A personal manifesto is a letter to yourself, a reminder and a call to live under your terms.
For some reason, people tend to struggle to draft their manifesto. Maybe it is the word “manifesto”. Maybe it reveals a lack of self-knowledge. Maybe it has to do with the fear to discover your true personality. Writing down your manifesto should not impress you this much. It is simply an exercise to get to know yourself better. It is not your official bio. It is a work-in-progress, that you can edit anytime.
Start by figuring out who you are (using games, tests, visualization). Then question who you think you are. Finally draft your own adventure book, who you want to become.
It is fine to keep it secret. In a previous article “the Artisan and the Plagist” I gave examples of manifesto to live by (any similarity to a real person is purely coincidental).
Step 1: Find out who you are
Question your assumptions. Get started on your self-discovery journey by finding out: What drives your curiosity? What motivates you?
Don’t take it too seriously, make it fun and playful like a puzzle game based on small personality traits to connect and piece together as a whole.
You can check some existing personality tests to guide you as you start such as the 16 Personalities ( at 16personalities.com)
The idea beyond the game and self-questioning is for you to figure out your main tendencies and personality traits.
Ask yourself many questions: Are you an introvert or an extravert? Are you a Moderator or an Abstainer? Are you sensitive to outer expectations (family, friends, society…)? Do you have a habit of trying to keep up with the Joneses? Or are you more of a rebel? How are you dealing with your own expectations?
The games and tests are ice-breakers and there to help you getting started and asking yourself the right questions. In addition to these tests, take some time to look at previous experiences and write down some skills you have acquired and any relevant areas of expertise you may have developed.
Think about what you are good at. Organize your skills, traits of personality into a Strengths vs Weaknesses comparison table.
You are not passing a job interview or writing your resume. To be relevant, your strength evaluation has to be realistic. Don’t undermine some qualities. Don’t be overconfident and avoid trying to sell yourself. Stay true to yourself. It is a snapshot, which will keep evolving. Don’t judge a weakness. Don’t hide part of your personality. Stay honest and right on the facts. Your manifesto can stay a secret. Write down what you perceive as limitations (for example, I don’t know how-to draw. I actually don’t play any musical instrument). Mention your fears.
As you start to craft your portrait… find out if you can pinpoint: What do you enjoy doing? What comes easy to you? What are your true callings? What are your priorities? What you are good at? What sparks your curiosity? What do you dream about? What do you want to learn? What do you want to do? Where would you like to live? What would you dream to do? Who would you dream to become?
Step 2: Challenge who you think you are
Any past experience, setback or struggle in life or at work may help you to realize parts of your personality. It is almost like a verification process during which you look back to make sure that you truly who you think you are. Sometimes the results of the personality tests don’t coincide with your true personality. They are simply to direct you during your introspection. They can not be 100% true and accurate. Nobody knows yourself better than you do. Look back in your past to get clues and verify if some personality traits are correct.
Step 3: Draft a self-reminder of who you want to become.
Your manifesto should echo the person that you want to become. It is a work in progress, a draft that should keep evolving. Now it is time to recap what you collected from the first steps to clarify and organize your manifesto.
Start from what you learned from the personality tests and what came up from your questioning especially your core values and guiding principles.
Look further into what sparks your curiosity, what inspires you, what are your motives, objectives in life… It doesn’t need to be realistic, especially when you start.Try to encapsulate the essence of what can make your life better, more fulfilling and meaningful in a fun way.
Finally collect your insights and organize your manifesto by making sure you answered most essential questions: What You want, When, Where, How and Why. Sometimes we know what we want to become but not yet where or when. An unanswered question can lead you to realize that you have to investigate further.
WHO? at this stage, it should be almost obvious. Try to picture the quintessence of your vision.
WHERE? are you happy where you are? Did you find your basecamp? your happy place?
WHEN? do you have any timeline in mind? Is it possible to start now? What prevents you from starting? Do you have an idea of the Before / During / After?
WHAT? can you write in few sentences the essence of what it is that you want to become or that you want to experience?
HOW? any idea on how to get there? Any plan on how-to manage to become what you are looking for? Any new endeavor will require some sacrifices and some temporary cutbacks. Are you ready to make compromises? Do you know what is essential in your life?
WHY? It doesn’t need to be obvious, it may take a life to figure out your real motives. WHY may remain a question. Not knowing should not prevent you from starting and clarify it as you go.
Your personal manifesto has to reveal your dreams, your grit, your aspirations in a strong and motivational way… It is a magic mantra to wake you up, to guide you to achieve your personal best, to remind you of what’s essential for you and hopefully to help you to enjoy the life you want.
Stay patient, flexible and agile… life will most certainly play with your plans.
Your manifesto is a dream in progress without any guarantee. It is your lucky star, a good spirit and protective angel to remind you of what is essential in your life. Your manifesto tells you how, where and when you feel 100% alive.