I love coffee. I love that first sip in the morning to start the day, but even better than the first sip is the process of making a fresh pot in the morning. The process of pouring the hot water over some fresh coffee grounds is one that always makes me feel awake and ready to take on the day.

Recently, I watched as the hot water poured over the grounds and dripped the coffee that I would then consume through the filter. As I did so, I realized the process made me think about my mission statement and my purpose.

A personal mission statement is a filter through which we can make all of our decisions. If a decision does not pass the filter test, we must throw it out like the coffee grounds. If a decision passes through the filter and aligns with our mission statement and purpose, we can act on it.

If I didn’t use a coffee filter and just poured hot water over some coffee grounds, I would end up drinking the worst cup of coffee I’d ever had. It would not taste good, it would not make me want to start the day and I might even become sick. However, when I filter the coffee through the coffee filter, it leaves only the best for me to consume. What I end up drinking is coffee that will energize me and help me focus — and the same goes for making our decisions through the filter of our mission statement.

If we blindly make decisions with no filter (no written personal mission statement or purpose statement), our lives will begin to look like a pot of coffee with no filter, full of grounds that leave us empty, sick and wanting more. When we put every decision through the filter of our mission statement and purpose, our life is full of energy, good choices and motivation to make a direct impact on the lives around us.

How to Identify Your Mission

If you have never taken the time to write out your personal mission statement to guide your life’s decisions, I cannot recommend it highly enough, especially during times of uncertainty like the time we are currently facing. Don’t let another day go by without your filter in place.

Here are five steps to develop a personal mission statement for your life:

    1. Identify the most important values for your life and your decisions.
    2. Decide which roles hold the highest priority in your life and in your career development.
    3. Draft a mission statement, no longer than two sentences, that is broad enough to apply to all of your life’s decisions but specific enough to filter out poor decisions that do not line up with your top values and highest-priority roles.
    4. Leave your mission statement alone for at least 24 hours.
    5. Come back to your mission statement, edit it to make sure it aligns with who you want to be in the future and put it somewhere you will see it every day.

Once you have created your mission statement, you can begin the process of filtering your life’s decisions through it and pursuing only the activities and responsibilities that align with your core values, beliefs and goals.

The Role of the Personal Mission Statement in Talent and Development

In the digital age, there is a seemingly unlimited number of opportunities in the development industry, and it is impossible to stay focused if we don’t filter our decisions through a clear mission statement. With your mission statement at your side, you can make quick, effective decisions when opportunities come your way. If something does not pass your filter test, you discard it and move on, knowing you did not miss out. If something does pass your filter test, you can enter into that decision with an enthusiastic confidence that will be contagious.

In the training and development industry, far too often, we have learners go through programs or seminars without a purpose. We sell seminars, books and programs that use all of the buzzwords but have no impact. We focus on the sales and the numbers, not the people and the mission.

Everyone in the training and development industry should take a step back and clearly identify his or her mission — otherwise, how can we possibly help others define theirs? A development professional with a clearly defined and acted-on mission statement will enter into every client meeting with a mindset and focus that brings about change. Impact occurs when a mission-minded individual works with open-minded clients who are looking to make a change.

A life that is focused is a life that can make a substantial impact on an organization, a family and a community. Don’t let another day go by without a clear personal mission.