What a Personal Manifesto Will Do for You

What a Personal Manifesto Will Do for You

by Cheri Gregory

I should be more like him.

As I sit through the memorial service for a truly amazing man—a beloved teacher and pastor to so many—this one thought plays over and over in my head.

I should be more like him.

Whenever Jon preached about God’s grace, he’d break down in tears, so great was his gratitude toward his Savior. His death opens a Grand Canyon-sized hole in our school and church community that none of us can even begin to fill.

I should be more like him.

But I don’t know how.

The “Should Be’s” Overtook Me

During conversation after the memorial service, Tim Z, our AP History teacher, asks me how my AP English students are doing.

“Do you think you’ll ever go back to teaching sophomore English?” he asks.

“No,” I reply. “I don’t have the patience for students who refuse to read. If they hate books, I don’t want to deal with them.”

Tim’s eyes light up. “Oh, I just love the kids who come into my class hating history!”

I stare, partly in admiration and partly in shame.

I should be more like him.

Tim talks animatedly. “I see every history-hating student as a future history major. I make it my personal challenge to figure out what it takes to help them change their minds.”

I nod dumbly.

I should be more like him.

But I don’t know how.

Accepting That I’m Exactly Who I’m Supposed to Be

I linger in the church after the memorial service, pondering the legacy of Jon Speyer and mulling over my conversation with Tim Z.

I should be more like them.

But how?

Train myself to cry when I talk about God? Force myself to enjoy aliterate students?


Trying to be someone I’m not isn’t the answer.

What if …

A new thought begins to sprout, like a seed pushing up through the soil.

What if I quit trying to be more like him or them? 

What if I start trying to be … (dare I say it) … more like me?

Nothing more or less than exactly who God created me to be.

I Stopped Worrying and Started Listening

It’s been four years since this epiphany.

Since I started regularly asking, “Who did God create me to be?” and really listening for the answer.

The tool that’s helped me keep the answer front-and-center as I make decisions throughout my work day is my Personal Manifesto.

One page of Spirit-led words that declares, “This is who I am and who I aspire, through God’s grace and power, to become.”

personal manifesto

Two Things Your Personal Manifesto Will Do for You

Your Personal Manifesto says, “This is it!”

Which can be interpreted two different ways:

1 — Through your Personal Manifesto, you declare who you are.

Your Personal Manifesto is not an itemized list of who a parent or teacher or spouse or child or boss—not even a beloved role model—expects you to be.

Your Personal Manifesto is a pray-cessed expression of who God has created you to be.

2 — Through your Personal Manifesto, you define who you are not.

It helps you define who God did not create you to be, for yourself and others. This can be downright terrifying for those of us who are used to being “all things to all people.”

It’s your God-guided assertion that you’re done trying to be someone you’re not. (No matter how much others may want you to keep trying.)


There’s nothing wrong with having a role model or seeking out mentors. But our goal should never be trying to be more like him or her or them.

Your goal is to always listen to Him.

Who does He say you are?


Instead of making New Year’s resolutions (that will only last for a week), how about creating a Personal Manifesto that will carry you through the rest of your life? Sign up for great ideas and resources about how to get out from Overwhelmed and you will receive “How to Write Your Personal Manifesto” as our gift to you. Get off the overwhelming cycle of making and breaking resolutions and create a gentle plan for lasting life change.

And learn more about living out a life out of overwhelmed in our new book, Overwhelmed, How to Quiet the Chaos and Restore Your Sanity.

personal manifestoCheri Gregory is a teacher, speaker, author, and Certified Personality Trainer. Her passion is helping women break free from destructive expectations. She writes and speaks from the conviction that “how to” works best in partnership with “heart, too.”

Cheri is the co-author, with Kathi Lipp, of The Cure for the “Perfect” Life and Overwhelmed.

Cheri has been “wife of my youth” to Daniel, her opposite personality, for twenty-eight years and is “Mom” to Annemarie (25) and Jonathon (24), also opposite personalities.

Are you a Highly Sensitive Person?  Take the self-quiz and discover the surprising strengths of a tender heart.


My New Year’s Resolution

My New Year’s Resolution

New Year's resolution

Oh, I am no stranger to the New Year’s Resolution, my friend. I know that I made them as a teenager, but the first clear memory I have of making a list was in 1998, in my fourth-floor walk-up in Uji, Japan, where I was serving as a short-term missionary. I was full of energy, passion, and drive. I sat down, made a list of ten goals, and free of a boyfriend, American TV, and other distractions, I lost weight, had daily Bible study time, cooked at home, and generally crushed it.

