Mission statements are a great way to answer the questions who, what, when, where, why, and how. Companies, organizations, schools, and individuals all use mission statements to convey what they hope to achieve as well as their values and vision.
Like a business sells a product and a nonprofit sells a cause, with your mission statement you are essentially selling yourself. You are telling an employer, school or organization what you can do for them.
A personal statement answers some important questions: What are your goals? What is your purpose? What do you enjoy? You can answer these questions in the form of a mission statement.
- I constantly strive to be the best version of myself.
- My mission is to live honestly and to stay true to myself.
- I aspire to learn at least one new thing each day.
- I want to serve others.
- I wish to make people happy.
- I will live every day as though it were my last.
- My purpose in life is to love hard and laugh often.
- To make the world a better place for all.
- To provide communities with better opportunities.
- To always try, even if I don't succeed.
- To treat others the way I wish to be treated.
- To make at least one person smile every day.
- To live a life worth remembering.
These famous and successful entrepreneurs, activists and personalities have one thing in common: They began with a vision. They put this vision into words in the following mission statements.
- "To make people happy" – Walt Disney
- “... to be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be.” – Oprah Winfrey
- "If something is important enough you should try, even if the probable outcome is failure." - Elon Musk
- “Not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” – Maya Angelou
- “I shall not fear anyone on Earth. I shall fear only God. I shall not bear ill will toward anyone. I shall not submit to injustice from anyone. I shall conquer untruth by truth. And in resisting untruth, I shall put up with all suffering.” – Mahatma Gandhi
- "I want to serve the people. And I want every girl, every child to be educated" – Malala Yousafzai
- “To use my gifts of intelligence, charisma, and serial optimism to cultivate the self-worth and net-worth of women around the world.” - Amanda Steinberg
Sometimes a mission statement can be a personal goal you put in writing. This can take the form of a short-term plan, a long-term plan or a lifetime goal. Having this mission statement handy can prove useful in job interviews when you get the dreaded "five-year plan" question or to help you focus on what matters to you.
- In five years I hope to start my own business, buy a house and have a family.
- I want to use my gifts and skills to empower myself and the people around me.
- To use my creativity and passion for learning to inspire my students, who will in turn inspire each other and the world around them.
- To empower women to chase their dreams and to be confident in the workplace as well as in their own skin.
- In one year's time, I aspire to be a certified nurse who is helping save and change people's lives.
- I aspire to a promotion at my company through hard work, building relationships and learning from experts in the field.
Students applying for college, graduate school or even some high schools are often required to write an application essay that includes a personal mission statement.
For students in school or getting ready to go to move on to higher education, a strong mission statement is helpful not just on a resume or application, but to help you focus on what you hope to achieve with your education.
- To acquire knowledge that I can use in the workforce and in my daily life to better myself and the world around me.
- To build a network of like-minded individuals with a passion for learning.
- Pursuing an education will help me open doors as well as open my mind to new possibilities.
- To discover my passion and where my skills are best suited.
- To become the person I was meant to be.
When you are applying for a college, it is important to focus on your personal goals and past achievements. This can also give an insight into your writing skills, reasons for applying for the school, and personality and passions to set you apart from the crowd.
I have dreamed of attending Columbia University ever since I toured the campus two years ago. I was taken in not only by the beauty of the campus, but the sense of community. The professors encouraged my love of science and ambition to pursue studying Biology. I felt like I belonged then, and if given the opportunity I know I would learn from and contribute to the program over the next four years.
In higher education, you typically focus on a more specialized area of study. In this example, an English student applying for a graduate program highlights their past work and research. This shows that they are well-versed in this topic and wish to explore it further across Wilde’s other works.
I plan to contribute to the graduate program by focusing my research on Oscar Wilde's literature and the themes of vanity and social obligation as they apply throughout his works such as The Picture of Dorian Gray, Salomé, The Importance of Being Earnest, etc. I studied British literature in my undergraduate program and my thesis The Picture of Dorian Gray and the Art of Superficiality was published in the university’s literary journal. If accepted into this program, I hope to continue my research and work closely with professionals in the field of Victorian literature.
Professional mission statements can often overlap with personal mission statements depending on the context. When you are applying for a job, you may choose to include a personal mission statement (also known as a personal summary statement or objective) on your resume or cover letter. These can be short sentences that pack a punch.
To lead my team by example, to inspire them as they inspire me, and to share that inspiration with our customers.
The previous statement is vague but indicates that the person applying for the position is dedicated and hard-working.
Experienced administrative assistant of 10 years with a demonstrated track record of project and database management. Offering the highest quality of leadership, field expertise, superlative understanding of communications trends, billing systems, and meeting standards as well as tireless dedication to the brand if I am chosen for this position.
The following statement displays the applicant’s passion for their work and that they would bring that same passion to this position if given the opportunity. This kind of statement can be a strong way to close a cover letter.
