Our founding fathers wrote a declaration of independence from the tyranny of a king’s rule. The reason was a list of grievances foisted upon them by a ruler who remained remote and aloof to their situation.
In doing so, they incurred a risk. The risk was very real.. their belongings, their freedom, their life. And the declaration placed an emphasis on personal rights but also personal responsibility.
I thought about this as I pondered writing a personal declaration of independence.. actually, re-writing. I wrote one, or the start of one, last year. I wanted to clarify some thoughts on the subject and hope you find it valuable.
Plus, should you find it interesting or inspiring, something you want to do, I give you permission
hint: you don’t need my, or anyone else’s, permission
Barriers to our personal declaration
What holds us hostage? What is our source of tyranny?
I’ll say first that, for us in the US, it is NOT our government. Our source of tyranny is what lives in our head and what we allow others to put there.
Lack of Vision
Whether because you haven’t pondered it enough or experienced enough, lack of vision; a lack of understanding what drives you; not having some great overriding idea of where you want to end up, makes creating your own declaration of independence difficult.
I have been fortunate in that I knew, very early on, and with some precision, what I wanted to do. I wanted to write. As I came to discover, lack of vision is not the only barrier.
Dismissive self-talk & the defeating voice of others
We tend to take/accept input from those closest to us or easiest for us to access rather than those who are where we hope to be. Mostly because, we have access to them and finding the right people to listen to and tuning out the wrong people takes intention and in many cases, means finding new relationships.
Statements like, “Who do you think you are?” or “What makes you special?” Those are all statements we either tell ourselves or let others tell us.
Ways you can correct the course
Here are some steps to help you get to a point where you can better define and then create a declaration of independence.
Create a vision
I talk about an exercise I’ve gone through a few times. I didn’t hear this from someone although other people have talked about it. For me, I was pondering what I enjoy doing and the things I love in life. I thought to myself, “What does an ideal working day look like?”
Write your ideal working day. This means, from the time you get up, coffee, shower, shave, reflection time, family, the work you do, any breaks in the day, and how your day winds down and ends.
Make it realistic but not safe. Your ideal working day cannot be, “I win the lottery and sit on the beach.” Granted, that might happen but I wouldn’t bank on it. And besides, I think you would want more out of yourself for lasting happiness.
Find a mentor
I was reading The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau today. You should pick it up if you can and read it. At one point he indicates that you do NOT need a mentor. I don’t disagree.. He’s right, you don’t. But, someone who pushes you, who has accomplished things you are inspired by, someone who is not safe because you know they will expect great things from you. Someone who is brutally honest and encouraging, can prove to be very valuable.
Define the voices that matter
You cannot convince the un-convinceable. Or.. you cannot turn an onion into an apple.
We spend a lot of time answering the critic. We want to win them over. And when we don’t we often become derailed in our own efforts.
But why do those voices matter more than the people who cheer us on. The truth is, as you pursue your dreams- as you act on your declaration of independence, you will hear many voices coming at you with “advice” to be more practical. They will question your ability, your motives, your worthiness.
You need to learn to become blind to the critic. I’m not talking about turning down helpful input from a trusted and safe source.. typically, that is not your drinking buddy. You need to remove their voice.
A simple declaration of independence
While not perfect, today I jotted this down.
I hold these truths to be self-evident…
I have the right to put my past behind me and unapologetically pursue my future with a positive passion. I have been granted gifts by my creator and it is my right and responsibility to put those gifts to use to create a life that IS as positive impact in my professional life, my personal life, my relationships, my wife and children, and the world I live in.
I reserve the right to ignore the critic, the skeptic, and the agents of pessimism; recognizing their input is only a reflection of their own jealousy, bitterness, and failed vision.
I will actively battle for love over hate, potential over fear, action over indecision, and dreams over despair.
I reserve the right to edit, expand, and adjust this declaration as I see fit.
December 15, 2011