managing your team members effectively under your mission, a counselor with experience in behavioral counseling and habit effectiveness can help. Knowing who you are and where you are headed is important information to understand.

Mission and vision statements are crucial for an individual or business. A counselor who is experienced in this area can provide insight and support to help you create the mission and vision – and ultimately the team – that you’re hoping for in order to succeed in life. BetterHelp offers this service online so you can get the support you need without leaving the office or home. Below you can read two reviews of counselors at BetterHelp who have helped others deal with issues related to personal drive, vision, and mission.

Counselor Reviews

“In the short span of 9 months, Shonnie has become like one of my best friends. At first, I was skeptical of doing therapy since I’m very “psychologically healthy”. A few challenges in my personal life lead me to try therapy for a month. Now I consider it an important part of my growth as a businessman and leader within my community. Thank you Shonnie for being so helpful during the recent difficulties; I am very lucky to have found you!”

“Tyson did a really good job and I can finally say that I don’t need therapy right now, since I am in much better shape. He was my counselor for about 5 or 6 months for depression, best therapist I’ve had. He helped me accomplish many of my career and personal goals, and I am much happier than I was now. When you align with your values with career, family, or anything else in your life, your life becomes much better. He also left me with a few techniques I can work on so I can continue to work on observing and overcoming my negative thoughts and behaviors. I would highly recommend. Thank you Tyson!”

Conclusion

Mission and vision statements, while primarily geared toward businesses, can help guide us in our professional and private lives. It may be difficult for an individual or company to develop them, but they don’t have to be developed alone. BetterHelp can help with the advice of a behavioral expert at an efficient cost. Your visions and missions are waiting to be engaged. Take the first step today.

Helpful mental health resources delivered to your inbox
For Additional Help & Support With Your Concerns
Speak with a Licensed Therapist
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.