A manifesto is a statement of ideals and goals to guide a person, organisation or culture to a better future. It can be as complex as the Koran or as simple as the United States Declaration of Independence. They are often a rebellious call to action because they show people the disparity from their current reality and a better future.
The best manifestos provoke change, challenge convention and generate a commitment to change in their target audience. The Declaration of Independence is a simple document, yet its words reverberate through every aspect of American society and culture.
A personal manifesto is simply your own call to action to live a better life or create a better future for you and those closest to you.
Why write a personal manifesto?
Self improvement is a lifelong pursuit for almost everyone although we mostly do it unconsciously through repetition and practice, it is a fundamental part of what makes human beings a unique species on this planet. Successful self improvement must be consistent with your values and principles.
My own attempts at self improvement often failed because I followed the latest fad rather than a plan to address my own ideals and aspirations. In recent years I focused my effort on obtaining a Command in the Air Force. All my energy went into finding a position to get me noticed by the selection board. During an extended vacation I realised my desire for Command reflected my perception of success as a military professional rather than a step along the road to the person I really wanted to become in the future. I had a plan but it ignored my personal values, goals and philosophy. I decided I needed a personal call to arms to guide my decisions and keep me focused on the better future of my dreams. A personal manifesto.
Many people view a personal manifesto as pretentious but every January we fill the air with our resolutions to loose weight, stop smoking or be a better parent/spouse/friend. Those resolutions are really just a simple form of manifesto but unrecorded and soon forgotten. By writing a simple call to action, and displaying it prominently in your home, office or sanctuary you will soon find yourself being guided subconsciously by those ideals. My own manifesto led me to retire from the military, and focus on creative endeavors like this blog and I could not be happier.
How to write a personal manifesto.
While a personal manifesto may take the form of a long manuscript, I believe simplicity makes it easier to envisage your future. I chose four themes; time management, learning, travel and simplicity.
Next I wrote down what these themes meant to me, developed goals to achieve them and over time refined these ideas into the eight goals and affirmations you see above under each red thematic statement. They guidelines, rather than rigid rules, to keep me heading in the right direction.
I put aside the original rough draft for a few weeks before rereading and refining my manifesto into the document reproduced above.
A printed copy sits prominently next to my desk, and I often find myself reflecting on those words.
I review the manifesto every year, and continue to refine my goals but the basic themes have never changed for me.
As a result I am living the life I imagined but never seemed able to obtain without the guidance this simple document provided me.