A creative, meaningful life starts with self-reflection. It starts with sitting down and identifying our philosophies, principles and approach. Because if we aren’t clear on these things, we let others dictate our schedules and maybe even our hearts. We say yes and no randomly, or without much thought, again letting others’ agendas set the tone and rule our lives. We let people, items, activities, ideas inside our lives that aren’t actually essential to us.

Each of us needs a compass. A compass that we create.

A creative, meaningful life starts with making a mission statement or a manifesto (call it whatever you like), ironing out what you’d like to do, how you’d like to be and how you’d like to spend your days.

Below are quotes from the lovely, art-filled book Instant Happy Notes And Other Surprises to Make You Smilewhich might help to spark some ideas for your manifesto.

“Every day is a fresh start.”

“Life might not always be perfect, but if you look hard enough, you will see it is always magical.”

“There can’t be flowers without rain.”

“A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything.” ~ Irish Proverb

“If you stumble, make it part of the dance.”

“Every day is an opportunity to learn something new.”

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut

“Never stop exploring.”

“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” ~ Marthe Troly-Curtin

“Everything is better if it happens in a blanket fort.”

I also love the manifesto that Amanda Blake Soule shares in her beautiful book The Creative Family Manifesto: Encouraging Imagination and Nurturing Family ConnectionsIt includes these words: Believe in the impossible. Unplug. Hold each other close. Tell stories. Make art. Make mistakes. Make music. Be silly. Encourage curiosity. Go outside every day. Play, play, play. Love fiercely.

Create your manifesto in your journal, or write it on a big piece of paper, which you put up in the kitchen. Or jot it down on sticky notes, which you post all over your home (and slip a few inside your bag).

If you have a partner and kids, sit together, and create a family manifesto—which seems like the perfect way to connect during the holiday season, and the new year. First you and your partner might explore these questions separately: What’s vital and essential to me? What nourishes me? What kind of person, partner, parent, friend would I like to be? What memories do I want to make? What do I want to learn? What do I want to create?

Then you might hold a fun family meeting (with your favorite meal on hand), and consider: What is essential to us? What brings us joy? What does each person love? What reconnects us to each other? What will help us grow? What ignites our imaginations? What moments do we want to savor?

Read your manifesto regularly. Let these words remind you of what’s crucial, significant, non-negotiable—especially since so many sparkly, meaningless things vie for our attention, and can easily grab it if we aren’t clear on our values and priorities. Remember that you are in charge. You are the artist of your life. What would you like to do with your canvas?

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash.