For some people, a job is just a way to fund their lives outside of the workplace. But for a large part of the population — which spends one-third of their lives working — they’d rather have a career that gave them meaning and fulfillment while still providing the financial security to be able to have some fun on the weekends.

Enter the career mission statement.

While the term “mission statement” might make you think more of an organization’s “About Us” page than something you should spend time developing for yourself, a mission statement is just as important for individuals as it is for organizations.

The career mission statement is a way to give direction to your job search, and something you can come back to and tweak as your priorities (and your life) change. Even if you’re in a job you love and not planning on leaving any time soon, taking the time to develop your personal career mission statement can increase your self-awareness, cement your understanding of your skills and passions as a learning and development (L&D) leader, and help you find fulfillment in work, in hobbies, and in life.

How To Get Started

One great place to start when it comes to self-awareness is with a vetted personality assessment.

When using personality assessments, there are many different options available online, and it’s important to determine which is right for you. Make sure that any assessment you use has good reliability and validity data to back it up. The MBTI assessment and the Five Factor Model, for example, both meet the standards set forth by the American Psychological Association for reliability and validity of a psychometric assessment.

In this example, we’ll use the MBTI assessment to give insight into what someone with that personality type values most. The results of the MBTI assessment tell you about four different parts of your personality, including: how you get your energy (extraversion or introversion), how you prefer to take in information (sensing and intuition), what data you base your decision-making on (thinking or feeling), and how you like to organize your time and world (judging or perceiving). Each of these preference pairs combines to give you a four-letter personality type, such as INFJ or ESTP.

The middle two letters of your four-letter MBTI type describe what you most value. If you don’t know your MBTI type, you can still take a look at the descriptions below and use the one that best fits your personal values:

  • ST: Getting it right, accuracy, precision, efficiency, pragmatic use of details.
  • SF: Providing practical service to others, making people’s lives better in concrete way.
  • NF: Making a meaningful difference in people’s lives, helping people to fulfill their potential.
  • NT: Developing global systems, mastering knowledge, high standards of competence.

Your values should be outlined in the first sentence of your career mission statement.

For the second sentence in your career mission statement, answer the three questions below. Don’t just think about your day job as an L&D leader, but also about past careers, hobbies, volunteering or other “work” you’ve done by yourself or with others. Give yourself about five minutes of brainstorming for all three questions:

  1. What is most important to you about work?
  2. What do you value most about what you do?
  3. What do you want to accomplish through your work?

For the last part of your career mission statement, take your values sentence and the few sentences above and combine them into a paragraph. This is the first draft of your career mission statement!

Write it down somewhere where you can see it over the next few days and edit it as you see fit. This statement can change over time, as often when you move through different parts of your life, your values or interests may change. However, many people who’ve completed their career mission statement have found that while small tweaks may be necessary, often your core interests and values stay the same. Which is why taking the time to do a little self-guided career coaching is a good investment in yourself, no matter where you are in your career. And a great way to align your personality preferences, interests and motivations to a career path.

Lastly, keep in mind that just like you don’t want to put all your expectations for fulfillment on a romantic partner, expecting one career to fulfill all your needs may not be realistic. A mix of your hobbies, personal development and your job in L&D can all play a part to helping you lead a happy life.