I used to think of manifestos as the trouble making document that Jerry Maguire circulated at the talent agent organization he worked at right before they fired him for audaciously claiming his truth. That is, until I read The Motivation Manifesto by Brendon Burchard. It appeared in my life a bit suspiciously. A free offering, if I paid for the shipping. But, the title intrigued me and a little voice in my head said, “This could be a life changer.” And it was…and continues to be every day since opening the first pages of this smart little book in a smooth black and gold dressing.
At the time, my life looked to be falling apart. I couldn’t stand one more day as a Human Resources leader doing the bidding of an authoritarian organization. I had quit my job for a recruiting contract out of London, only to find out the woman I would have supported died that weekend of cancer. My husband and I were breaking up. A creative project was floundering. My two cats were diagnosed with renal failure. My health was failing from stress. OMG!
For the first time in my life, I was alone, truly alone with all my thoughts of worthlessness and despair. I wanted to crawl under the covers and disappear. I did disappear. I stopped going to faith meetings. I stopped taking calls. I could only find the strength to crawl into my home office and do my recruiting contract. When the last call of the day was complete, I crawled back to my bed, withering away. I ate popcorn for dinner every night.
THE MOTIVATION MANIFESTO
And then, I saw a FB ad pop up on the little white screen of my iPhone. THE MOTIVATION MANIFESTO. “Order it, Heather. You need this,” said that little voice in the dark. Also, I love Paulo Coelho, the author of The Alchemist. He endorsed the damn book saying it would lift “…the reader from mere motivation into a soaringly purposeful and meaningful life.” Oh, how I wanted to be lifted with purpose! When it arrived, the written words pounded in my chest and whispered in my ear, romancing me into giving a damn. This, I know. I couldn’t put it down. It got me out of my bed, practicing my faith again, writing down my intentions, and taking action.
Since my first reading of this marvelous text in 2014, my life is well on it’s way to realizing my dreams. I wrote, directed and produced a full-length feature film. My resume writing business is thriving and paying my bills. I bought a cute little house with an organic garden and, I am essentially debt free. I still have a lot of work to do, especially in the area of relationships, but that will never stop and I’m grateful for the obstacles and the challenges that grew me into the woman I am today.
This is how I did it, based on the 9 Declarations by Brendon Burchard:
Declaration 1 – We Shall Meet Life with Full Presence and Power
I grasped that I had spent my almost 50 years on earth living for others, doing what they expected me to do, and cleaning up what others would not cleanup for themselves, all in an effort to keep the peace and a bubble of safety for myself. But, no matter what I did, life wasn’t peaceful and I wasn’t safe. Nobody is safe. We can’t predict what is going to come our way. We can’t control what others do to try and prevent the rug from being pulled out from under us at any given moment.
Therefore, I declared that I will use all of skills and personal power to face the dark before the dawn and overcome all obstacles. I determined to learn what I didn’t know when faced with a new challenge. I got out of bed every morning, took a shower, got dressed and faced my day with an expectation that I could make a difference by giving every task my fullest attention in every moment.
Declaration 2 – We Shall Reclaim Our Agenda
I accepted that I had been living my life based on what other expected me to do. I started my career in a job that I didn’t want in order to earn money to feed my kids, because their father didn’t help me pay the bills. I got a degree in a field I wasn’t excited about because it was the practical thing to do – even though I wanted to get my degree in creative writing. I lived in Dallas, Texas for 18 years, suffering the high temperatures and concrete city, because my husband at the time didn’t want to move – even though I needed trees, and rain, and wanted to live in Oregon near my sister. I was still doing work that didn’t excite me because it paid the bills – even though my kids were grown and gone.
Therefore, I made a list of what I wanted to create for my life, and systematically. 1) Own my own business 2) Write for a living 3) Be a minimalist & debt free and 4) Create all kinds of art. I’m doing 1,2 and 4, and well on my way to 3. Although, I can’t seem to figure out how to reduce the art I’ve collected – and, I’m not worry about that.
Declaration 3 – We Shall Defeat Our Demons
I witnessed in myself a constant fear of all things. Fear of risk, fear of people, fear of saying the wrong thing, fear of making a mistake, fear of make the wrong decision, fear of missing out, fear of not being enough, fear of getting old, fear of dying, fear of disappointing, fear of…Well, you get the point. It paralyzed me. It distorted my thinking and encouraged me to dishonor my truth.
Therefore, “Be gone fear!”, I declared. Bad things were going to happen, no matter what I did. I couldn’t be perfect all the time. Why would anyone want to be perfect all the time, anyway? That is boring. So, I went to the extreme for a while and did whatever I felt like doing and ignored the uproar and the crabs in the pot trying to pull me back into the boiling water. I was so excited about giving up fear that I started interviewing and filming thought and spiritual leaders about how to face our fear. Now, I have 50 videos I don’t really know what to do with, but I made them public to share with the world.
