When I do something… anything… I am making a declaration to the world about what I believe is important and right and true and beautiful.
I don’t always think of that when I cut someone off on the freeway or take time to look someone in the eye when they’re speaking or drive an extra two miles to find a special Starbucks that serves Clover (that’s for you Brian Gardner) or stand up for someone or sit quietly or gossip or care enough to listen or blow someone off or when I get home when I say I will or when I’m “just 15 minutes late.”
Every move I make is an unavoidable, micro-manifesto on who I actually am.
If I pause long enough to notice what’s going on for me, I have the ability to discover some very powerful insights about myself. This results-based living isn’t always flattering but always offers a kind of embedded explanatory power on why my life is turning out the way it is.
What seems particularly potent to me with examples like the one’s above, is how easy it is to miss how my pedestrian habits tell me what I actually believe and the ideas I actually live from.
When I’m asleep at the wheel I don’t even experience actions like these as conscious choices. Because they’re not. I just do stuff, often unknowingly. In this way, my habits run my life.
Over the last year, I’ve taken some hard looks at the parts of my life I don’t like much and worked in very grounded ways to interrupt my habits. And, shocker, my world is looking pretty different: I’m connecting with my wife and kids in fresh and more honest ways, my business projects are growing, I’m giving more, I’m down to about my high school weight, I am paying off debt (slowly), I’m writing and teaching more than ever (which I love) and as a result, my work is more fulfilling. I have plenty of headroom of course and fail plenty too. But the steady (and often unsexy) direction I’m actually walking in is what’s got me amped.
The ingredients to this new trajectory?
- Notice my life and the lives around me.
- Ask myself if the way I’m relating is for me.
- Decide to carry on or mix it up immediately – like with real actions.
- Give any required habit changes all I’ve got.
It’s been fashionable in recent years for individuals and companies to publish declarations online on what they think and plan to do. I wonder if all that manifesto work is a little redundant. No doubt, there’s huge value in deciding your days before they happen. Even more value in keeping those commitments. But, our actual manifestoes are being lived out in real time whether we’re paying attention or not.