Designing My Life: My Manifesto

The next exercise I tackled in my Designing Your Life process was by far the most difficult. Bill and Dave refer to it as “Building a Compass”. Think of it as a manifesto. At its core, it is fodder for philosophy students everywhere. The goal is to create a Workview and a Lifeview — two short essays –that when evaluated together provide a glimpse at how well these two views are aligned.

Workview comes first in the book so that’s the order in which I tackled it. My first version, months ago, was a brain dump. I tweaked it a little, but it was stream of consciousness and as a piece of writing is unpublishable. The second time around, this past week, I approached the exercise with the list of questions provided, and then read my answers versus my first version to look for trends.

Voilà! Three themes emerged:

  1. Work Ethic: we all should do something. Whether we are doing it as a job, in support of our families, our communities, or our planet. “Trust fund babies” have as big an obligation as the rest of us to do something. For themselves, their families, their community, the world. We have choice of what we do, but we should all do something. Which brings us to my second theme – talent.
  2. Talent: Do the best you can with the talents you’ve been given. When our eldest son entered pre-school at three-years-old, his teacher asked all the parents what we wanted for our children and their education. My husband and I were in perfect agreement then as now – we wanted our son to find his talents and then do his best with them. If it’s not math or science or English, that’s fine. Maybe it’s kindness, or art, or like when he was three – a passion for the Titanic. Find your talents. Continuously develop them. Use them as best you can, and if you are lucky, you use them at work. And if you don’t? Keep trying.
  3. Money: I’m a pragmatist and most of us aren’t trust fund babies. Money matters. If your talent is poetry, to use one of Bill and Dave’s examples of a gravity problem, then you’re going to have rely on your work ethic to pay the bills. Poetry won’t. Teaching, writing, maybe bartending or accounting on the side. Whatever you need to do, but money puts a roof over your head, clothes on your back and food on your table. It cannot be ignored.

Lifeview was a bear. Way harder. I don’t think I could tackle these questions in a lifetime. Even if I sat under a tree and meditated on them for years. So when I tackled the Lifeview exercise the second time, I limited myself to the thirty minutes that Bill and Dave suggested. And in the several days since I’ve mulled it over.

Like I said, this exercise was tough. I reserve the right to change my Lifeview in the future. But for now, I’m going to settle on this: Everything on this planet (and maybe in this universe) is connected.

Which to me means that the individual is inextricably linked to their environment when they are young, and the community and the world have an obligation to teach our children, and ultimately ourselves, basic humanitarian principles. In my few years of practicing meditation, I have landed on the following key principles:

  • Kindness
  • Compassion
  • Patience
  • Tolerance
  • Self-Discipline

Recently I have added Optimism and Authenticity to my list. It’s just where I am. (You Are Here!)

Where is the congruence? How will this all tie in to my ultimate career reinvention? It is hard to tell, but it is pretty clear that homogenous, intolerant work environments that believe in imposing their views on their employees and customers would be a bad fit for me. And co-workers who can’t stay on a disciplined scheduled without being prodded would be a tough pill to swallow. So I suppose we are getting somewhere…

Joy this week: Most certainly writing this blog and feeling good about my manifesto. Speaking to an old friend after a long time. Wearing makeup just because.

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