Over the last year, I’ve wondered a lot about how my purpose connects with my work. One of my guiding phrases is from Jennifer Lee, director of Frozen, who has said: “Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.” I love that. It’s an admirable goal.
As much as I appreciate the message, though, there’s a giant caveat. People tend to hear that statement and believe that they can immediately put aside what doesn’t serve their goals and focus solely on making their dreams happen. The un-sexy part of following your dreams, though, means that you may need to keep that less-fulfilling work in order to fund what does make you feel fulfilled.
I say this because I’m a pragmatist at the core and have learned this myself. You’re going to have work you don’t necessarily enjoy. It pays the bills and will help you reach what you do want as your career, especially in your mid-20s.
I don’t believe in ignoring work that you aren’t passionate about. Everything can teach you a lesson, and even the idea you’re most passionate about will have elements you don’t enjoy. It doesn’t make you a bad creative to take on a project that doesn’t give you immense fulfillment. Not everything will.
It means that you’re taking the long view of your career while realizing that every project, exciting or not, can help you reach what sets your soul on fire. You may realize that the work you previously thought was tedious is actually now your favorite. It’s all a part of finding the work that you were created to do.
This is why writing our manifesto will help us in our creative careers. It connects our work with our purpose and will guide us through the projects we love, the ones we’re over, and the work that brings us the most fulfillment.
How to write your manifesto
Building your purpose statement is formulaic; it gives you structure while helping you make it your own. Start with:
“I exist to [goal] through [work].”
A photographer’s manifesto could read:
“I exist to [highlight people’s individuality] through [creating beautiful images.]”
My own manifesto, following this format, is:
“I exist to empower creatives to thrive through my writing and by sharing about common experiences.”
Now it’s your turn. Lay out a few ideas, walk away for a day or two, then come back and see if you still feel the same way. Once finished, put it everywhere. Near your desk, on your phone’s lock screen, or on a sign by the door you see every day before you leave for work. It’s the reminder we need to keep going, especially when the tasks are what we enjoy.
Your manifesto will evolve
One of the beautiful parts about being human is that we evolve over time. Which means that your 2019 manifesto may not match your 2020 self. This is why I always recommend revisiting it every year. Review your manifesto with these questions:
- What are my goals, and how are they different from last year’s?
- How has my purpose evolved?
- Do I still enjoy the same projects?
- Can I incorporate those enjoyable projects more?
Once you work through these questions, you can begin to realign your manifesto with your purpose and your work.
Your creative career will go through many phases as you work to discover your purpose. Once you find it, whatever iteration it is, hold tight to it and make it your manifesto. It will serve you well as you make decisions, achieve, fail, and achieve some more. A manifesto can be anything you unearth as your purpose. What will yours be?