Give to Yourself

A manifesto is a declaration of your core values, beliefs, intentions, longings and/or goals. The first step to creating one is to dig into yourself. Don’t be afraid to go deep. Be honest with yourself and what you want—your vision for your life. Do some exploring! Make lists for each question, or write in stream of consciousness. Whatever way your words flow from you and onto the page is the way to write.

1.   What do you love? (Begin with: “I love…” for each different thought.)

2.   What do you value? (Begin with: “I value…” for each different thought.)

3.   What do you believe? (Begin with … well, you get the picture for the rest of these.)

4.   What do you want? What do you long for?

5.   What are you committed to? What action(s) can you take?

6.   What do you want to accomplish? What can you do to accomplish this?

7.   What is true for you and your life?

8.   What gives you purpose? What gives your life meaning?

9.   What are you beginning?

10. What are you ending?

11. What are your truths you know for sure?

12. What do you want the world to be like? How can you contribute to this vision? What actions can you take to help make it so?

13. What do you want others to know about you? How do you want to be seen by others? How do you see yourself?

14. What are you afraid of admitting to the world? To yourself?

15. Look up some of the above words that surfaced in the dictionary and thesaurus. See if any resonate. Write down more of what each means to you.

Now, look at what you wrote. Pull your words and phrases together and keep to the positive. If you wrote, “I don’t have time to write,” turn it into, “Make time to write.” Or, if you wrote, “I don’t want people to be so nasty to each other,” switch it to, “I long for kindness and compassion in the world” or “I will BE kindness and compassion.”

You can use any format that works for you: bullet points, mind maps, lists. There is no right or wrong way to do this. One style is to write your manifesto as advice to yourself. It’s like your inner self—that voice you don’t always hear or heed—talking to you. For instance, if kindness is something you highly value, write, “Be kind to everyone, whether you agree with them or not.” If laughter gives your life meaning, turn that into, “Laugh hard and loud, no matter who can hear you.”

If you wish, turn your statements into a piece of artwork. However you see it, bring it out into the world. Craft your manifesto for you.

Kathy Steffen is an award-winning novelist and author of the “Spirit of the River” series: “First, There Is a River,” “Jasper Mountain” and “Theater of Illusion,” available online and in bookstores everywhere. She writes from her home in Spring Green that she shares with her husband and three cats. Find out more at www.kathysteffen.com.