When I was back working at my 9-6 job and toying with the idea of going freelance full-time, my life coach asked me if I had a manifesto.
A freakin’ manifesto? I mean, was she joking?! I spent most of my time writing for other people, as if I wanted to spend my precious spare time writing out a silly mission statement! I have multiple TV shows I’m emotionally invested in. I have very little spare time.
And obviously, the reason I was doing it was simple: to earn money in my pajamas.
Joking (kind of).
Embarrassingly, I’d never even thought about why I wanted to be a freelance copywriter. And a manifesto? Isn’t that what people wrote when they were doing life-changing work? Like saving the world? Helping the homeless? Building wells in Africa?
I’m a freelance copywriter. I don’t need a mission.
You see, it’s a common occurrence amongst, well, everyone. To act without intention, without goals, without motives, without beliefs.
It happens every day:
The university student, choosing to study law just because it pays well.
The serial dater, who feels guilty for turning down someone’s affections.
The over eater, who’s not really hungry but continues to binge anyway.
See what I mean? No intentions. The shit, inevitably, will hit the fan.
What is a manifesto?
Your manifesto is a written declaration that defines your mission, no matter your vocation (or lack there of). It outlines your principles, your values, your core beliefs, and what actions you’ll take to live your life accordingly.
It’s not necessarily a reflection of what you’re doing in the present moment: you might be steps behind what reality you’re planning to step into. But your manifesto describes an ideal scenario for you. That is, the best version of your self (professional or otherwise).
It doesn’t matter what you do (or what you don’t do) – you need a clear set of intentions to refer back to when you’re wondering at midnight ‘What is the point of this all?’ It’s a powerful reminder of why you’re persevering in the face of uncertainty and poor cash flow. A good manifesto is the juice that fuels your actions, and defines why you’re doing what you’re doing.
It doesn’t have to be a hard task. Even if you’re “not a very good writer”, here are 5 ways that you can get clarity on your purpose.
How to write a manifesto
Start with your first name.
I begin my manifesto by introducing myself. It’s a rock-solid statement that contains one tough kernel of truth – my birth name. Nobody can argue with that, so it sets up the tone for the rest of my manifesto.
Example: “Hello world. My name is Cher Horowitz.”
Describe your values.
What is it that lights you up? Gets your inner fire started? What sickens you? What makes you angry? What makes you sad? What completely and utterly breaks your heart?
Example: “I believe that life is too short for boring clothing. Everyone has a right to look OTT hot on any given day of the week. You don’t have to live in clogs.”
List your strengths
What strengths do you have that can reinforce your values? How do you see your skills underscoring your beliefs?
Example: “As a skilled stylist who understands fashion, I’m a pro at helping people look their best. I know when a person can wear boyfriend jeans, and the right time to wear open toe mules.
State what you know
This one I have appropriated from Alexandra Franzen, being the evergreen individual that I am.
Drop a few undeniable truths (that feel true for you).
Example: “There is nothing worse than wearing cowboy boots outside of 2005.”
“Dressing for the wrong body type should be met with compassionate understanding and a stylish remedy.”
Define your ideal world
What kind of a world do you want to live in? How will the world benefit from your unique snowflake self?
Example: “I want to live in a world where style is the essence of self-expression, and seasonal trends come secondary.”
If you’re going to do what you do without any skuzzy feelings, you’re going to need a clear set of motivations that inform your mission. There’s always money, prestige, ego-stroking and material things – but what else motivates you?
I’m going to leave you with a quote from Harv Eker:
“If you’re not juiced by joy and purpose, it ain’t gonna work, not for the distance anyway. You can get short burst of success based on anger or fear, but these create stress. You might win the game financially for a short period of time, but you won’t be rich on a spiritual, emotional and mental level.”
— Harv Eker