Me Manifesto: Define Your Impact On The World
I initially titled this post Me Manifesto: Define Your Impact on The World. That seemed daunting so I removed on the World. A day later I came back to the post and found it was missing a key element; the World. Why?
Because there is no reason to set limits on my goals.
It's the new year, and with it, that overwhelming rush and desire to finally make those changes that seem to elude me. I definitely join in the frenzy, motivated that it's a major start to something; the year of 2018! But past years have shown a trend in which motivation starts off strong then slowly dims over time until I'm back to the old habits. It is annoying as hell. I'm determined to change that.
Unsurprisingly, a book opened up my perspective, and I saw from it how your goals can come to fruition.
I've already referenced it once before because it is so compelling and incredibly helpful. It's called Louder Than Words: Harnessing The Power of Your Authentic Voice by Todd Henry. I happened upon it at Powell's Bookstore and one section of the book described the benefits of creating this thing called a manifesto.
In a conversation with a friend, Todd explained a manifesto:
"a short document that captures the essence of who you are, what you stand for, and where you're headed". [A] living creed that helps you and those you interact with know what you're about."
It's defining your purpose behind your direction. Your credo. Your desired mark on the community around you.
It's all about the ability to put into effective words, what you want to accomplish out of your life and the path you wish to take.
It is also your inspiration. It's not so much a comprehensive description of the methods or structure of your business, but the core value beneath those decisions. It is especially helpful when you feel stuck or overwhelmed by the development of your business or message by answering some key questions that Henry lists out.
"what change do you want to see in the world through your work?"
"what value do you want to create?"
"how will you know your success?"
A manifesto creates clarity and direction of purpose both for you as well as for others. It is an introduction, a foundation, a reflection of your desired future.
So, how do you write a manifesto?
define your who
The who is your audience. The end result of your work, product, or service is essentially to serve people, even implicitly. They are the ones who will be impacted and therefore it is important to make a conscious effort to identify their needs. Clarity, as mentioned before, is best known when you know who you are serving. Say you are a blogger who writes predominately about the sustainability of ecosystems and wildlife, your who will be those who believe in your message, who align themselves in that lifestyle or those who are interested in adopting that lifestyle. You cannot appease or serve everyone because not everyone requires the same needs or share your passion, but when you gain focus on who will benefit from your work then you can find the discernible in the concept.
step No. 2
define your what
Take the overarching concepts and turn them into something definitive and understandable. Here is where action takes place. It is the content or the product you create that bridges your why to your who. As Henry points out, it is about the value that you are wanting to "interject into the cultural conversation through your work". Sometimes the message is the action, made so through books or articles, vlogs or podcasts. Or it could be something like clothing, wellness products, classes. Whatever it is, the essential point is that it serves as "the tangible evidence of your action through your work". It has a call to action that resonates with people.
step no. 3
define your why
Why are you invested in your work? What is the reason behind your actions? What gives you purpose? I think of the why as that overarching concept mentioned above. It is the vision for how you see not just your own life, but the livelihoods of others and the world, whom you want to affect. Your why is also the rock to cling to when conflict or contention arises. Not everyone may agree with you or like what you produce, and it's enough to question the what when you hear negative feedback. But when you hold firmly to your why, it steers you back to that greater purpose, and you can know what difference you want to make and how you want people to be affected by it.
I think these three are fluid components. As we grow, enter new fields, learn new things, gain new experiences, so our values and interests change. But I also believe that your why should remain the most steadfast component to the three because products and techniques can change, technology developments render certain applications unneeded, even who you want to reach out to can change.
But the base motivation for going after a fulfilled life is critical to continuing to move forward, backward, and forward again.
A quick but important point that Henry talks about is making sure your manifesto is reflective of you in a natural way. There isn't a need to use opulent language if that isn't how you speak or doesn't align with your who, what, and why. The manifesto is intended to be authentic, resonant, and honest because it is you who are writing it. You, who are authentic, resonant, and honest. So, when you embrace authenticity, not pretend to be something other than what you are, you will create a powerful manifesto...and a powerful life.
Here is Me Manifesto
in it's rough first draft glory
I am a creative who designs and writes for the purpose of uplifting others to find their fulfillment in life. I seek to design spaces that are reflective of its user who I believe deserves to be seen, known, and confident of their own ability to create in an environment that is safe and inspiring. I seek to write pieces that can create dialogues, connection, curiosity. To share my story as much to live a life of reflection, but also to inspire others to do the same. I want my mark on the world to be genuine and honest, devoid of the numbers, so that even if just a few people are touched by my efforts, I can walk away fulfilled. My creative impulses are intrinsic to me, I feel a lack when I don't pursue them, so I decide each day to define them and manifest them so I can learn from masters, cultivate my own identity, and help others through Interior Design, writing, and truly every other creative outlet.
I still set debilitating limits on myself. Like an impression on my psyche, I've pressed the insecurities so deep over the years. But the urging drive is so much stronger than I give it credit. So much stronger than those limits. If I open up to the possibility that they could flourish, they will gain momentum by my continual and imperfect commitment. I have learned that impression can change to make way for a new one. Writing this manifesto is a great way to do that, my declaration that I'm going to live this life to the fullest, and never stop the pursuit. And this is only my first draft, there's much more growing left for me to hone this manifesto.
I encourage you to do the same.