When we think about creating a mission statement, we might think of buttoned up folks in a board room wordsmithing language that doesn’t really say anything.
It’s too corporate. It’s a waste of time…
But is it? When a business has a mission statement, or at least clarity of purpose, there is guidance on how that business operates. Businesses with strong, clear missions are able to identify which opportunities align with their vision and take action (or say no) much more quickly.
Mission statements are the distillation of a business’ why, how, and what.
So how does that apply to therapists?
I talk to a lot of therapists, helping professionals, and passion-driven entrepreneurs. The first area I usually explore is their mission. And you know the most common answer I get when I ask someone what their mission is?
“I want to help people.”
That is a lovely sentiment, but it isn’t a mission statement.
“Helping people” while a lovely calling, isn’t specific at all. “Helping people” gives me no guidance on which people, how you help them, or even why you’d really want to.
Getting clear on your mission can be a powerful way to lay a groundwork for everything you do and every decision that you make.
Not sure where to begin? Some questions to ask yourself:
Why did you set out to be a therapist?
When looking for your “why,” you can find a number of clues that can help you identify so much about the career you are creating. What was your purpose for getting into this profession? Oftentimes, people become therapists because of some life changing event, potentially a traumatic one, that led to a new perspective, posttraumatic growth, or even just a clear understanding of the type of help that is truly needed. When you know WHY you are a therapist, you can look at how you’re living up to that original purpose and how you can codify what you’re hoping to accomplish as a therapist. Putting this stuff in writing allows you to implement the vision that got you into the business in the first place.
What values, morals, and priorities are most important to consider when you’re making decisions about your career or your business?
Beyond why you’re doing what you’re doing, it is important to know how you’re going to do this work. Values, morals, priorities, and preferences should inform your decision-making and are easier to tap into when you’ve written them down. Do you value high quality clinical work? That can inform how many clients you see, when you take breaks, or even which trainings you attend. Do you want to make sure that you’ve created an anti-racist therapy practice? Putting that in writing can be a way to hold yourself accountable as long as you also create structure around assessing your own bias and disrupting racism, as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion. Crystalizing what truly matters to you can ensure that you keep these ideals top of mind when you are making decisions or doing your work.
What do you want to make sure you do?
When we look at why you want to do the work and how you want to do it – we’re looking at big ideas that often are more specific than “helping people,” but aren’t specific enough for day-to-day operations. Laying this conceptual groundwork must be paired with a plan for implementation. Take your newly minted ideals and see how your work aligns. Where are the misalignments? How did they come about? Identify how you can shift your operations or your offerings to line up with your highest aspirations for yourself and your therapy practice. When you do that, you’re able to better support the people you would like to serve, your business, and yourself.
When you’re able to answer these questions, you can create a mission statement that doesn’t only mean something, but is also central in how you run your business or craft your career. Set up aligned systems and structures – that support your mission – and you’ll have a better chance to create a sustainable career.