Writing a Personal Mission Statement

As your formal education comes to a close (and I stress formal because learning is a life-long process), it is important to take some time and think about what it is you want out of your future career as a creative professional. Writing a professional mission statement is as important, and albeit difficult, as creating a logo for yourself. There are a number of ways to discover what you want to accomplish as a designer. It may change five years from now or by next week — and that's ok. Having a place to start focusing on who you want to be, what you want to do, and the experiences you want to have in the future is what your mission and goals are all about. A well-known study conducted at the Harvard Business School proves this point well:


A Goals to Mission Process

Think about short term goals first, and then expand as far as you'd like into the future. Try listing the following:

5 Semester Goals

4 Six-Month Goals

3 One-Year Goals

2 Five-Year Goals

1 Lifetime Goal

Remember they can change at any time, but as you read in the Harvard MBA study there is a HUGE difference between thinking about a goal and writing it down.

Once you've written your goals, pull out those most important to you over the course of the next 6-18 months. Try focusing on these to create a mission statement. Just like your goals, the mission is flexible and revisable, but it should succinctly communicate who you want to be and where you want to go, professionally speaking. If you look for examples online you'll find a barrage of wordy statements filed with buzz words and action-oriented jargon. Here are two very different examples worth reading:

AIGA, the professional association for design, is committed to advancing design as a professional craft, strategic tool and vital cultural force.

ESPN: To serve sports fans wherever sports are watched, listened to, discussed, debated, read about or played.

Create a sincere statement for yourself. Limit it to one or two sentences and focus on your professional goals in a way that is not too specific. This will help you to remember what it is you really want to focus on, and give you the freedom to interpret it in multiple ways. Memorize and recite it daily for a week — at the least, this process will challenge you to question what's next. Hopefully it provides you with a few answers as well.