Writing your manifesto

An important step for any person cultivating a Life's Work is to draft and circulate a manifesto.

A manifesto is a written expression of your inner most beliefs, an explanation about why those beliefs are important, and recommendations for how the world should change in response to those beliefs. 

We live in an era where we are expected to be passive consumers of the the messages of others, and in particular, the messages from powerful corporations, interests and governments. Some studies estimate we are exposed to 10,000 brand messages per day.

A manifesto is a rebuttal to the act of being a passive consumer. It acts as an affirmative mission statement, and provides a vision of an alternative world in which people are creating, not merely consuming.

In many ways, a manifesto can become the framework for your Life's Work. It acts as a map in finding deeper truths and insights about why you are here, and it also serves as a compass in case you are lost and are not sure where to go.

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Here are some tips in writing your manifesto:

(i) A manifesto challenges you to think about what it you really believe, and why. In starting your manifesto, think about those beliefs about existence, life and the nature of the universe that are at the very core of your being.

One thing that is very much at the core of my being is the belief that this is a time of deep crisis for our species, and for life more generally. The foundation of this belief comes from the science of extinction, as well as from my personal experience in dealing with a society that, for me, has always seemed maladjusted and out of tune.

Explore what it is you believe, and why. This is a lot like "peeling the onion," in that you may discover that as you explore your beliefs, you find deeper beliefs that are the underpinning of more surface beliefs, and so on. Keep peeling until you find something that seems very basic to who you are.

(ii) The process of writing a manifesto is important, and don't feel compelled to rush it. Make lists about your core beliefs, and think through important decisions you've made in life, and why. Think about what it is that made you choose your current job or life in a particular city. If you could change the world, what aspects would change, and why?

Look at those lists and update them over the course of days, weeks, or even months.  As you start to refine these things, you will notice common threads that will act as the outline of a manifesto.

(iii) Review other manifestos to see what has been important for other people. There are art manifestos, design manifestos and political manifestos. A manifesto can be as long or as short as you want it to be. You will know when it is finished. 

(iv) Every mission-driven organization, whether non-profit or for profit, should draft a corporate manifesto. An organizational manifesto focuses the organization and acts as a uniting mission statement. I just finished the corporate manifesto for Just Atonement Inc., the legal non-profit I founded a year ago, and I am really happy with it. It encompasses and describes everything I want the organization to accomplish. It tells the world why we're different, what we stand for, and why people should support us.