Don’t know what to do with your life? This exercise can make things clear


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Photo: Stocksy / Jamie Grill-Atlas

Stepping up your game each year means ushering in a better, bolder, and more graceful you. The exercise of documenting your plans and purpose—what matters most—can bring clarity and intentionality to your day-to-day. What better way to start a new year than with a personal manifesto? Here, Well+Good Council member Candice Kumai shares how she created her own… and how you can do the same.

When I was in my twenties and toughing it out as a writer in Brooklyn—even when I was judging on Iron Chef—I was struggling.

One Christmas, my sister gave me an artist-designed poster, a “manifesto.” After framing it, I put it on the wall of my broke-ass-artist room. As my career grew and my apartments gradually became nicer, I took the poster with me. It went from an East Williamsburg apartment share to a Wall Street studio (where I could barely afford rent) to a waterfront two-bedroom overlooking the NYC skyline. No matter where I went, the manifesto poster always went on the wall to steer, motivate, and inspire me.

I’ve learned that a manifesto is infinitely valuable. It can help to solidify and clarify your life’s big calling. It puts all your pondering thoughts and anxious days into one safe place, bringing you back to earth and reminding your heart what really matters. Manifestos can serve as a sense of purpose or your true north. We are all in need of some good inspiration and focus, and a personal manifesto provides the place to do so.

Manifestos can serve as a sense of purpose or your true north.

With this in mind, I created my own Wabi Sabi manifesto. I included beliefs that inspire and guide me every day: Simplify, be kind, be honest, travel more, love deeply, be free with no judgment on others. Know and live with the notion that you are right where you are supposed to be. Life is and will always be perfectly imperfect. I’ve turned my manifesto into a poster that I hope will inspire others.

You can create your own manifesto, too. It’s a brilliant way to kick off January, and you can add on to it all throughout the year, cumulatively strengthening it over time.

Below are five simple steps toward making your own manifesto.

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Photo: Courtesy of Candice Kumai

1. Just start

Grab a notebook, find some scrap paper, or start an email draft. However you want to write, just start. Write about what inspires you: tomes that keep you going and life lessons. Write on your morals and values and those little things you’ll never back down on. Write down what makes you feel good, short advice you’d give to a friend, lessons you have learned. You’ll both feel and see who you are as a person and what really matters to you.

2. Be honest

Allow this writing to be the deepest form of self-expression. This is the place to practice honesty. Be real with yourself; be real with your intent.

3. Think of others

When we take time to put our hearts on paper, we take time to connect back to our deepest calling in life: service. Service is our purpose. Make your manifesto about service to others; this will lead you to your life’s greater calling.

4. Get creative

If you like, you can choose to draft an artistic version of this, designing it into a poster. You can do it on the computer or with watercolor, colored pencils, calligraphy, or even stencils. Get as creative as you’d like. Make your manifesto something you love to look at.

5. Share it (or don’t)

Your manifesto can be shared with others or kept personal. There are no hard and fast rules to this, so have fun, get creative, and fly. Growth is an imperative part of life, and this puts more good intent into your life. And remember, keep shining—because no one can dim the light of those who are destined for greatness.

Candice Kumai, an internationally renowned wellness writer and chef, is a five-time, best-selling author. A Top Chef alumna and Food Network guest, she’s appeared as a judge on Iron Chef America and Beat Bobby FlayCandice is a former model, a lover of vegan cake baking, a matcha fan, and a total sneakerhead. In her downtime, she enjoys avocados, her cat Sis, and barre. Her new book, Kintsugi Wellness, is out now.

What should Candice write about next? Send your questions and suggestions to experts@wellandgood.com.

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