Some people call it a personal mission statement; I call it an intention manifesto. Whatever you call it, it is a published declaration of your intentions/goals/values - it is your personal map to guide you on your journey. It can help identify the underlying reasons for your choices, behaviours and help you understand your own motivations for change. As author (of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) Stephen Covey says, your mission statement is about
“defining the personal, moral and ethical guidelines within which you can most happily express and fulfill yourself.”
Why is it important?
In the context of our theme this month, balance, your intention manifesto can help you notice areas where your life might be losing balance. It can help you get back on track by reminding you of the values and principles that matter most to you. If your goals are producing anything other than the vision set forth by your intention manifesto you can tweak or replace them with new goals to help bring your vision to life.
Businesses create missions statements to provide purpose and direction for the organisation. But it's as vital for individuals to have a mission and a vision for themselves as it is for any business. Creating an intention manifesto can provide clarity, help you define your purpose and serves as the foundation for your goals. That's a big promise right?!
If that wasn't enough, it can help you in many ways such as learning more about yourself, expressing your goals clearly, and becoming the person you want to be.
How to write your intention manifesto:
When you sit down to create your intention manifesto you will examine yourself in more detail than usual. You'll need to learn and understand what you want to achieve and why you want to achieve it.
Step 1: Imagine who you want to be
The first main step in writing your intention manifesto will be to imagine exactly who you want to become. Consider the qualities you want to obtain, the relationships you want to have and how you want to live. This part isn't about what you have now but should reflect your core values and your definition of living with authenticity and integrity. Think about this in relation to all of your roles e.g. business owner, employee, mother, sister, child, partner, carer etc.
You can get inspiration from those around you/celebrities/people in history whom you admire. Think about the qualities you admire; these qualities might relate to their character, values, achievements, personality, or simply the way they live their lives.
Perhaps try finishing this sentence:
When I am being the best partner (business owner, employee, mother etc) I want to...
Step 2: Contemplate your legacy
Using the life roles you determined in step 1 (career, family, community, etc.) write down a short statement of how you would like to be described in each of those roles. Think about how you would like the important people in your life to remember you and talk about you e.g. you might want your client to say "She was an authentic woman who was empathetic, calm and made me feel safe. When I was with her I felt like I was the most important person in the world"
I know it might feel awkward, but no one else has to see it. Remember your intention manifesto is written only to inspire you, not to impress another person. It is to help you decide how you want to step into each of the roles in your life and to clarify in concise words how you want others to perceive you.
Step 3: Determine your intentions
Write down an intention for who you are physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. In each of these areas, what is the most important way you want to express yourself. For example your intention for your physical life might be to treat your body with respect through exercise, keeping fit, eating nourishing foods.
Step 4: What brings you joy?
We all have talents and skills that are important to us and that we enjoy using. Part of your intention manifesto should reflect your best aptitudes and strengths, as it is these which create joy and energy in our lives. Make a list of all of your personal and professional talents, aptitudes, and skills — include even those you perhaps take for granted, like being a good friend or having the ability to organise (self/events/others!). Circle the skills you enjoy or find fulfilling; focus on these.
Step 5: Define your goals
Based on everything you outlined above, what are some related goals you want to achieve in your life? Express and understand your goals clearly by making them as specific as possible. They should also be measurable, achievable, results-focused, and have deadlines. Aim for clear and concise statements.
Considering steps 1-4 - what are the outcomes you want to achieve for your life? Relate your goals and how to achieve them to your values and beliefs. Continue to focus your manifesto by adding goals to the life roles you play.
Your intention manifesto is focused on self-discovery, rather than creation. After clarifying and focusing your ideals and life direction you will be able to refer back to your intention manifesto when making decisions in the future. You will be able to live life with a greater focus and self-awareness.
Finally, this isn't a quick exercise, it can take many hours/days/weeks to craft and many iterations. Feel free to put it down and come back to it. Once you are happy with it, review it often and revise as needed.