February 9, 2023

I Get a Little Better Each Day: Defining Your Personal Mission Statement

by Maggie McNamara

The automotive aftermarket is a broad industry with a rich history and a compelling future, making it fertile ground for young professionals to sow the seeds of a fruitful career.

On the path from entry-level to senior executive or beyond, there are challenges to overcome and decisions to make: pursuing promotions, navigating office politics and considering compelling job offers.

  • Which path is the best use of your specific talents and skillsets?

  • Which direction will lead to personal and professional fulfillment?

  • How will you adapt as the industry evolves? 

Any professional, but certainly those navigating the early years of their careers, can benefit from authoring a personal mission statement: a foundational element that guides day-to-day decisions while shaping long-term trajectories. 

Your company probably has a mission statement and perhaps an accompanying vision statement and value system.

A personal mission is like its corporate counterpart: It tells you what your purpose is.

Mission Statement

Mission Statement: What’s your purpose?

The sum of your life’s ambitions captured in two or three sentences. Easy, right? No, not so much. But, worth the introspection and time. Start by considering the following questions: 

What do you pay attention to?

Consider what captures your attention in a meeting or a project. Is it the people – how they think and interact? Perhaps it’s the process – how to evolve or optimize a system? Or maybe it’s something entirely different. Whatever your attention naturally gravitates toward isn’t random but revealing of a pattern that points to where you should invest your time and energy.

When was the last time you ‘lost’ yourself in something?

Consider which activities, tasks, or projects you become so absorbed in that you lose track of time. Eminent positive psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls this ‘flow’ and it’s widely regarded as the golden standard for professional fulfillment (watch Csikszentmihalyi’s ’04 TED Talk on Flow here).

As you answer these questions, challenge yourself to get as specific as possible. In his New York Times Best Selling book, Love+Work (2022, Harvard Business Review Press) Marcus Buckingham, Head of Research, People and Performance at ADP Research Institute, says, “Everybody knows that loves lies in the little things. You don’t love “books” – you love this kind of book, written by this specific author. So why do we forget this when it comes to which activities, situations or behaviors we love? Why do we make do with generalizations?”

For example, it isn’t enough to say you “love helping people”. Ask yourself situation-specific questions. “Does it matter who the people are? Does it matter when you help them? Does it matter why you’re helping them? Does it matter what you’re helping them with?” The more specific you are, the closer you get to authoring a mission statement that reflects your unique talents and interests.

The automotive aftermarket industry continues to grow and with that growth comes new, exciting opportunities. The application of a personal mission statement can serve as a decision-making tool while you navigate which projects to tackle, which colleagues to network with, which new role to pursue.

About section background | Auto Care Association

Mike Chung

is director, market intelligence at Auto Care Association. With more than a dozen years of experience in market research, Chung provides the industry with timely information on key factors and trends influencing the health of the automotive aftermarket to help businesses throughout the supply chain make better business decisions. Chung has earned degrees in chemical engineering, environmental health, and business administration. He can be reached at michael.chung@autocare.org.

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