What the heck is a personal mantra?
To the dictionary, it’s “a statement or slogan repeated frequently.” To me, it’s a simple, memorable phrase that can help guide your thoughts and actions.
I’ve always been a big proponent of setting personal goals and tracking progress toward them. I've found that choosing a personal mantra is crucial to keeping myself focused on those goals and on the path towards success. It also helps me be less reactive and more thoughtful in my approach to challenges and interactions with others.
I have several personal mantras that I try to live by, but one of my favorites is simply the word Good. This mantra is one of the principles taught by Jocko Willink, a former Navy SEALs commander.
The idea behind the word Good is that bad things are guaranteed to happen. In fact, it's only a matter of time before they do. And when something bad happens, you can generally respond in two ways:
Choice A: You can get angry, emotional, frustrated and blame yourself or others for whatever outcome didn't go as you expected.
Choice B: You can face whatever went wrong and simply say the word Good.
At this point, you’re probably thinking “If something bad just happened, why would you say Good?” Well, in most (if not all) situations, when something bad happens, another opportunity is created, another door is opened.
It may not be abundantly clear what this new opportunity is at first, but if you take a step back, assess the situation, and say “Good,” you immediately set your mind on course to find the positive aspects of that situation. Once you've identified the new opportunity, you can create a plan to overcome this unexpected obstacle and complete the objective you set out to do in the first place. It’s a simple word that can be very effective in asserting control over your thoughts and actions.
Your mantra acts as a filter that nearly everything in life can be put through. Every day we’re bombarded by new stimuli: Do this task, Think that thought, Feel this way, Buy that thing.
Without a filter in place, how do you decide what gets your attention and what doesn’t? How do you determine your response to a difficult situation? How do you know what’s right or wrong? Your mantra (or set of mantras) will be there to guide you through all these decisions and prevent you from acting or responding in a negative way.
That’s the power of a personal mantra. So how will you create your filter for the rest of this year and perhaps the next? What phrase or theme will help you define your priorities and approach challenges? It could be a classic, well-known saying (“Under Promise, Over Deliver,” is one that has served me well) or a phrase that you devise for yourself.
Regardless, find the mantra that speaks to your values. Try it on for a week or two and see what happens.