Develop a personal purpose statement to guide your future

Getting from Point A to Point B is much smoother when a written personal purpose plan has been developed and is used to guide decision-making.

"It is a terrible thing to see and have no vision." -Helen Keller

Several years ago when teaching Business 101 workshops as an educator for Michigan State University Extension, my first objective was to emphasize the importance of a written business plan. The following diagram was used to demonstrate that the most direct route from Point A to Point B occurs when one has a written and well thought-out plan. Without a written plan, it is likely that the path to a successful future will take more time, energy and money.


It is important to remember though that plans are not stagnant and are meant to be reviewed and adjusted regularly. Tweaking keeps the needs and vision of the business on task. Business plans are no different than personal plans.

Personal purpose plans involve a review of what is important to an individual, what they value and where they want to be in the future. An introspective process develops the plan and sets the stage for constructing a personal purpose statement. The personal purpose statement is similar to an executive summary, but written in one or two distinct sentences that will guide the individual’s daily efforts and decisions.

For example, this short personal purpose statement belongs to a friend and colleague. Although geared to her professional life, it has guided her actions beyond work. Whenever a situation occurs and she is unclear how to proceed, she has learned to consistently to turn to her personal purpose statement for guidance.

“My purpose is to help people improve lives through education, melding teaching and learning, as we work to create positive change.”

An article by Susan Barnett through the Academic & Career Engagement Center at Northwestern State University in Louisiana provides a number of personal purpose (or mission) statement templates. Here are two:

“I value [choose one to three values] because [reasons why they are important to you]. Accordingly, I will [what you can do to live by these values].”

“To appreciate and enjoy [things you want to appreciate and enjoy more] by [what you can do to appreciate these things].”

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