If chosen for this position, I will coach this team with integrity and honor. I will expect of my players no more and no less than I would expect from myself. Furthermore, I will dedicate myself to giving us the best possible chance of being winners on the field or off.
If you do not have a lot of work experience, your mission statement can highlight your academic, charitable and personal achievements as well as what you hope to accomplish and what you could bring to this position.
I bring to the table five years of experience in customer service in the retail industry where I regularly assisted and aided customers, managed inventory and represented the company’s brand through exemplary service. Moreover, I have volunteered with my local community center for over seven years mentoring children and helping them with their homework, raising money for community events and assisting with maintenance projects. If hired, I would contribute to your company with my strong interpersonal skills, work ethic and dedication to brand integrity.
In this example, a student or employee states their intention to do volunteer work with a particular organization. They also clarify when they will do this work and for how long.
I plan to contribute to the volunteer organization by spending four hours each Saturday donating my time and by proposing new ideas to the organization's leaders.
The following example demonstrates how this person will contribute to their community and what specifically they will do for the environment locally.
I will contribute positively to this community by cleaning up trash at the park, and by teaching others the importance of environmental care.
Nonprofit organizations use mission statements to convey what their cause is and how they plan to achieve their goals.
Catholic Charities USA serves a number of people and contributes to multiple causes. Their mission statement focuses on the broader goals and outreach of the organization.
"The mission of Catholic Charities is to provide service to people in need, to advocate for justice in social structures, and to call the entire church and other people of good will to do the same."
The organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving or MADD gets straight to the point with their mission statement. The name of the organization tells you what their goal is, and the mission statement makes it blatantly clear by highlighting specific forms of driving under the influence.
"The mission of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes, and prevent underage drinking."
PETA or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has a longer mission statement, but one that gives a thorough overview of their goals and track record.
"People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is the largest animal rights organization in the world, with more than 3 million members and supporters. PETA focuses its attention on the four areas in which the largest numbers of animals suffer the most intensely for the longest periods of time: on factory farms, in the clothing trade, in laboratories, and in the entertainment industry. We also work on a variety of other issues, including the cruel killing of beavers, birds, and other "pests" as well as cruelty to domesticated animals. PETA works through public education, cruelty investigations, research, animal rescue, legislation, special events, celebrity involvement, and protest campaigns."
When choosing a school, what is it that draws you in? Is it a prestigious name? A strong track record? A beautiful campus? For some, it is the mission statement.
Harvard University is one of the most prestigious and famous universities in the world. Their mission statement is lengthy, but it highlights many of the factors that make the school so legendary.
"The mission of Harvard College is to educate the citizens and citizen-leaders for our society. We do this through our commitment to the transformative power of a liberal arts and sciences education. Beginning in the classroom with exposure to new ideas, new ways of understanding, and new ways of knowing, students embark on a journey of intellectual transformation. Through a diverse living environment, where students live with people who are studying different topics, who come from different walks of life and have evolving identities, intellectual transformation is deepened and conditions for social transformation are created. From this we hope that students will begin to fashion their lives by gaining a sense of what they want to do with their gifts and talents, assessing their values and interests, and learning how they can best serve the world."
Georgetown University is another very old and elite institution that emphasizes its past, present and future in its mission statement.
"... Georgetown College is committed to the Jesuit traditions of an integrated education and of productive research in the liberal arts, including fine arts, humanities, languages, sciences, and social sciences. The College seeks to expand the imagination, foster the life of the spirit, cultivate lifelong learning, encourage service to God and humanity, and promote respect for diversity in an age of global community."
A shorter statement that still packs a punch comes from the University of Phoenix.
"University of Phoenix provides access to higher education opportunities that enable students to develop knowledge and skills necessary to achieve their professional goals, improve the productivity of their organizations and provide leadership and service to their communities."
When you buy your favorite brands, do you ever stop to consider why you buy from that company and not another one that makes the same product? The likely answer is that the top brands know how to market their products, and one of the ways they do this is by having a clear mission statement.
The mega-corporation Amazon makes this straightforward statement:
"Our vision is to be earth's most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online."
Sometimes it’s best to keep it simple. While Facebook has rebranded itself over the years, it has maintained this brief but memorable mission statement to “make the world more connected” or:
"… to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together."
Similar to the previous examples, Nike keeps their mission statement short and to the point. Additionally, the alliteration in “inspiration” and “innovation” helps to make the statement catchy and stick in people’s minds.
"To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world."
Organizations, groups and individuals all use mission statements to communicate their goals, whether professional or personal. Mission statements can be quite lengthy, or they can be a simple sentence or two. This usually comes down to how much information you need to convey. For example, a company may want a short, catchy statement, or they may opt for a lengthy but informative statement depending on what they wish to say. The same is true for you. Typically, if you are writing a mission statement for a college application, it will need to be longer and more detailed whereas a mission statement on your resume should be no more than a couple of lines.
Mission statements are a great way to communicate your message and goals to others. Look for other ways to express your professional and personal goals in writing.