And then I got back to my real life, and over the course of less than a month, all those resolutions slowly unraveled. Not only did I break each and every resolution, I was actually worse off than when I started.

For years after that, I would make resolutions, only to find myself in February again, feeling guilty about the resolutions I didn’t keep. I think to myself, “Why is it that everyone else can keep their New Year’s resolutions except me?”

It’s taken me dozens of years to realize, maybe it’s not me. Maybe it’s the resolutions.

Resolutions are All or Nothing

You don’t get credit unless you’ve done the whole thing. You said you wanted to lose twenty pounds, and only lost seven? In resolution-world, that’s a big old failure. You said you would exercise five times a week, and you only are getting to the gym twice a week. Well, why go at all?

When your goals are all or nothing, 99.9% of the time, they will be nothing.

As humans, we need to see our progress and we need encouragement along the way.

When it Comes to Resolutions, Turns Out That SMART Goals for Life Change Aren’t That SMART

We’ve all heard about SMART goals. That our goals should be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Agreed-upon
  • Realistic
  • Time-sensitive

I use SMART goals all the time in my business, and for short term projects. But for lasting life goals? SMART may not be the way to go.

Peter Bregman, writing in the Harvard Business Review Blog Network, argues “When we set goals, we’re taught to make them specific and measurable and time-bound. But it turns out that those characteristics are precisely the reasons goals can backfire. A specific, measurable, time-bound goal drives behavior that’s narrowly focused and often leads to either cheating or myopia. Yes, we often reach the goal, but at what cost?”

So If Resolutions are Not the Answer, What Is?

Bergman says that instead of goals, we should be focused on areas of change. “An area of focus taps into your intrinsic motivation. It offers no stimulus or incentive to cheat or take unnecessary risks, leaves every positive possibility and opportunity open, and encourages collaboration while reducing corrosive competition. All this while moving forward on the things you and your organization value most.”

For over a year, my resolution has been not to make a list of resolutions, but instead, to create a personal manifesto.

A personal manifesto is a statement of your core values and beliefs, what is important to you, and how you plan to live your life. It is written in the present tense, even if not everything you state is one hundred percent true about you today, it is a declaration of what you are working to become.

So instead of a resolution that says, “I will lose twenty pounds this year,” my manifesto states, “I cannot buy good health. I must earn it. Daily.” Instead of short-term goals, I’m looking for lifetime growth.

Personal Manifesto

I sat down and wrote my manifesto in about an hour. (As an author and speaker, I spend a lot of time mulling such things over in my day-to-day life already. So when it came time to put it down on paper, it was pretty easy for me.) But others can get stuck in the creation of such a personal document. That’s why our team has designed this download “How to Write Your Personal Manifesto” as our gift to you.

I can think of dozens of reasons to create your own personal manifesto, but let me give you my top three:

  1. There is no “Breaking” a Personal Manifesto

Yes – there are going to be days when you don’t live up to your own hope of the manifesto. That doesn’t mean that you throw the whole thing out. The personal manifesto has built-in grace. There is a recognition intrinsically within your PM that this is who you are becoming. Slow growth is still growth.

  1. Your Get to Dream (and Pray) Bigger With a Personal Manifesto

Resolutions are all about temporary changes. Lose weight, eat healthy, quit a bad habit. But a Personal Manifesto enables you to not just focus on the behavior, but on the person you are becoming, and who God wants you to be. Plus, you get to include others in your dreams, plans, and prayers.

In resolutions, you only get to set goals for yourself. In my Personal Manifesto, one line says, “I help others be world-changers.” To me, that’s a powerful reason to get out of bed and do life every day.

  1. Your To-Dos are Born Out of Your Personal Manifesto

Don’t think that with the Personal Manifesto you will walk aimlessly through life with no goals. Oh no. your goals, daily to-dos, and even your routines are all born out of your Personal Manifesto. In fact, you will be more focused with a Personal Manifesto than with resolutions, but the focus will not be born out of your self-will, it will spring from your heart.


Are you feeling Overwhelmed?Do you want to leave behind out of my mind and move to in control“? Me too my friends! Introducing my new book, with my co-author Cheri Gregory, Overwhelmed: Quiet the Chaos and Restore Your Sanity.

Do not go another year living under overwhelmed.