What Do You Believe In?

Most of us are comfortable with developing plans for projects. But how many of us actually think about a life plan? The view from 30,000 feet, as it were.

I’m talking about a personal manifesto.

When I first heard of the concept of a manifesto, I rolled my eyes. I don’t need no stinkin’ manifesto. I know what I’m doing. I jut sit down and do my work, right? The thing is, I had to think really hard about what I believed in. It turned out to be more difficult than I thought, and not silly after all.

I kept getting manifestos mixed up with mission statements. You know, those stuffy, framed documents you see in boardrooms and lobbies—“We aim to provide bla bla bla”.


Think of a manifesto as a statement of your core beliefs, goals and priorities. Ask yourself what kinds of things you believe in. What’s your purpose? Why do you do the things you do? Consider it a GPS to keep you on track, and to help you find your way if you get lost.

A manifesto:

  • Is a framework for what you believe in.
  • Clears away the clutter, and focusses on what’s important.
  • Is a living document, and will change as you progress.
  • Is a way to build new and better habits.
  • Should be motivating.
  • Will help get you back on track when things get tough.

Here’s mine:

  1. Fear will not prevent me from acting.
  2. I show up everyday, whether I feel like it or not.
  3. I’m an optimist, and not a wishful thinker.
  4. I accept “real” feedback to improve my work, and don’t take it personally.
  5. I look to others I admire for inspiration, but don’t let them intimidate me.
  6. I take smaller, calculated risks rather than play it safe.
  7. I put a firewall around bad clients.
  8. I lay my head down at night, knowing I’m satisfied with the work I did that day.
  9. I’m part of a community of supporters.

Those are all pretty over-arching statements. They’re straightforward, and I find following them helps a lot of other things fall into place.

This is the time to think big. Saying “I do neo-retro illustrations” isn’t a value or principle. What kinds of things do you want to strive for? What kind of life do you want to live? Bring some emotion into your document.

Keep your manifesto handy. Frame it and put it on your wall, or
keep it handy where where you can refer it.

When you’re having difficulty making a decision, look to it.

It will point the way.