This article was originally published on May 12, 2016.
Have you heard of a personal manifesto or a mission statement? I only became aware of it fairly recently, although in college I practiced it without knowing what it was. Start of every school year, I’d write down a list of items that I wanted to work on that year. This included things like “read the newspaper everyday,” “be open-minded about friendship,” “nourish my body and prioritize health” and “be courageous.” This then got pasted to my mini fridge and I would only read it consciously from time to time–but subconsciously, they all did end up making a substantial difference in the way I think and behave. So much of what I take for granted in my life now–the basic standards of my intellectual, cultural, and physical maintenance–were established during this time by not much more than writing them down.
Since then, I’ve let go of this practice that affected me so crucially. But writing a personal manifesto is a powerful way to shape your being, no matter what age or stage of life you’re in. For one, I’ve long since realized that there is no finishing with your personal development. If anything, when you are past the age of trying to find yourself so earnestly, you might benefit even more from this exercise.
A personal manifesto or mission statement is similar to that of a company. It basically answers the questions of:
Why do you exist?
What purpose do you serve?
What do you believe in?
What are your core values?
How do you contribute to the world?
What defines success for you?
It also provides guidelines for your behaviors. How do you interact with others? How do you interact with yourself? How do you behave with money? What’s your relationship with your body? How do you respond to obstacles, conflict, or failure? How do you plan to grow?
Since it was a holiday, I felt a little more leisure to be able to write this personal manifesto. While none of these things are new revelations, I feel much better for having written them down as my set of personal beliefs to refer back to in times of crises (more often than you’d think). This is, in short, your chance to write down your truth. I hope my manifesto below inspires you to write your own, too!
1. I trust myself. I will bend over backwards to save me. I got my own back. Twice.
2. I can find a way to do anything I truly wish. I move mountains with my fire.
3. My purpose is to experience and express truth and beauty.
4. I am genuine, compassionate, loving, and courageous.
5. I am fearless. I know that rejection, heartbreak, failure, loneliness, financial insecurity, and embarrassment will come and go, but I don’t break and mend like a you-know-what.
6. I believe there is nothing to prove to anyone else. I earn respect by doing what I love with sincerity and consistency.
7. I am led by my dreams. Their pull is far more powerful than the push of reality.
8. I handle stress with maturity and resilience. I am the picture of grace under pressure.
9. I take my passion with absolute seriousness. I take myself with a grain of humor and humility.
10. I do whatever I have to do to keep my fire burning bright.
11. I always have time to do whatever I wish.
12. I keep promises to others and to myself. My word is worth more than gold.
13. I know when to push myself and when to self-preserve. I have the patience, stamina, wisdom, resilience, and the solemn dignity of an elephant marching across the Kalahari desert. It’s about doing what I have to do over the long road.
14. I help whoever needs my help. I give my good will, honesty, and positive energy to those who touch my life. But I don’t waste time and energy with those who are undeserving.
15. I believe that things can always change for the better: sometimes because I imagine and do, and sometimes even when I’m not expecting anything at all. Grace happens.
I’m always very curious to see what other people put in their manifestos because there are a lot of individual differences. For instance, when I first read about personal manifestos in this NYTimes article, the author wrote: “My ultimate mission is to live a present, disciplined life, in which I take care of myself in order to achieve my larger goals.” (So different from what I’ve written!) I think that uniqueness makes a personal manifesto even more valuable in living your own vision.
What would you put in your personal manifesto? Would you care to share any points?
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Also see: Inspired Living: What Motivates You In Life?
Photo: Peaceful Dumpling