Writing a personal manifesto is a great exercise for clarifying your thinking — and it’s also a creative, absorbing process. I’ve written my Twelve Personal Commandments, and I also collect Secrets of Adulthood, which aren’t manifestos, but related to the same impulse.
As I’ve been writing Better Than Before, my book about how we make and break habits, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about habit-formation.
I decided I should write my manifesto for habits. Earlier, I’d done a similar exercise, where I distilled each strategy of the book into one sentence, and I also made a list of Secrets of Adulthood for Habits.
Voila, here’s my Habits Manifesto.
- What we do every day matters more than what we do once in a while.
- Make it easy to do right and hard to go wrong.
- Focus on actions, not outcomes.
- By giving something up, we may gain.
- Things often get harder before they get easier.
- When we give more to ourselves, we can ask more from ourselves.
- We’re not very different from other people, but those differences are very important.
- It’s easier to change our surroundings than ourselves.
- We can’t make people change, but when we change, others may change.
- We should make sure the things we do to feel better don’t make us feel worse.
- We manage what we monitor.
- Once we’re ready to begin, begin now.
Have you ever written your own manifesto? If you wrote a manifesto for habits, what would you add (or subtract)?
When I’m writing about a very big subject, I find it helpful to push myself to distill it. Trying to express an idea in very few words forces me to get very clear in my thinking.
In Books and Characters French and English, Lytton Strachey wrote, “Perhaps the best test of a man’s intelligence is his capacity for making a summary.” I’m not sure whether I agree with that, but I absolutely agree that making a summary is a great way to clarify thoughts.