There's an old saying that “If you aim for nothing, you'll hit it every time.”
The following exercise will help you define your primary objective for financial independence by creating a personal wealth manifesto. As Stephen Covey is known to say, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” So let's figure out what our main thing is.
Why I Love the Manifesto vs. Mission Statement
A manifesto is a published declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer. A manifesto advances a set of ideas, opinions or views, but it can also lay out a plan of action. And that is exactly our purpose for writing one. In this article, I use the terms “manifesto” and “mission statement” interchangeably. They are, in essence, the same thing.
The Purpose of A Personal Wealth Manifesto
When we were kids, we had big dreams. I wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up. And then an archaeologist, fighter jet pilot, oceanographer, and marine biologist. Those careers all sounded really exciting to me, especially after watching movies like Space Camp, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Top Gun, and those treasure-hunting-shipwreck shows. But what I didn't think about as a kid or teenager is what I wanted to spend my day doing. All of those jobs I listed have some tasks that are exciting, and some that are extremely boring.
Make sure you understand the day-to-day aspects of whatever lifestyle you aspire to. Spend some time talking to or hanging other people who live that life and make sure its what you want. Creating a personal manifesto gives you a long-term vision and motivates you to take the steps to reach financial independence. It focuses your acquisition of knowledge, and helps you to organize your time and your resources so that you can create the future of your dreams.
Treat your future lifestyle goal like a manifesto. A personal manifesto should reflect your values, purpose, goals, and desires. In order to use your manifesto for your personal wealth strategy, you must make it actionable. It needs to be specific, have a designated time-frame and a designated cost to achieve the lifestyle you desire.
A personal mission statement was described by Stephen Covey in his book First Things First as “connecting with your own unique purpose and the profound satisfaction that comes from fulfilling it.”
What do you want to DO when you grow up?
We are taught from a young age to figure out what we want to BE when we grow up, but this concept is misleading. Figure out what you want to spend your days doing, if you could spend them doing anything, is something you need to define in detail.
It may be spear-fishing in the backyard of your Belize beach house, running a solar factory you built from scrap-metal, or writing blog articles from home while you spend quality time with your kids. You can make any of those lifestyles yours, if you decide that's what you want for your daily life.
What + When + How Much = Future Lifestyle Goal
A personal manifesto is, in essence, a goal.
Determining the Cost
To achieve a lifestyle that brings you pleasure and purpose, decide how much you'll need to live on. The cheaper your cost of living, the faster you can quit your day job. Living in an RV or a sailboat doesn't appeal to everyone, but for those who did make that leap, they were able to do it alot sooner than suburbanites who are hanging onto an expensive house and a luxury car.
Its all about priorities. There are hard choices to make. Spend some time thinking about the things in your life that matter most, and then start crunching numbers.
List out the assets you will need post-FF (financial freedom). If you already have a house paid off, then you are in a great position to stay where you are, or flip the house and move on.
Also plan what your annual cost of living will be in your new lifestyle. Do some research and find out what others are paying for a similar lifestyle.
For example, my husband and I plan to buy a 40ft sailing catamaran that costs around $350k. We don't plan to pay cash for the boat. We will finance 80% and make a down payment of 20%. The down payment will cost $70k. We also figured in at least $20k in equipment & refits. Our estimated cost of assets up front is $90k.
Life on a sailboat is much cheaper than life on land. We can live comfortably on around $3,000 per month on the boat, plus the boat payment. I ran an amortization schedule to estimate the boat payments at an estimated $1,850 per month.
That's a total of $4,850 in monthly expenses in our new lifestyle. If we have no income stream when we take off, we can sail for at least a couple of years and still have around $75k left over to help us launch whatever comes next, depending on the resale value of the boat.
With digital income sources and investment dividend income in play, we'll decide how long we sail based on many factors that we don't have to decide on today.
Bottom line – research your future cost of living and have a clear understanding of how you will make it work.
What Are You Willing to Give Up?
As you're writing your personal manifesto, keep in mind the cost of your choices. I'm not just talking about money. There is a cost to making $300,000, $1M, or any large sum of money.
You may have to sacrifice time, pleasures, eating out, relaxation, pride, and more. Make sure whatever you're working for is something you want so badly you are willing to make the sacrifice.
Defining your personal lifestyle goal is the first step towards building your personal wealth strategy.
Additional activities that can help motivate you:
- Tell others about your personal manifesto. This creates accountability.
- Belief in your personal manifesto is important. Tell yourself every day that you will succeed, and believe it!
- If you are struggling on your own, consider hiring a Life Coach to help get you back on track.
The Power of Subconscious
In order to achieve your mission, you must believe that you can. As taught in Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, you can harness the power of your subconscious mind to achieve your dreams. Declare what it is that you want, and if you believe you can get it, you are much more likely to be successful.
Why is this so powerful? It all comes down to psychology and your mindset. If you have the correct mindset, you will act with intentionality and pursue your goals in such a way that you cannot be defeated. Even in the face of multiple failures, if you believe that you will eventually succeed, you will not give up. Mindset is the key to success in many areas of life, and is a key attribute of entrepreneurs and innovators. Have a game-plan to handle failure.
Be Willing To Fail Before You Succeed
According to Mark Coopersmith, author of The Other “F” Word: How Smart Leaders, Teams, and Entrepreneurs Put Failure to Work, failure-savvy leaders should follow these steps:
- Respect the fact that failure happens a lot, especially for those who innovate
- Rehearse for those failures that may create existential threats
- Recognize failures early, including with specialized metrics and systems
- React quickly and take ownership when failures happen to quickly limit damage
- Reflect thoughtfully on what happened and why to extract valuable insights
- Rebound with a decisive plan once the failure is well understood
- Remember those failures with stories, relics, systems and culture to avoid repeats
Coopersmith, Mark. “The Entrepreneurial Mindset.” The Strive Project, magazine.thestriveproject.com/issue/jan-mar-2019/the-entrepreneurial-mindset/.
Why is this important to your personal manifesto? If you aren't afraid of failure, you'll be more willing to go for what you really want. Even if it seems out of reach.
“Set your mind on a definite goal and observe how quickly the world stands aside to let you pass.” – Napoleon Hill
Writing Your Personal Manifesto
A great example of a manifesto is the Futurist Manifesto and I'll refer to certain elements of it in this template. Here are five attributes of manifestos:
- Often structured as a list.
- Meant to challenge and provoke.
- A public declaration of beliefs and intentions.
- Marks the beginning of a path to realization or freedom.
- Contains clear and specific goals.