Why You Need a Personal Manifesto
Updated: Feb 11, 2019
I mean it, honestly. I really do think everyone needs a personal manifesto. Now I’m not talking about something like The Communist Manifesto or Machiavelli’s The Prince, nothing so sinister (or long for that matter).
What a manifesto does is help you boil down your beliefs into something that has shape to it, and maybe some artistic flair. They can be as simple as a series of phrases, or as complex as a multi-page tome. What is ultimately important is that it defines who you are.
I only created mine because I was looking for a short filler assignment for a creative writing class I was teaching in a local high school as a break was coming up. I wanted something that the kids could sink their teeth into, and I came across these one page manifestos online somewhere. I found businesses that had them and I thought, what the hell, let’s give it a try.
The purpose of a manifesto for a company is to define their vision for the consumer. It helps the savvy modern consumer know which companies they want to do business with and which they may want to avoid, especially in this socially conscious age where we live. I realized that if it could provide identity to a corporation, maybe it could help a handful of creative high school students to find their identity as well.
I put together a list of questions for them to answer then, before I loosed them on it, I tried it myself. At the time, I was a 37 year old father of one with a second on the way. I knew I wanted more out of life than I currently had, but I didn’t know what it was. I was floundering and unsatisfied with life. While the manifesto didn’t change that overnight, it did put me down the path to being happier and more fulfilled with my life.
It put me on the path that has lead me to making this blog, this sight, and the books that I will have for sale. Writing a manifesto put me on the the path to being my best self.
How can you make one?
It may seem difficult or daunting to write a manifesto, the word itself sounds so formal. Honestly, though it will take some solid thinking and soul searching, the process is so incredibly worth it, I’d recommend taking the time.
What I did when I created mine, and when I had my students do to create theirs, was to:
1) Answer a series of 10 seemingly simple questions.
What are the 5 most important things to you?
What do you like to do in your free time?
What do you want to accomplish this year?
What do you want to accomplish in the next 5 years?
What do you want to accomplish in the next 10 years?
What are you willing to do or give up to achieve those goals?
How do you want to be remembered?
What is missing in the world?
What do you want to give to the world?
What would make this world a better place?
2) Take the answers to the questions, all or some, and put them together on a single page document (fun formatting optional).
You can see what I mean by fun formatting by looking at my personal manifesto posted here.
3) Read your manifesto aloud and smooth out what seems rough.
Simple as one–two–three.
What do I do once I have one?
Once you’ve created your manifesto, you can’t let it sit in a drawer somewhere. This is something that needs to be reaffirmed every so often, it needs to be read again and again, shared with others. If you take this seriously, this is the core of who you are or who you want to be.
I’ve made it part of the getting to know you exercises I do with my students at the beginning of every year, and at that time I share my one with them.
I hang my manifesto up in the classroom where I teach, right up front, and I read it first thing every morning when I come into work. When I finally get my home office, I’ll hang one there too.
The trick is, read your manifesto daily, and when you find it no longer fits who you are, write a new one. Defining yourself is one of the best ways I know to find what makes you truly happy.