Writing a Personal Mission Statement ~ A Roadmap for the Journey

Two winter's ago I read and reviewed Jamie Martin's book Steady Days. Hers was the first mothering book I read that highlighted the importance of a mission statement.

No doubt there are other mothering books nowadays and even not-so-recent titles that talk more about this. (I will be sharing some mission resources at the end of my mission series.) Jamie's book just happened to fall into my hands at the end of a very long break (from about the time my children were babies till just a few years ago) from reading parenting how-to type books.

I had a discouraging time of it with parenting and mothering books in the early years of my children's lives so I took a long hiatus from that genre of reading. Instead I looked to the wisdom of local mothering mentors (whose advice I sought after observing their own beautiful family lives), the direction of my husband, and a few choice books recommended by close friends.

All that to say, I'm sure other mothering books talk about defining your mission but Jamie's was one of the first I had read.

Even while reading Steady Days I didn't think I particularly needed a written mission statement. From decisions I had made a long time ago, as a young woman, my personal mission seemed pretty obvious to me.

Please note this post is not about my mothering mission but my personal mission, though the two are intertwined. My mothering mission is very much wrapped up in our homeschool goals and purposes. This post and the ones that follow are about me personally, not my parenting goals.

I wanted to grow in my faith, love my husband, love the kids, feed my husband, feed the kids, teach the kids, use my gifts to manage our home, be a blessing in my community and so on. And if I thought about it more deeply, which I didn't, I think I would have said my mission also included sharing nature and celebrating beauty in everyday living - something I've always been drawn to.

My tasks and responsibilities were laid out before me and I didn't really need a mission to motivate me or keep me on track.

That doesn't mean I was rudderless. I just didn't have it written down.

For years now I've been very intentional about my life. This intention of course carries over into my personal and mothering decisions, many that were/are decidedly against the norm in our culture. To walk a path like this you have to have a fairly strong internal compass, even if you don't have a written mission statement.

That's how things were going along until last winter, when I took some time dig a little deeper into who I am and what makes me tick - with the express purpose to craft a mission statement.

Why a Mission Statement

What changed last winter? Why did I need a mission statement where before I didn't?

It wasn't what changed last winter, it was what had changed a few years earlier when I discovered the world of blogging mothers.

You see, after years of mothering - navigating the baby, toddler, preschool and early elementary years I had found my groove. I know what kind of mother I am.

I was confident in my discipline strategies and communication techniques. I was seeing the fruit of the early years where I laid down a very strong foundation. My kids felt secure in my love and I felt secure in theirs. I felt good about what I was doing as a mom, and who I was as a mom.

Where I seriously lacked confidence though was in the world beyond my cozy home, specifically the mommy blogging world. I knew I wanted to grow in that domain. I wanted to become a better writer, eventually earning money from my creative endeavors.

And I realized this - if I want to feel comfortable in my own skin as I watch other creative mompreneurs - writers, artists, and teachers grow and flourish in their unique talents, services and products - I needed to get really grounded in who I am as a mom, writer, homeschooler, homemaker, adventurer, etc.

Who is Renee Tougas? What's she all about? Where is she going?

I needed a roadmap for the journey. A roadmap for my journey.

Crafting a Mission Statment ~ In The Zone

I know when I have read before about women taking time to evaluate and reflect - digging deeper - it's tempting to think, "lucky them, on some quiet, lakeside retreats sans children and household responsibilities". I assure you, for me that was not the case.

I worked my personal development into my day, sometimes going to bed at 9pm with a pen, paper, the computer and a few resources at hand.

Because my mind was in the zone, so to speak, thoughts would come to me at other times, often (as most ideas do) while I was cooking. So I kept a pen and paper handy and scribbled down notes furiously as they came while stirring soup and cutting veggies. I do this now all the time with my writing.

I listened to webinars, downloaded resources from the Internet, and read books that were somehow related (and sometimes not) all with the intent of understanding myself better.

I share this to give you ideas of how you can work a similar process into your own busy life as a mom.

Crafting my Mission Statement ~ Questions to Ask

In trying to define my mission, what I was really trying to answer is "who am I?" and "how does this guide what I do?"

To get to the bottom of this I asked myself the following questions.

  1. Why am I asking this question, why does this matter? (Yes, I questioned the question.)
  2. What do I see as my primary role right now in life?
  3. Along those lines, what do I love about homemaking? What do I love about homeschooling? My two main jobs right now.
  4. What would my ideal day look like?
  5. What are my passions? What am I naturally interested in and drawn to?
  6. Do I see any common threads in my interests and/or personality from childhood, into adulthood, into raising my own children?

You'll notice I don't have the typical Christian spiritual questions in that list, questions like:

  1. Who does the Bible say I am?
  2. What is God's purpose for me? (in grand terms)

These are questions I've already answered in my life and I return to those answers over and over again when I';ve strayed off course either in terms of going my own way (not listening to the Spirit), or feeling attacked with negativity and lies.

I know who I am in the grand scheme - a precious, chosen, child of God.

I know what my purpose is - to glorify God, love Him with my whole being and love my neighbor as myself.

That is the foundation underneath this further reflection.

With that as the foundation, what I wanted to define was a roadmap for me - an established homemaker, mother and wife. A woman who loves her family and has chosen a first career in serving them but is now ready to branch out, to bloom in other areas. A woman who is ready to contribute to the world outside her home but is still firmly committed to remaining at home and loving and serving family first and foremost.

