Mission vs Vision: Which comes first?

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Date Published

June 19, 2019

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When you think about branding, what do you think of first? A logo design? A colour scheme? A tagline? Any, all, or none of the above? Well all of these are great and are, of course, integral to your brand. But branding is so much more than that. And I believe that the most important thing to start with is to establish your mission and vision.

What’s the difference between your mission and your vision?

I want to preface this by saying that what I have here is what _I_ believe your vision and mission are, in terms of branding your business. First of all, I believe that one builds on top of the other. For example, you can’t have a larger vision for your work without knowing the mission.

The reason for that is because your mission is like the nuts + bolts of what helps you to build up to your vision - which is like the final, larger, big-picture image of what you hope to achieve.

In short:

Your mission is the HOW.

Your vision is the WHY.

Your mission is often described as a ‘mission statement’ in the more Corporate world. It sets out what your business aims to do, and how you aim to do it.

But your vision goes one step further than that. Your vision is about the WHY behind what you do.

Because your vision is such a large, big-picture thinking style of statement, it makes sense that you can use your mission almost as a visioning tool, to help you figure out what that larger vision should be.

For example, here is my own mission:

To empower every creative entrepreneur to brand their business authentically, aligned to their core values, mission + vision, through my unique tools and methodologies.

And here is how my vision builds upon that:

To encourage + empower business owners to realise their unique superpowers and create more impact through their work.

Let’s break them down a little bit.

Part of my mission on this earth is to help empower other creative entrepreneur folks like myself to brand their business more authentically. And I want them to do that by aligning their business + brand with their core values, their mission, and their vision.

But my vision goes one step further than that. My vision is that I want to empower every single business owner to realise that their unique blend of superpowers and skills are what set them apart - and for them to realise they’re good enough to do what they want to do, no matter what. And I want more people to be positively impacted in the world, which I believe can happen when we believe in ourselves.

Do you see how they build on each other? Your mission feeds directly into your vision. And your mission has the power to help you dream up that larger vision that’s at play for how you create, what you create, and ALL that you create in the future.

How to Create your Mission

When it comes to creating your mission, there are a few questions I like to ask myself:

  • What do I do?
  • What impact does my work have?
  • Why do I do what I do?
  • What is the result of my work?

And then I review those answers, and look a little deeper inside...look for any patterns. Notice any words that give you that fuzzy feeling, or that intuitive kick or gut feeling that make you feel good, and that feel right.

Then, try to fit them into the following recipe:

My mission is TO _________________

BY _________________

Let me give you a few examples.

Examples of your mission statement:

Maybe you’re a financial planner - your mission might look something like this:

My mission is TO create more wealth among women BY empowering them to manage their own financial growth.

Or maybe you’re passionate about helping older generations learn new skills, in which case your mission might be:

My mission is TO empower older generations to learn new skills BY making learning accessible to everyone no matter their age.

How to Create, Develop + Hone your Vision

Okay, so we’ve got our mission. But how do we then figure out what our vision is for our work?

Well, first of all - I want to ask you to close your eyes. Obviously have a read of this next paragraph first - but then, close those eyes of yours. Turn on some music that inspires you. That motivates you. That clears your mind. Get into the zone, and take a few deep breaths.

You see, I’m a believer that you need to be in this relaxed, calm, clear mental headspace to be able to start to DREAM about your work.

Because whereas our mission is more of a practical exercise to work through, that we can develop over time, our vision is not only supported by our mission...but it’s the WHOLE reason behind what we do.

Once you’ve taken the time to get into that mental headspace, start to slowly dream about ideas for your work. What would you do if you had no limits? On money, time, your energy? If you could achieve anything with your work, what would that look like? Who would you help? What would you be doing? How + WHY would you be doing it?

Let these questions almost merge and float around in your head until you feel some dreams forming. THESE are what will start to inform your vision.

Once these dreams have started to come to life, see what you can do to put them together into a statement that shares this dream and vision for your work.

Examples of vision statements:

Going back to our earlier examples, the vision for the financial planner might be:

To create a world where more women are financially independent and able to manage their finances, helping them to live an independent, courageous life.

And the vision for the next might be:

To create accessible tools + methodologies that support and empower the older generation to realise and develop their own learning skills, even if they feel they’re ‘past it’.

Do you see how both of these vision statements build on their missions?

Not only does the financial planner want to help her clients create more wealth, her vision is for a world where women have more financial independence and can in turn live a more independent and courageous life as a result of that work.

And the educator that wants to help older generations doesn’t want to do it simply to teach them skills, but to also show them that they are capable even when they feel like they’re not.

Amplifying your Mission and Vision

Going back to my own mission and vision:

To empower every creative entrepreneur to brand their business authentically, aligned to their core values, mission + vision, through my unique tools and methodologies.

To encourage + empower business owners to realise their unique superpowers and create more impact through their work.

Can you see how my own vision builds upon my mission?

Whereas my mission statement is about practical empowerment, to help every business owner brand their business in an authentic way…

...my VISION is about that empowerment transforming the way that my people see themselves after realising their own unique superpowers.

My vision goes one step further than my mission, and is more about the inner transformations that I know my work can create and almost instigate in my clients and my audience.

In the same way, your vision should be a reflection of your mission - yet amplified.

Why your Mission and Vision even Matter

The reason I believe your mission and vision matter is for one reason, and one reason only: they help inform every single thing you do in the future.

They can aid you as a decision making tool (just like your core values). They can help give you direction on what to work on next. They can help you to say no to more things, if they don’t align with the larger vision that you have for your work.

They help you to live out your life + business in a way that creates more impact, because everything you do helps focus on what will truly make a difference and help you to achieve the mission + vision you have for your work.

So when it comes to developing your mission + vision, just remember this: your mission comes first, and your vision comes second. Take half an hour over the next week to develop your mission statement and dream of the vision for your work - I promise, it won’t ever be time wasted.


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