The Difference Between Personal Mission And Vision Statements—And Why You Need Both
Mission and vision statements are usually associated with businesses, corporations, and the global workforce. Companies typically craft these statements when they’re founded in order to guide the organization and its people toward their goals. They’re big-picture intentions for what they plan to achieve and how they want to do business. You may be surprised to find out, however, that coming up with a mission and vision statement can also be helpful for individuals. Knowing where you are headed, and how you want to get there, can ensure you have attainable goals and a clear purpose, and can even lead to a better everyday life. Let’s take a closer look at the difference between vision and mission statements, and discuss how these statements can help you reach your goals.
Mission Vs. Vision
Mission and vision are often confused, but their purposes and content are actually quite different.
To put it another way, a vision statement focuses on what you want to do and a mission statement focuses on how you’ll do it—the “what/why” versus the “how.” That’s why the vision has to be outlined first: because you can’t plan a trip until you’ve chosen the destination.
When a business uses these statements, they often do so to establish company direction and create economic opportunity for their employees, customers, and stakeholders. We can illustrate this with another example: say you have an e-commerce business. Your vision may be to be known by customers and the world’s professionals as a leader in the e-commerce industry. Your mission would then be the way you want to get there, which would require understanding your company’s core values. Do they want to be a customer-centric company, or focus more on the needs of stakeholders? All of this could be defined by a proper mission statement.
One of the best mission statement examples comes from the Walt Disney Company. Their mission is “to entertain, inform, and inspire people around the globe through the power of unparalleled storytelling, reflecting the iconic brands, creative minds, and innovative technologies that make ours the world’s premier entertainment company.” Another example would be Google’s mission statement, which is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally available and useful.” Both of these statements provide a clear idea of each company’s essence and intentions, as well as how they plan to achieve their objectives.
How Individuals Can Use Mission And Vision Statements
While vision and mission statements are most often used to describe what a company aims to do, individuals or families may also develop their statements to direct their actions and activities. They can help orient one’s life and guide one’s decisions to be in line with their longer-term goals and core values.
How To Write Your Own Vision Statement
Your vision statement can relate to what you want to achieve in general, or it can be specifically career-oriented or relate to your everyday life. Either way, it’s all about your goals and where you want to be in the future. While it’s generally important for goals to be realistic, one of the great things about the human spirit is the ability to dream big. You shouldn’t be afraid to shoot for the stars when working on your vision. Your vision will relate to what you want to achieve in the coming years or even decades, not something you want to get done by next week, so there is no need to rush.
Vision statements are usually short—just a sentence or two. To form yours, ask yourself what you want most out of life or your career. Some questions that could lead your own vision statement examples might include:
- What does success and economic opportunity look like to you?
- What do you want life to look like for you?
- If you have opinions you believe can have an impact on the world, how will you spread ideas to others?
- Where are you, what have you achieved, and who is around you when you picture your dream future?
In other words, what’s important to you—so important that you’re ready to orient your entire future in that direction? It might be something specific, like getting a certain degree and moving to a certain place. Or, it might be more general, like prioritizing your health, time spent with family, adventure, social impact, etc. Only you know what’s important enough to make the cut.
As you write, it can be helpful to use personal, present-tense statements such as “I am” or “I have” because it’s easier to project yourself into your future success this way. Make sure to only talk about what you can and will do since you’re only in charge of your own actions and decisions. Craft a vision statement that excites and inspires you. If it doesn’t, it’s probably not the right one. One study found that well-planned vision statements that are characterized by “conciseness, clarity, abstractness, stability, future orientation, challenge, and desirability or ability to inspire” are associated with higher performance outcomes. So if you want to build a future you love and are proud of, a vision statement can help.
How To Write Your Own Mission Statement
Once you’ve got your vision statement down, you can move on to your mission statement. Remember, a mission statement defines what your approach to reaching your vision-statement goal(s) will be. You can refer back to it over time to help guide you along the way.
To craft your mission statement, ask yourself questions like: “How will I get there?” “What’s my approach?” “What will be my guiding principle as I make decisions?” Like your vision statement, your personal mission should only be a sentence or two. That means you’ll have to distill your approach to life down into just a few words.
Let’s look at a quick example. A personal vision statement could be, “I want to devote my life to creating and distributing art that moves people and engenders more love and understanding in the world.” The corresponding mission statement for this vision could be, “I will let myself be led by curiosity and compassion with an aim to amplify positivity and do no harm”.
Getting Help Envisioning Your Future
In order to write personal vision and mission statements, it helps to know yourself so you can be in touch with what you want out of life. If you’re having trouble identifying these things, it might help to get the guidance of a mental health professional. Their job is to provide a safe, nonjudgmental space where you can get to know yourself better and explore your hopes and dreams for your own life. A therapist can also help you gain self-confidence so you can pursue your goals more assuredly, or work through past trauma that may be holding you back.
You can seek mental health support in person or online. If you prefer the virtual format you can get matched with a licensed therapist through an online therapy platform like BetterHelp. You’ll simply fill out a quick questionnaire about your needs and preferences, and you’ll have the opportunity to connect with a therapist who matches them. You can speak with them via whatever format provides you the utmost convenience, including by phone, video call, and/or online chat. Since research suggests that online therapy offers similar benefits to traditional, in-person sessions, many people find it to be a more comfortable option. Read on for reviews of BetterHelp counselors from clients in similar situations.
