I’m writing this on the day after Christmas. It always seems to be a time that encourages reflection.
This time of year feels like what I imagine landfall at a home port must have felt like for the captain and crew of the tall ships in centuries past. There’s all kinds of hoo-hah and celebration, but underneath it all you are thinking and planning and preparing for your next voyage.
Very soon now we’ll be ringing in the new year. Facing future is the order of the day for many folks. It’s a time for reflection on the past year and a time to regroup and re-think.
MAKING A MANIFESTO MEANS CHOOSING YOUR DIRECTION
For my own self it is a time to take a new look at what I call my “manifesto.” I made up this thing about 14 years ago when I realized that every year I spent this time brooding over all my past failures and vowing (yet again) to pick up chops.
Even as I put together my plan for the new year, I knew in my gut that the resulting euphoric high from doing it was likely to last about a month and a half.
After that I fully expected to drown again in the all of everything. I knew I would probably fall right back into the same-old.
The whole process was less than satisfactory. Rather than making yet another to-do list of new year’s resolutions, I decided to choose the direction I was going to head and to write it down.
Here’s my current manifesto’s statement of direction:
“The path I choose, the one I will gladly and freely accept, is the life of a kanaka makua, a sovereign person. This life-path I am choosing is one that is filled with freedom, creativity, love, joy, synergy, balance, aliveness, contentment, peace, art, books and music.”
This statement has stayed pretty much the same for the past few years. It is, after all, the result of years of revision. I do know my statement sounds high-flying and woo-woo to the max, but that is just me. (I’ve always figured that if you aim for the stars, at least you’ll maybe get your ass to the moon….)
The rest of my manifesto goes on to delineate how I plan to walk in the year ahead. I go over the strategies I noted at the beginning of the year. Then I will refine (or dump) the ones that did not work as I expected or write down new ones that I’ve discovered.
I limit the things to no more than the six life-areas that I feel are important:
- caring for the framework of my life (house, gardens, transportation, offices, workspaces, body and finances);
- making room for my heart people;
- playing and helping other people play;
- making the ordinary sacred;
- remembering and honoring the fact that the Creative and the sacred moves through the world;
- learning to dance well with money-energy.
Your life areas will probably be different.
Each area gets no more than six simple strategies to help further the steps I am taking to make a life filled with meaning and mana. It’s gotten a lot easier to do this manifesto-thing now than when I first started. The manifesto sits in a computer file from one year to the next. (Writing it out by hand every time I revised it used to be a major production.)
My manifesto strategies are not goals. There are no dance-step diagrams in this thing and no deadlines that have to be met. They are just a part of a roadmap and a plan for the next journey I am choosing to make in the coming year. As 18th-century historian Edward Gibbon once said, “The winds and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigator.” To my mind, the ablest navigators are the ones who know where they want to go. It’s the first step.
In this ever-changing world, however, on any journey, you do need to be able to “flow with the go,” as Guy Kawasaki says. Objectives, goals, deadlines and such will happen when you interface with the world. Those will come later. Manifesto-making is just choosing the direction in which you are heading. There are no firm-lipped resolutions to mess up, no florid vows to break, and no major deadlines to blow.
For a less woo-woo (and probably more practical) approach to writing a manifesto, here’s this YouTube video “How to Write a Manifesto” published by Empower the Tribe.
A more detailed how-to-do-it may be found in Todd Henry’s book, LOUDER THAN WORDS.
This year when I do my manifesto, I’m also going to try a reflection exercise that online entrepreneur Derek Halpern, the self-styled “conversion expert,” and the founder of the website “Social Triggers” recommends.
Here’s what you do:
- Look back at the past year. Now ask yourself, “What went well?” Do a monthly review of your past year and choose the one thing each month that worked out really well for you. (I plan to look through my old planner book and my journals for the year. I’ll pick out the triumphs and blessings in a year beset with setbacks and list the best, one for each month.)
- Now, look at all those shiny triumphs and ask, “Can I do it again? How?” As Halpern says, “If something went well once, it can go well again.” The thing you have to figure out is how to make that happen.
And that’s it….
My own feeling on this is that if you can spend your time figuring out how to replicate and reiterate the things that worked during the past year and then go do it again next year, then by the end of the year, you’ll probably have a whole bunch of new shiny stuff.
The exercise could also be a good way to remind yourself that the Universe is still on your side…especially after a hard year.
Halpern shares his knowledge of psychology with entrepreneurs and bloggers, helping them gain greater market share with many counter-intuitive strategies that work. You might want to check out his website, Social Triggers.
A NAVIGATOR’S HANDBOOK
One book I’ve found valuable in thinking about all this stuff is LIFE CYCLES: Your Emotional Journey to Freedom and Happiness, by Christine DeLorey. DeLorey is a writer and world-renowned numerologist.
The book is divided into three parts. First you learn how to find your “Destiny Number,” the one you were born with and what it may mean for you. Then you learn how to determine where you are on your Journey through the 108 possible cycles of your life, year by year and month by month. The last part is an explanation of DeLorey’s philosophy and why she constructed the book in this particular way.
The structure of this book has proven to be useful to me. Knowing where I am in a cycle of my life and using that as a starting point, I have been able to make some fairly good decisions that have led me to very good places in my life. I have also, I think, been able to resolve many puzzling questions for myself and find new ways of thinking as well.
Numerology is an ancient way of studying life. Whether you believe in its effectiveness or not, in the hands of a person like DeLorey, who has apparently thought deeply about life and how to live it most effectively, numerology becomes a very useful tool for finding strategies for navigating through all of the situations and circumstances that life can throw at you. It makes the chaos feel more organized.
For years now, at the start of each month I have read the relevant entry in DeLorey’s book for whatever month of the cyclically numbered year I’m living through. I pick out the likely lessons for the month. I consider DeLorey’s suggestions for dealing with them. During the month I often get the chance to try out these suggestions.
I am not sure why this practice seems to work. (It could just be a function of where I am putting my attention, after all.)
However, when I’ve encountered situations that go wonky, I’ve been able to take stances and make moves that help resolve things in a satisfying way using DeLorey’s advice. The lessons I’ve learned along the way have been eye-opening and the take-aways I’ve gotten from the situations are often surprising and sometimes counter-intuitive.
I do recommend giving DeLorey’s LIFE CYCLES a space on your reference shelf. Perhaps it will work well for you as well….
Doing the work of making a manifesto, then trying to figure out where you might explore next and how, then working your way through your year following the things you’ve thought on seems like a lot of complications for an already complex life, I know. For some reason, though, I’ve found that making the time and doing it upfront in this way seems to help you figure out how to take care of getting the most important things in your life done.
Meaning and mana in a life doesn’t just happen automatically, I find. Maybe nothing that is worthwhile happens automatically….
In any case, it sure does work better than making dumb resolutions that you know you are never going to keep.
Here’s a poem:
It seems to me that this whole year
I’ve been looking at who I am and where.
I like me.
I like where I am.
For one whose imperative seems to be
About growing, about transformation,
This is a conundrum:
What do I keep?
What do I let go?
How do I change?
Or do I have any say, really?
I know the direction I am wanting to go…
Towards peace and joy and love.
I am learning again what doesn’t get me there.
But, it seems a small goal, a very little one.
Still, if I can get there
Maybe I can point the way
For others who are trying to get there as well.
Maybe that is all that I can do.