Declaration 4 – We Shall Advance with Abandon
I discovered that facing my fears opens the door to a whole new world, and that life is like Bilbo Baggins and The Hobbit. You have to trust the journey and throw caution to the wind, at least sometimes. We don’t always have the skills to complete the journey. But, we will learn the skills along the way, one way or another.
Therefore, when the opportunity to direct and produce a screenplay I had written years ago arose, I put my documentary aside for a while, trusting I would return to it, and descended into the abyss of the unknown. I didn’t know how to direct a cast and crew. But, I trusted my sharpened instincts and committed my entire bank account to the project. Eight months later, a 2-hour feature film was born called IN HER BLOOD. Will it make it big? I don’t know, and I don’t care. We made it and WE love it! I can tell you this though. It got accepted into the Astoria International Film Festival. The same town and theater I lived in during Junior High. Even the same theater I cleaned in the middle of the night as an odd job. How is that for advancing with abandon?!?
Declaration 5 – We Shall Practice Joy and Gratitude
I begrudged my life with complaint and ruminated about everything everybody had done wrong to me. I made lists of the injuries, laid on the couch for the counselor, and journaled in stream of conscious fashion about this and that and how “their” actions had harmed me – thinking if I wrote enough, spoke enough, and barricaded myself in the “truth”, one fine day, I would purge it from my system and be free. None of these strategies worked.
Therefore, I began the practice of gratitude. Listing everything I am thankful for. When I see myself want to hold back, I force myself to write it again and again. Slowly but surely, I am seeing joy emerge back into my life. I’m even beginning to react differently to hardship when it arises. Instead of complaining, I ask myself, “What can I learn from this situation?” I repeat to myself over and over again that I have the strength to see it through to the other side. I am grateful for my strength.
Declaration 6 – We Shall Not Break Our Integrity
I broke promises to myself ALL THE TIME. Sometimes, I broke promises to others too because I made commitments to others I didn’t really want to make for fear of negative repercussions. It was so sneaky how I got into situations that I didn’t want to be in because I didn’t honor my boundaries – because I didn’t really have any boundaries.
Therefore, I refuse to do this anymore. I say yes, when I mean yes. I say no, when I mean no. If I don’t know what I think or what to do, I communicate that I need time to think before I give an answer. If lack of integrity sneaks into my actions from some sort of unconscious habit, as soon as I notice, I self-correct. It is as simple as that.
Declaration 7 – We Shall Amplify Love
I denied that true love really existed in the world. For many reasons, and childhood experiences, I was suspicious of everyone’s intentions. I unconsciously believed that all action, all kindness had some hidden agenda. Or, that I didn’t deserve love. In return, I held back my love (with the exception of my kiddos), causing all sorts of mischief and misunderstandings.
Therefore, I choose to never hold back my love and support. I’ll never run out of love. The bank account of love is always replenished. Because as I give, it is returned tenfold. I may not agree with how someone chooses to live their life, but I can support – even if that support comes in the form of detaching and allowing the individual to suffer the consequences of their actions. For those who have truly harmed me, my love and support manifests as steering clear of you and continuing to send prayers that you overcome your fundamental darkness and not repeat the harm to another person.
Declaration 8 – We Shall Inspire Greatness
I refused to believe I was capable of greatness. Who was I to even think of the possibility of being wonderful, fantastic, and awesome? Somehow, some way, I was taught that to think of greatness was arrogant and, frankly, unrealistic. I clearly remember hearing, “Good luck with that” whenever I vocalized an idea. I clearly remember being informed how I could improve when, as a child, I proudly showed off an accomplishment.
Therefore, I now only aspire to greatness. This means trying my very best at everything I do and being proud of the results. Sometimes, the results are fantastic and awesome. Sometimes, not so much. But, I can still be proud of my effort and seeing whatever it is I started to completion. To me, this is the only way to do anything. The results of this approach have astounded me.
Declaration 9 – We Shall Slow Time
I noticed I was always in a hurry to get it all done at once, not understanding the importance of the journey. Hurry. Rush. Hurry. I never truly enjoyed what I was doing, or smelling the flowers along the roadside. I even expected others to go at the same pace, proud I was the hare and not the turtle. But, the turtle won the race, didn’t she?
Therefore, I give myself permission to take the time I need, for whatever reasons I give myself. I don’t ignore a necessary deadline. But, I also don’t give myself unreasonable deadlines, expecting myself to be Super Woman and a bag of chips. I slow down, look around, and give myself the opportunity to see alternatives and options. (Truth be told, this is the hardest declaration for me to keep. Old habits die hard.)
These are my interpretations and application of Brendon Burchard’s 9 Declarations for fully living MY life and realizing MY dreams. Not somebody else’s life or dreams. MINE. I want the same for you.
(Interested in this book, or Brendon Burchard’s work? Check out https://brendon.com/books/.