A very good friend introduced me to The Holstee Manifesto a short while ago. It was as if the author had read my mind – and as if this piece of text came into my life at the right moment.
The Holstee Manifesto was written by two brothers and a friend who started the company Holstee, designing products from recycled material. During the first months as a start-up, they wrote up what was going to be the Holstee Manifesto. It was a reminder of what they wanted from life, as it felt to them right there at that crossroads moment in their life. Against all expectations, its poster print became one of their top selling products.
It was my birthday last week. Another year gone by, time to reflect on the last 12 months and look forward to the next. The Holstee Manifesto is now my new screensaver and a constant reminder of how I want to live my life. Below are some of my attempts.
If you don’t like something, change it
Oh yes this one is obvious. I went from high heels to flip flops, from seeing risks to seeing opportunities. I didn’t like my career path or the person I would probably have become without the changes I made so far. I was happy to realize that my life changed a lot since my last birthday, for the better. There have been goodbyes, there have been tears and desperate moments. But overall the changes were good because they allowed me to be grateful, grow as a person, deepen certain friendships, meet like-minded souls and travel more. It helps that I now live (again) at a place where many people spend their holidays: buzzing Pacific Beach in San Diego.
If you don’t like your job, quit
I quit my well-paid, secure corporate job. Not because I did not like my job but because I did not love what I was doing. It was a scary decision. Amongst my friends the general perception is “If not big corporate, then what….?”. It is easy to choose big names because they are everywhere around us. But it is not necessarily the best place for everyone to flourish.
I spent months figuring out which other options the “What” might entail for me. My conclusion is that there is a huge and highly interesting spectrum. But I need some more months to figure out at which end of the spectrum I am used best.
If you don’t have enough time, stop watching TV
We gave away our TV when we moved out of Switzerland and are not planning to get a new one any time soon. I watch internet TV and deliberately choose which programs interest me. Having no TV makes the living room a lot more social and spacy. Actually we gave away lots of our things and are trying to live a minimalistic life. All that stuff just felt like a burden. In Europe, it struck me that it was so hard to get rid of 4 boxes of books – whereas buying 4 boxes of new books could be acquired without even leaving the house. How weird is that?
When you eat, appreciate every last bite
This one was sparked by watching documentaries like Food Inc. and DIVE! Our food consumption has such an enormous impact on the planet. Experiencing the often awfully low quality of food upon arrival in the US, as compared to Swiss standards what I was used to, I started buying only organic food – at least until I get the chance to grow my own organic veggies. I also hardly eat any meat anymore, which is a 180 degrees change from the person I was 10 years ago when I worked at a Steak House and had filet americain for breakfast. However I still am the foodlover I have always been, still enjoying Pata Negra or Sate Kambing. Just in smaller quantities. And I never ever throw away food.
Ask the next person you see what their passion is
As part of my work for Kiva I get to meet a ton of small entrepreneurs. My favorite question is to ask what their passion or dream is, and see their eyes brighten up. At least that is my experience here in Nicaragua with microfinance clients. I also asked the question to myself and to family and friends. Many are not able to give an answer – pretty scary. I also didn’t know the exact answer and I am still working on it, but made lots of progress in the last few months. It’s part of a beautiful process of getting to know yourself.
I visited 4 continents during the 7 months since my last day at work. Travel does not need to be expensive when you visit countries where your dollar goes much further than at home. I spent some time in a Buddhist monastery in China for free, including 3 delicious vegetarian meals a day. They would only accept donations. Also here in Nicaragua the most beautiful hostels and fincas offer free accomodation and meals to volunteers.
Travel obviously is one of my big passions. Any spending I make is recalculated in my head in terms of travel, as in “The costs of these boots could get me to Temecula for a wine weekend” or “The price difference between a MacBook and a PC is half of my ticket to Europe for Christmas”.
Life is about the people you meet
The most important people you “meet” in life are your direct family members. I wrote personal letters to both my parents and brother. The spiritual setting on the Buddhist island Putuoshan in China made an excellent scenery to do so.
Living in many different places gave me the opportunity to meet such a variety of awesome people that I can consider friends. I also made some beautiful new friendships, in China, in San Diego, within my Kiva Fellows class, in Nicaragua. And I learned to be more open and talk to strangers, which led to some wonderful conversations. As Will Rogers wisely said: A stranger is just a friend I haven’t met yet.
LIFE IS SHORT. LIVE YOUR DREAM AND WEAR YOUR PASSION
PS. Curious to read how others embrace the Holstee Manifesto into their lives? Read some REALLY inspiring stories on My Life Holstee.