what is a manifesto

What is a Manifesto and Why You Should Have One

How are you making decisions in your life?

Every day is an endless stream of decisions and choices. From simple things like, “What we do when we wake up in the morning?”, or “What we are going to wear out?”. To the difficult things like, “Are we going to stay at this job?”, or “How we are we going to deal with this relationship?”. Each option taken, road traveled, and person met reinforces our perceptions who we are. Despite this, the question we rarely ask ourselves is, how are we making those choices? By whose standards and what values are we allowing the course of our lives to be directed? Are we in control or is someone else?

“It is said that this manifesto is more than a theory, that it was an incitement. Every idea is an incitement.”
– Oliver Wendall Holmes Jr.

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We all try to make the best decisions we can with the information we have available. When faced with a question that is too hard, it’s easy to take actions that go against the values we hold most important and true to ourselves. This results in acting opposingly to our values, leading to a catastrophic string of events. First, we begin to question little choices. The infinite number of inconsequential things we decide every day. It’s easy to find little things to regret if your brain is tuned into trying. Slowly your confidence is being torn down, until your brain starts associating all the small decisions and regrets to a bigger one. If there’s no correction this pattern spreads to as many areas of your life as you let it.  Eventually, your motivation is hit hard because without confidence in your decisions you’re best course of action will be to play it safe. Ultimately the death of any productivity isn’t far behind. It’s a terrible cycle that can remove any control you feel over your life. If this sounds like you, a manifesto can help take it back!

What is a manifesto?

A manifesto is the physical declaration of values and intents that are important to us. They summarize how we measure and so make all the big and little decisions that shape our lives. At it’s a core it’s purpose is to help us focus on what’s important and what’s honest. A manifesto acts as a compass to your personal true north!

Why have a manifesto?

What if… no matter what happens in life, you could feel confident in every decision you make? What if… you could feel proud of how you handle every situation, no matter how bad it was?

This is the power of a manifesto!

This simple tool gives us the power to assess any decision laid at our feet, large or small. It’s direct, immediate, and in alignment with our values.

The truth is failing anything is difficult on the mind. Yet, the impact of any failure is way less intense when we act in a way that is true to ourselves and our values. Even achievements come with a price if the choices that lead to the win goes against our values. They can often feel cheap, undeserved, or even guilt-inducing. In this way the results only matter if the way you achieved them, good or bad.

If acting against your values creates a waterfall of negative emotions, regardless of the results. Then acting in alignment with your values can create a fountain of positive emotion, regardless of the results.

How to Build a Manifesto

A manifesto should be filled with phrases that have deep meaning for you and summarize values you hold true. The more important the value a phrase represents, to you, the more visible it should be. If there are particular values you want to have, but struggle to maintain. Those can also be valuable to highlight in some way.

You can find inspiration for a manifesto almost anywhere. It could be a favorite quote from a book, a famous line from one of your favorite movies. It could be a song lyric or something a relative used to say to you. The more concise and the more deeply it resonates with you. The more powerful your manifesto will be. There’s lots of value looking at what a role model uses in their manifesto. Even if they don’t call it that, anything that guides their decision making, that is a phrase or idea they conjure up when they are challenged. It is a part of their manifesto. As with any other habits, or strategies if their manifesto speaks to you. Make them manifesto your own and utilize the powerful ideals that made them successful!

How to Use the Manifesto

A manifesto is meant to be seen! It’s meant to inspire you, so the first thing you want to do is find a place in your home or office where you go often, either to work, to think, or where you clear your head. It should be high traffic and high visibility area. Many businesses will place these at entrances or down main halls to the snack room.

Take stock of your day and the places you visit the most (high traffic) and rate your level of need for inspiration or motivation when there (high visibility).

The only wrong place you can put it is somewhere you only see it once or twice a day. Where it’s just another decoration that fades into the background.

Finally, you have to use your manifesto! Remember that each decision counts, how you do anything is how you do everything. Once you have a manifesto you believe in, use it to guide your choices and actions. If you find that something doesn’t serve you the way you thought it would- mix it up! Don’t expect that a manifesto will last your entire life and never change, be flexible, adjust to your changing needs and wants. Just always be honest with yourself!


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