I have a ‘100-word philosophy’ statement that I read every day. It’s a collection of short phrases that remind me what is important and keeps me focussed when I get caught up in day-to-day trivialities. I suppose it’s a kind of personal mission statement, but that sounds a bit too slick and corporate. Even philosophy sounds a bit grand. It’s really just a list of reminders and self-instructions that I’ve refined over the years that together sum up my core values.
It started life as a list of ‘notes to self’, quotes I found inspirational, words of advice from folk, ‘real’ philosophy, interesting song lyrics, snatches of overheard conversations - anything the piqued my interest. Eventually, it sprawled over several pages - too long to be of much use.
There were common themes, and many of the phrases were saying the same things in different ways, so I challenged myself to distil it all down to a digestible 100 words.
My collection of productivity notes were summarised as "Don’t delay the benefits of acting now” and “What is the most valuable action to take at this moment?” Creativity notes condensed to "Create and share more than consume.” Gratitude simply “Be grateful, always”.
Others include "Time is limited. Opportunities and knowledge aren’t”, “I'm a product of my thoughts and actions, both within my control”, "Spend time with family and friends. It’s finite” and “I’m not as clever as I think I am”. The phrase in bold at the top is “Clarity of thought"
The key was the 100-word limit. Now when I want to add anything to the list I have to prioritise or refine something else. This means the wording is tight, the ideas are focussed and reading through it takes seconds (I have it pinned to my wall and on saved on my phone).
I thoroughly recommend writing yourself a 100-word philosophy and read it regularly. You can start by noting things that are important to you, favourite quotes, personal goals - anything that inspires you and helps keep you focussed. There are no rules, apart from you can’t go over 100 words. The real challenge is when you hit the limit (100 is less than you expect). You have to think hard about what’s most important and condense your thoughts.
Then spend a little time on a word processor snazzing up the formatting, print it off and, hey presto, check you - you’re a philosopher!
Published in Shetland Life magazine in August 2019