How to Define Your Professional Mission and Vision

How to Define Your Professional Mission and Vision

You’ve read your organization’s mission and vision statement. But it wasn’t until recently that someone suggested you create your own statement that outlines your professional mission, and where you’d like to be in the future so you can work toward that. But where do you start? 

You know who you are as a person and a professional, but the idea of creating a document to guide you along your professional journey seems quite a feat.

Here, we’ll explain what a mission and vision statement is, why they’re worth having, and where to get started when you’re ready to craft your own. 

What is a mission and vision statement?

On a basic level, a statement like this articulates what it is you do (your mission) and where you’d like to get to in your career (your vision). It’s a guide that keeps you grounded, while also encouraging your wings to spread a bit.

For some organizations, a mission and vision statement can be quite long, outlining many objectives, but for an individual’s professional use, a few simple paragraphs are all that’s necessary.

Here’s where to get started

A flashing cursor on a blank page never feels like a friend. To start, grab a paper, fold it in half and on one side write “mission” and the other “vision”. Now, give yourself some freedom to journal a bit on what it is you do now and how you’d like to evolve in your career. This isn’t a place to self-edit or aim for perfection. If you’re stuck, here are a few questions you can ask yourself as you jot down your thoughts:

  • What are some of my past achievements?
  • How do I best serve my current clients?
  • What kind of compliments do I get from my clients, peers, or supervisors?
  • What are some of my strengths?
  • How can I build on these strengths?
  • Where would I like to be five, 10, 15 years in the future?
  • When I retire, what would make me feel like I had an accomplished career?

After you have all your thoughts down on paper, take some time to sit with what you’ve written. These will be the base of your mission and vision statement, and taking a moment to reflect will allow you to consider if there’s anything missing from what you’ve already written — or if you need to aim even bigger.

If you’re having trouble with this exercise, call in your most trusted confidants and ask them if there’s anything they can contribute. Friends, family members, colleagues, and your superiors will all have great insight into the work you’re doing now, and your potential for growth over time.

When you’re finally ready, type up something that makes you feel confident, prepared, and excited when you read it. 

Your mission can be simple, as some of the best companies are. TED’s mission, as an example, is to “spread ideas.” And Tesla’s mission is “to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.” Both are simple — eight words and under — and clearly define what it is they mean to do with their businesses. What do you mean to do with yours? 

You may spend more time writing your vision statement. Here is where you can, and should, dream a little. This statement lists what exactly it is you’d like to achieve in the future. It gives you purpose now and something to aspire to. Don’t hold back here. Make it a sentence, a few, or even a couple of paragraphs, but make it something worth working toward.

Be open to your mission and vision statement changing

There’s one more thing you need to know: A professional mission and vision statement shouldn’t be written in stone. You might find that much of what you’ve committed to is something you still value later in your career, but the beauty of being human is the opportunity to learn, grow, challenge ourselves, and change our minds. As you evolve, your ambitions may grow too, and you’ll want to make some room on your statement for those new goals, as well.

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Erin Ollila

Erin Ollila is a content strategist and writer who believes in the power of words and how a message can inform — and even transform — its intended audience. Reach out to her on Instagram at @ErinOllila, or visit her website erinollila.com.