Check out anyone’s Facebook page, and you’ll get a story of who they are. Yes, a story, but not necessarily the real picture. Not the manifesto of their lives or the depths of their souls.
What we put out to the world and how we present ourselves is just the overcoat of our true selves. It’s the glossy surface of the deeper, more complicated, and frankly more interesting people we really are.
I find people with histories, baggage, flaws, and regrets far more compelling than those who lives appear perfect and “normal” — whatever that is. Give me a messed up soul who’s examined their lives and can embrace their flaws over the veneered perfectionist whose mask never slips any day.
I’m fascinated by people and their stories. I want to know the authentic person on the other side of that computer screen. What are their dreams? What are their longings? What are their inner motivations? I want to know their personal operating system in this world and on what terms they want to connect and interact.
It’s surprising how few people even know themselves under the surface of their Facebook page character study. Sure, they know the roles they play in life and the socially acceptable responses to the questions, “Who are you?” and “What are your goals in life?” But who takes the time for a deep dive? Who spends the energy to poke around in the guts of their psyche to ferret out their true selves.
As Socrates says, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” That may be a bit harsh, but there’s enough truth there to sit up and pay attention. There’s a lot more to you than meets the eye, but with the complications of daily life, you may not have taken the time to get to know yourself. Couple that with the fear we carry about what’s really under the hood and what people will think of us, and we may prefer to stay unexamined and contained forever.
The problem with ignoring the deeper parts of yourself is that you disengage from a more sacred, dynamic experience of life and people. You leave the bests parts of yourself on the table, and sadly, you may not know what you’re missing.
That’s why it is so valuable to embark on a journey of self-exploration and self-awareness to create your own personal manifesto. Uncover your core values and spend a considerable amount of time asking yourself the hard questions like, “What am I passionate about?” “What are my greatest strengths?” “Who am I and what do I stand for?”
As you answer these questions, begin to learn how to write your manifesto.
What is a manifesto?
Literally speaking, your manifesto is a declaration of your life principles. It’s what makes you tick—what is important to you beyond the Facebook profile description.
It may not necessarily reflect how you view yourself right now. You may be experiencing challenges in your career, relationships and with self-esteem, but your manifesto is not these issues—it’s the person you are underneath them.
Your manifesto is about realizing your deeper self. It’s about figuring out who is the real you—the man or woman beneath the veneer. The person that’s aching to be seen and brought into the light. It is your best self on display for the world to see.
Why write a manifesto?
As I mentioned before, we may think we know ourselves, but when we ask the insightful, probing questions, we discover we don’t really know ourselves at all. Could you easily summarize who you are and what matters to you in just two or three sentences?
When we have a clear picture in our minds of our authentic selves, and we can translate that concept into words, our manifesto becomes a written expression of that to serve as a reminder and compass in our lives. It guides our decisions and is a safe place to return in times of trouble when we may have forgotten who we are.
How to write a manifesto.
1. Define and focus on your strengths
We were all born with many innate strengths, which we may or may not utilize. The key is to discover what they are and how to use them to live a more abundant life. Check out the book called the StrengthsFinder 2.0, to help you identify and learn more about your top five strengths. Build on your strengths rather than strengthening your weakness. This is a better use of your time and energy, and it gives you a real boost in self-confidence.
2. Figure out your values
What are the values you that define how you want to live your life and make decisions? Respect? Integrity? Kindness? Confidence? Sit down with a pen and paper and think of all the values that matter to you. Then try to narrow the list down to five or six. You can see a list of values here to help you. If you have trouble narrowing down your list remember that some values may fall under the umbrella of one bigger core value. For example, kindness may be a manifestation of love for you. So love may be the core value rather than both love and kindness.
3. Consider your passions.
What makes you want to leap out of bed in the morning? What would you spend your time doing if money were no object? What engages you, fulfills you, and brings you joy? Perhaps it’s been a while since you’ve really been in touch with your passions. Take this time to dream and experiment with your heart. What would your perfect day look like in an ideal world? If you don’t know what it is, then take the time to find your passion.
4. What breaks your heart?
Do you cry when you watch the news or read romantic books? What about this beautiful broken world touches your soul and makes you want to take action? If you could be part of world change, where would you place yourself?
5. How do you want others to see you?
We all care about what other people think of us. What do you want people to say and think about you? If they were to describe you, what would you be proud to hear them say? List a few attributes, whether you believe people would describe you that way or not.
6. What fears, failures, and life experiences have shaped you?
The challenges we face in life serve as great teachers if we pay attention. They give us information about what we want to change, how we want to grow, and who we want to be in the future. Write down some of these experiences and who you’ve become as a result of them.
7. What are you afraid of revealing or admitting?
Sometimes our fears show us the parts of ourselves we can’t reveal. If we’ve been living an “act” or pretending to be someone we’re not, it’s hard to admit that we’ve been lying to ourselves and others. But this is an important step in creating your manifesto. Acknowledging and accepting what is false about your life gives you the power to recreate life on your own terms.
8. Pull it all together and write.
You’ve gathered a lot of information about yourself; it’s going to take a while to pull it all together. So take some time to play with words, to define the authentic person you are and that you can work towards. This is the true story of you that really fits with your heart, soul, and core beliefs.
Your manifesto can be as long or short as you like. In fact, I’ve seen some great manifestos that are bullet points or mindmaps. You can write it in paragraph form or as a story of your life. Use your creativity and personal style of expression to craft this uniquely personal document.
Don’t expect that this will all come together in twenty minutes; it takes time to figure out who you are and what you stand for. But developing a manifesto as your personal guide through life is an excellent way to stay true to your authentic self, your dreams and your goals.
If you decide to write your manifesto, please share it in the comments below. Others who read this post can benefit and learn from your example.
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