I'm not going to share all the answers to those questions but I will share my answers to the first. Here's what I wrote in my Who Am I document (the place I used for gathering all my thoughts):

1. Why am I asking this question, why does this matter?

With everything being so up in the air, and the restructuring really of how we do family life ,I need a filter, or some other measurement tool, to evaluate each opportunity that comes my way. I need to make sure I am investing my time, resources, heart, head and soul into the work that is going to most sustain me, inspire me, contribute to our family, and fulfill God's unique mission for my life.

Also, having been a stay at home professional mother and homemaker for twelve years I am entering a new world of online entrepreneurs, writers, artisans and savvy business people. I am a newcomer to this scene, wanting to succeed but wanting also to make sure I don't lose focus of where my heart truly lies - at home with my family.

I have a couple more posts coming on mission. The next has practical tips for crafting your mission as well as shares my mission. I also want to share some books and resources that have helped me in this process.

All the photos in this post, except the portrait of me, are from a Who am I project I did in 1999 (oh yes, that's 13 years ago). The year I became a mother. In those days I went to a moms group at a church, MOPS or something like that, and we did this collage there (there was no Pinterest but this would be a cool Pinterest board also). This collage very much represented who I was and who I wanted to be.

I have saved that collage all these years, mostly filed away in a memory box, and I love how it still shares the heart of who I am and what I want to do with my life. I love that continuity. I know I'm allowed to change and grow, indeed I want to, but I am very much the young woman I was at twenty three or twenty or eighteen. And I like that.

It occurs to me just now in putting these photos in this post that perhaps this collage was my mission statement for these foundational years of my adult and mothering life. Maybe I did have a mission statement after all! Go figure.

What kind of questions do you think are important to ask in defining mission?
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  • heather

    heather on April 11, 2012, 11:04 a.m.

    wow. i love how what you created thirteen years ago still reflects who you are today. i think that would be the same for me too... but i've never created a true mission statement. i'm intrigued by the idea and your list of questions.

    i am really looking forward to your post on crafting a mission - i don't know how one creates a mission statement... is there a particular process or resource? can't wait to read your next post and find out! i think this would be a good summer project for me this year.


    • renee

      renee on April 11, 2012, 11:15 a.m.

      That's so funny Heather because I see you being "driven" (I don't mean in a bad way) by your mission. The work you do, the way you live with your family - I see it in there.  


  • Heather

    Heather on April 11, 2012, 11:16 a.m.

    What a wonderful post! My husband and I just went through Tsh's steps of writing a family mission statement. I have been thinking about my own mission lately. I am still at the very early stages of motherhood (with an almost 4 year old and 20 month old). I have all of these ideas, but no time in the day it seems. I am trying to prioritize what is really important, and sometimes take a step back to see what is in front of me. It is overwhelming most of the time, but I am starting to get into a good rhythm now. Looking forward to reading more about your mission :-) And I loved your book as well, finding creativity as a mama is so important for me, and sometimes it is hard to sit down and do that. I really liked what you said about food being a way to show your creativity, because it is something that I try to do :-) - sorry long comment!


  • Naomi

    Naomi on April 11, 2012, 10:36 p.m.

    I have wanted to create a mission statement for myself and our family, but haven't really figured out a good place to start. This is very helpful, and I love the folder idea. That might be a good excuse to get out the magazines and glue sticks with the kids!


  • Jennifer Ott

    Jennifer Ott on April 12, 2012, 11:09 p.m.

    Love it... This resonated with me on so many levels; I feel so pushed and pulled lately. We know what our purpose as a family is, but I have felt that (not selfishly) I am a person, too! I love how you didn't bother with the usual "spiritual" questions: those answers are so general, God's plan is much more individual. Thank you.


  • Leticia

    Leticia on April 13, 2012, 1:02 a.m.

    I tried to answer some of those questions, you got me thinking! Great post Renee. I have been wanting to make my family statement, but it scares me to put on writing what we are. The way you pasted those pictures makes it a little easy to start with, maybe one day I do it too. It's funny that I found your blog because of a bubbles picture you submitted to a picture contest on Me Ra Ko blog. She also encourage women to go and cut pieces of magazines and paste them on a big piece of paper to see what's in our hearts.


  • Ashley

    Ashley on April 14, 2012, 2:30 a.m.

    As always, I appreciate the practicality and clear-minded approach to such foundational elements. I think you said it well when you referred to having a strong internal compass. As believers, hopefully, we have given a great deal of thought to our role as Christ intends it. That's obviously the first step. The second is taking it beyond theory and into practice which is what this post drilled home to me. After all, it's one thing to have a compass, it's another to carry it with you and know where you are at all times. For me, just the step of putting together a home management binder has been part of that process. I intend to more solidly develop a mission statement and goals for our homeschool, too, and now, for me personally. Kyle (my husband) and I have done that for our family unit, and he's been crafting his own personal mission/vision for the past few months as part of a men's discipleship group, but for some reason, doing my own never occurred to me. Thanks for sharing your process, the questions and some insight into your own life. Whatever you go through, Renee, no matter how many doubts Satan throws at you, please know that you are being used mightily by the Lord. Obviously in many practical and useful and encouraging ways. Reminds me of Paul talking to Philemon when he tells him the "hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother." Well, sister, you continue to refresh my heart! Thanks!


  • Heather Mac

    Heather Mac on April 15, 2012, 1:16 p.m.

    Love this post. Thought-provoking for me. My down-fall is never passion or creativity, it is consistency. The "visual" learner in me is quite inspired by the photos of your mission. Can't wait to read more.


  • Kyce

    Kyce on April 15, 2012, 8 p.m.

    I have been preparing to create mission statements with my mothers' circle next month, and hearing your experience and process with it is so helpful.


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