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How many times have you heard or read the phrase “self-care”? If you’re like me, it’s beginning to sound repetitious.

How many times have you heard or read the phrase “self-care”? If you’re like me, it’s beginning to sound repetitious.

Stretch. Get enough sleep. Meditate. Eat kale.

All of that is solid advice, as far as it goes but I don’t think it goes far enough. The focus of this kind of self-care advice is, often, how to keep you and your body in shape so you can keep serving your clients. What about self-care that’s directed to what’s good for you for your own sake, regardless of what it does for anyone else?

Truly comprehensive self-care, what I like to call Self-Care 360, is about so much more than self-care-for-other-people’s-benefit (which is lovely but not expansive enough). Self-Care 360 includes body, mind and spirit—and social life, engagement in the community, your financial life, your professional life and connection to family (however you define family) just to start.

Does that seem like a tall order, self-care for all the parts of your life? Truthfully, it is. If you’re not hitting all the points on the Self-Care 360 wheel of goodness all the time, that’s OK. Most of us don’t. We’re human. We can’t be perfect (and we shouldn’t’t even try.)

But believe it or not, having a solid business—and the associated stable and healthy financial life—is a profound act of self-care. After all (say it with me now), our massages take care of other people, our businesses take care of us. Yes, dear readers, the energy you put into creating a sustainable right-sized healthy business is an act of self-care. It’s you taking care of you.

What is a Mission Statement?

What does self-care-through-business look like? Where do we start? We start with one of the most foundational decisions you make as a business owner: getting specific on your purpose and values. It’s about getting clear on your north star (Southern Cross for any readers in the Southern Hemisphere). It’s also known as your mission statement.

Mission statement” may sound dry, boring, tedious and much too biz-speak-y. In reality it’s a beautiful, juicy and deeply personal thing because it’s where you get to express what your work and your business is all about. It’s about your passion and your vision, your values and standards, what drives you and sustains you.

Done well, it helps you continue to move forward to what you really want out of your work and your business. It helps you avoid getting off-track. When you have those days (and we all do) when you wonder if this is all worth it, it’s something you can look at to re-connect yourself with why you’re doing this.

Best of all, it simplifies your business. It makes it easier to say yes to opportunities that match your mission and no to opportunities that don’t. When you have clarity about what you want to do, it’s easier to choose marketing tools and create a message for your websites, social media, etc. It makes it easier to talk about your business when people ask, “what kind of massage do you do?” or even “what do you do?”

This is how Kelly Stack’s mission statement reads: “My practice is a place where people feel GOOD, safe and connected in their bodies. Not just feeling ok, not just getting by, but really enjoying being in a body, feeling deeply held and at home there, to whatever degree is possible, even in the presence of illness or pain, or in the dying process.”

Does that sound dry, boring, or tedious to you?

If you’re saying “yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ve got that. It’s in my head” I challenge you – write it down. If you can’t write it down in a few sentences in a way that inspires and guides you then I’m going to suggest you don’t actually have a mission statement, you’ve got a general sense of where you want to go. That’s a solid place to start, but you deserve more than that.

There are two distinct but integrated parts of your mission statement: what fuels you as a bodyworker and what kind of business will help you put that passion out into the world. What kind of work do you love to do? What do you want to deliver through your hands-on work and what do you want to create and deliver through your business, both for yourself and for your clients? Like a good jelly donut, one is wrapped inside the other. Your business (the donut) creates a place through which to deliver your gifts (the jelly).

It’s true that so many massage practices are offering similar jelly donuts. So why do you need to create your own mission statement? Because the language and images you use need to come from within you.

Jessi Tilden’s mission statement reads: “My mission is to create a culture of self-care. People come to me to reconnect their mind and body in a safe, nurturing environment.  They leave feeling inspired and interested in continuing to deepen their relationship with themselves and their body.  My clients remember what it’s like to inhabit their body again and visibly, unapologetically allow their body to take up more space.”

A mission statement is anywhere from two to 10 sentences, so out of all the things you value, dream of, and strive for you’ll have to choose which things are important enough to you to make it into the mission statement. Remember, also, that your mission statement isn’t meant for other people (though you can absolutely share it as part of promoting your practice). It’s meant to inspire and encourage you. So, it should be uniquely yours.

Christina Anglin’s mission statement reads: “My practice introduces people to the benefits of intentional touch—giving them a chance for connection in an isolating world and a chance to know their bodies more deeply from the inside. I will help people discover that massage can contribute to mental wellness and that there are alternative treatments and resources out there for them in addition to Western behavioral therapy. My commitment in my practice is to hold awareness of privilege, bias and cultural needs around touch and to create an inclusive environment.”