“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!”
Which comes first, vision vs. mission?
When drawing up a business mission and vision statement, the vision statement should be the first focus. The vision statement outlines what the organization hopes to achieve in the long run.
What is the difference between mission and vision?
While they are typically designed to work together, vision and mission statements are fundamentally different:
- Vision statements aim to outline the long-term goals (usually 5-10 years) or desired future state of an organization or project. It should be aspirational and provide inspiration for forward-thinking.
- Mission statements focus on the present and describe the organization's core purpose, values, and activities. It answers, "What do we do, and why do we exist?"
What makes a good vision statement?
A good vision statement should reflect a company's personality and bring inspiration to its employees. It should be uniquely crafted based on how the organization wants to grow and make an impact.
What is an example of a vision?
Amazon provides an excellent example of how a vision statement can convey the organization's ultimate purpose and outline its expectations and performance standards:
"To be Earth's most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices."
Why is having a vision and mission important?
Vision and mission statements are essential in organizations because they provide focus and alignment for the company's employees. They inspire and motivate the organization or project toward its desired future while staying true to its core values and purpose.
How do you create a vision and mission?
Creating a vision and mission statement is an essential step in defining the purpose and direction of an organization. Here are some tips for creating an authentic, productive vision and mission statement.
- Gather input from key stakeholders, team members, and anyone else responsible for decision-making. Input should be sought from individuals with a vested interest in the organization or project and can provide valuable perspectives and insights.
- Consider the organization's core values that guide its actions and decisions. For example, values could include integrity, innovation, customer focus, or sustainability.
- Clearly define the reason for the organization's existence. For example, what problems does it aim to solve? Whom does it serve? What needs does it address?
- Envision the ideal state of the company's future. Think about what success looks like and be specific about long-term goals.
- After the statements are written, they should be disseminated with stakeholders and team members for feedback, then changes as necessary based on feedback and further reflection.
- Once all are satisfied with the statements, they should be finalized and communicated to all stakeholders internally and externally.
- After they are widely spread, the vision and mission statements should serve as a continuing guidepost for decision-making, strategy development, and daily operations.
- The vision and mission statements should be periodically reviewed and, if necessary, updated to remain relevant and aligned with the company's goals and values.
Here are some suggestions to keep in mind when crafting a vision and mission statement:
- Keep it concise (ideally one sentence) and memorable.
- Use powerful and evocative language.
- Make it future-oriented.
- Ensure it aligns with the core company values.
- Avoid jargon and complex language.
- Clearly state what your organization does.
- Explain why you do it (the purpose).
- Mention your core values or principles.
- Keep it to the point and easy to understand.
Is mission more important than vision?
The mission isn't necessarily more or less important than the vision statement for most businesses. A company's focus often shifts and evolves. Depending on what's happening at the time, the mission statement may be more critical. At other times, it's necessary to focus on the vision first.
What are examples of vision and mission statements?
Mission and vision statements from a wide range of companies are easily available with a quick online search. Here are two prominent examples:
Vision statement: "To create a better everyday life for many people."
Mission statement: "to offer a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them."
Vision statement: "To create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world's transition to electric vehicles."
Mission statement: "To accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy."
How can I improve my personal vision?
Improving your vision can encompass several aspects of your life, including your goals, values, self-awareness, and long-term plans. Here are some steps you can take to enhance your personal vision:
- Take time for self-reflection about your values, beliefs, and priorities. Answer the critical questions like "What matters most to you in life? What do you want to achieve, experience, or contribute to the world?
- Define specific, achievable goals for different areas of your life, such as career, relationships, health, and personal growth. Ensure these goals align with your values and vision.
- Break down your goals into smaller, actionable steps to create a long-term plan for how you'll achieve them over time.
- Identify the most important goals and priorities in your life. Avoid spreading yourself too thin by pursuing too many things at once— concentrate your efforts on what truly matters.
- Seek guidance through books, articles, or biographies of people who inspire you. Learn from their experiences and perspectives. Attend seminars or workshops related to your interests.
- Cultivate self-awareness to understand your strengths, weaknesses, values, and motivations. Self-awareness is crucial for making informed decisions that align with your vision.
- Be open and willing to change and adapt your vision as circumstances evolve. Sometimes, the path to your vision may require adjustments or detours.
- Surround yourself with a support network of friends, family, mentors, and like-minded individuals who can provide guidance, encouragement, and accountability.
- Act on your vision by consistently working towards your goals. Remember that small steps and effort add up over time, even if progress is slow.
- Learn from your setbacks and failures along the way. Use these experiences as opportunities for growth and learning. Adjust your approach and keep moving forward.
- Stay persistent and focused on your long-term goals.
- Recognize and celebrate your achievements along the way, no matter how large or small. This can boost your motivation and reinforce your commitment to your personal vision.
- Revisit and/or revise your vision statement periodically to ensure it remains relevant and meaningful as your life evolves.
- If you struggle to define or pursue your vision, consider consulting with a life coach, therapist, or counselor for guidance and support.
What is a personal mission statement like?
A strong mission statement should define your purpose in a clear, concise, and memorable way to guide you in making decisions, setting goals, and prioritizing your actions to align with your core beliefs and aspirations. It should resonate with you deeply and serve as a source of motivation and guidance in your personal and professional life.
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