We don't think about it often but declarations form our futures. Declarations are the way we shape our story.
Declarations are statements of commitment that create the future.
"I love you."
"I'm committed to this."
“I won’t tolerate that.”
Declarations of Independence. Declarations of love. Declarations of change. But we forget we have the power to declare. We can make a statement and change what we see ahead for ourselves. This is a time for declaring our future.
We live in worlds that seem driven by the demands of our partners, families, workplace, even government and environment.
We get caught up in calendars, events, responsibilities and the ongoing activity of life. Suddenly life seems to be living you and you’re rushing to keep up. We can feel anxious, out of control, or overwhelmed especially as the world keeps moving along.
This is when a declaration can be powerful. You have the ability to make a declaration around your priorities and establish a new north star for yourself.
A declaration is a stake in the ground. It’s a reference point about what you declare is most important to you. Declarations act as a scaffolding to build upon. Once you’ve declared something, you can drive decisions, plans and the tactics to support those declarations.
My kids finished the school year recently. In our area, traditional childcare like camps are closed or greatly reduced. My husband and I both work at home so we thought we could figure something out on the fly and enjoy the extra time with the kids.
However, we soon realized that was not working. Our daily reinvention wasted a lot of precious time without satisfactory results. We were all getting frustrated trying to manage each emergency as it came up.
We needed to make some declarations. Our declarations looked like this:
1 / We want to spend time with our kids even at the cost of being less effective at work (for now) - our kids are in grade school and it won’t be long before friends and other interests bump us into a low priority. So spending time with them this summer was important (and necessary).
2 / We want to work 4 days a week. Obviously, working is important for sustaining our family. But we needed to limit our work hours and we felt this was something we could manage.
3 / We want to go to the beach for a few days. This was the one vacation request from my kids.
Starting with these three declarations about this summer, we were able to quickly act to fulfill this plan. We paired up with another family to do a childcare exchange. We got a trip to the beach on the calendar and found a great deal. My husband and I divided up “work time” and “family time” so I can book clients and focus on my projects within those bounds.
By declaring what we wanted, it took us a fraction of the time to make decisions about what needed to happen instead of going into the “drift” of patching together a daily plan or just being driven by the urgency each day brings.
Declarations stop drift by actively stating what you want, what you will do or what you determine for yourself. You may work in a scenario that doesn’t have as much flexibility, but you always have the possibility to make declarations that reflect what’s most important to you. We usually underestimate our power to make declarations.
Here are more examples of some declarations:
- It’s my priority to build trust with my team by practicing listening and reflecting back what I hear.
- We speak up when we hear racist comments or conversation.
- We buy from small businesses whenever possible.
- We don’t use plastic.
- We are committed to [planting 100 trees, or your action of choice] this year through my donations and actions.
- I take off one Friday per month for my own mental health.
- I don’t check my social media accounts before 9:00 AM.
- I read one book a month about racism, inequity and injustice.
Declarations can reflect your values. The difference between a declaration and a goal is commitment and control. A goal points to what you hope to achieve. Goals are important but I think they are overused and often aspirational but without including something we actually care about. We may say we want to “exercise more” but unless we have a reason it truly matters to us, it’s unlikely to happen. A declaration states what future you are committed to creating. These aren’t wishes but pragmatic statements based on your values.
Consider what you can declare for yourself, for your career, for your family or your future. Our world needs more declarations driven by care.