What is a Personal Manifesto?
A Personal Manifesto is list of what you believe and value. It’s not necessarily who you are now, or how you live your life now.
But it is your line in the sand. It’s the definitive statement of what you stand for, what you believe, and where you refuse to compromise.
It doesn’t have to be long. The shorter the better. Maybe 10 things.
Your Manifesto is the place where you say: Here is a written list of the qualities I value in people and the world. This is the kind of person I wish to become. I may not be there yet, but this is what I’m aiming for.
How to Write Your Personal Manifesto.
Take out your notebook. The same one you’re keeping your Things I Love and Things I Hate lists and your Piles.
Give yourself an hour and scribble down some answers to the following questions:
1. Who do I admire?
2. What do I admire in the people I admire?
3. What do I admire in the marketplace as a consumer of goods and services?
4. What 1 or 2 qualities do I have that I wish my children, friends, or colleagues had?
5. How do I feel when I feel seen?
6. What makes me feel safe, secure and appreciated?
7. How do I want to show up in the world; how do I want to be seen?
8. How do I want to express?
9. How do I want to be known?
10. What do I want to be known for?
11. What would be the best thing someone could say about me in a eulogy?
List out all the qualities you admire in other people. Think back to a time when you felt seen and appreciated and remember what that felt like. Write it all down.
What kind of reputation do you want to have? What kind of legacy do you want to leave?
After you finish these questions, you will know a lot about who you are and what you stand for for.
Now look at your answers to these questions and pick out the qualities you want to emulate.
For example, say your answer to question number 3, “What do I value in the marketplace?” was, “I value reliability and courtesy.”
You might then make these qualities part of your Manifesto if you really feel strongly about them.
What if you answered Number 10 with, “I want to be known as someone who is open-minded and interested in lots of things.”
You could then add,
to your Manifesto.
These statements don’t have to be long. In fact, the shorter the better. And there don’t have to be tons of them. Maybe only 10 things.
Because your Manifesto is describing the way you want to be, not necessarily who you are yet, try to put the word “Be” at the beginning of each item. Pretend you’re pep-talking yourself.
“Kath, be patient,” or, “I want to be patient.”
Make those statements into Manifesto statements by just taking the words, “I want to” out.
Here is my Manifesto.
Make conscious choices
Extend your abilities
Engage with the world
You’ll notice that mine don’t all start with “Be,” but they all start with a verb, or an action word like: make, seek, extend, engage, express, risk.
You’ll also note that each one is really SHORT. No full sentences. No details. This is really important because the shorter you make these statements, the easier they’ll be to remember.
You want each thing on your list to remind you to do something.
You want each thing to trigger an action.
It’s called a Manifesto because it’s what you want to manifest; it’s how you want to show up in the world.
Your Personal Manifesto is series of commands to yourself. It’s you telling yourself, reminding yourself, how you want to be.
Then Hang It Up
It’s really important to post this Manifesto somewhere in your house.
Because if you forget who you are, you can instantly refresh your memory. We all forget who we are constantly. We all make mistakes constantly because we are constantly forgetting what we believe and what we stand for. That’s why it’s so important to have this stuff written down and posted somewhere.
Also, if it’s posted in your house and you live with others, they’ll be able to read it too, and know who you are, what you stand for, and who you are striving to be.
Then, when you get into an argument, you can just say, “Refer to number 3 on my Manifesto” and save yourself a lot of explaining.
They might challenge you on it, or even call you on your shit, but that’s good. Whenever you have to defend it, it becomes stronger.
Also: It’s very good to have people around who point out when they see you falling out of integrity. It’s not necessarily pleasant, but it keeps you honest in a good way. And if you have children, it’s especially good for them to know what you stand for. Clarity breeds understanding and peace in the home.
If you are comfortable with it, it would also be good to hang a copy of your Manifesto where you work. Put a framed copy on your desk. It will act as a subtle reminder to you of who you are, especially if you tend to fall out of integrity at work.
My Manifesto is hanging in my dining room at home and at my yoga studio. (I also have printed it in black marker on my yoga mat!)
The day I wrote it, I was on a mini-retreat in Ithaca, NY and had taken this picture with my iPhone of my tea cup on the windowsill of the place I was staying.
Then I used the Over app to superimpose my Manifesto onto that photo.
When I showed the resulting picture to G, she really liked it and took it to Walmart and had it mounted. This is how It looks hanging in our dining room:
I encourage you to do something like this. Write your Manifesto and hang it on the wall proudly.