How do you start to capture all that in words? There’s plenty of ways to approach this. Here are a few suggestions:

Tell your story. Write out the story of what drew you to massage, your decision to go to school, your school experience and your journey as a massage therapist. What themes, words, ideas, dreams show up? Is there a direction your story seems to be pointing? What have you learned about yourself – what you like or need – in this journey?

Ask a friend to listen to you read your story or have them read the story on their own. Ask them what they heard in your story. Have them read your story to you and notice what strikes you when you hear it.

Go old school and read a book. A quick online search will turn up dozens (or more) books that are specifically about writing mission statements. Be aware that there isn’t one standard definition for what a mission statement is so three different books could give you three slightly different takes on mission statements. Start with your local library. What books do they carry?. Which ones seem to speak to you best?

Use free business-development resources. Many cities and counties have small business development centers. The Small Business Administration has lots of information about writing a business plan, which includes creating a mission statement. SCORE is a free national service for helping small businesses. Another small warning: these resources usually approach the mission statement from a very traditional business model, which assumes everyone wants to be larger than they are and has growth as their primary goal. They will very likely also use more traditional business language, which may or may not be a good fit for you.

Get one-on-one help. There is a growing community of business coaches in general and specifically in our industry. Just like massage therapists, they each have areas where they’re strong and areas where they’re not as strong. Talk to a few and see if anyone feels like an especially good fit for writing a mission statement specifically.

Coming from within our industry, they are more likely to speak our language and understand our worldview. If you had a good business instructor in school, you can also reach out to them. Some coaches have full-scale programs to direct you in every aspect of your business. Other coaches are more free-form, helping you with whatever issue you bring to them. Think about which one fits your needs best.

Megan Fitz’s mission statement reads: “I meet clients in a way that meets what is unique to them. I support clients in cultivating the inner resources needed to live to their full potential, beginning to make embodied choices that support growth and empowerment. I help clients learn to listen to and trust their own inner wisdom that communicates to them through sensation. I help clients access the depths and capacity to metabolize and move through uncomfortable experiences and sensations—building a bigger, wider and more capable container as we go.”

Questions to Help You Create a Mission Statement

Worksheet it. I use questions with students to walk them through this process:

• Why are you a massage therapist instead of something else?

• What is the #1 thing you want your clients to feel while working with you? Pick only one:









Spiritually uplifted






• How would you like to grow professionally in the next five years?

• Do you want your relationships with your clients to be more clinical / professional or more personal?

• What aspects of massage therapy give you the most to-the-bone pleasure?

• In massage therapy, what kinds of work do you not enjoy?

• How do you feel at the end of a successful session?

• If you have successfully given your client what they needed, how do you know? How do they act, what do they say or do, etc?

• Which of these is the #1 measurement of the success of your business? Which one matters to you the most as a business owner? Pick only one:

Satisfied customers

Highest quality product / service

Financial abundance

Reputation for honesty and transparency

Reputation for good business practices

Respected in and have the support of the larger community

• Now that you have chosen your #1 value, rank the rest #2–#6.

Satisfied customers

High quality product

Financial abundance

Reputation for honesty and transparency

Reputation for good business practices

Respect in and support of the larger community

• In 10 years if everything goes the way you want, what will your business and professional life look like?

• What does ‘business success’ look and feel like to you?

• Name three top values that govern your business

• Think of a successful business. List three characteristics of successful businesses you would like to emulate.

• Is it just you or do you work with other professionals, either as employees or as peers?

• Is this your primary source of income?

Answer the questions as honestly and completely as you can. It doesn’t matter if your answers wouldn’t make sense to someone else; they only need to make sense to you. See what you notice as you go. Still can’t quite imagine what a mission statement should look like? Here’s a basic structure:

“[Practice name] is a place where clients experience [what your work does for them] while also [what your business is focused on]. It will draw on the values of [your highest values].”

You may use a different structure. As long as it works for you, it’s your north star.

Stick With It

One final caution: A good mission statement should work for you for years. It’s not something you change every year; but when you want to take your practice in a new direction, when you relocate, or when you feel it’s not speaking to you anymore, re-visit your mission statement to see if you need to amend it or (if the change in your practice is big enough) to re-write it entirely.

Kelly Bowers

About the Author

Kelly Bowers is the owner of the Healing Arts Business Academy ( She is the author of three books: “The Accidental Business Owner,” “Can I Deduct That,” and “Between Doormat and Diva,” and an NCBTMB-approved provider of continuing education. You can find her on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. She practices (NC license 16669) in Durham, North Carolina.

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