I want to let you in on a little secret: When it comes to maintaining balance in my life (whether dealing with my career, my relationships, or —as of recently — raising a child), I love mantras. I love coming up with one because it requires me to take stock and focus on what I really need. I love that my mantras are tailored to me and my inclinations. And most of all, I love that something so simple can have such a profound effect. Those of you who have coached with me probably already know this because I have likely encouraged you to come up with your own mantras; for those of you who are unfamiliar with them, it's my great pleasure to introduce you.
The original definition of the word "mantra" referred to a practice in Buddhism and Hinduism of repeating the same word or sound in order to aid concentration or meditation. It was about getting clear via simple repetition. The word eventually morphed into what many of us know it as today: a frequently repeated symbolic phrase or statement. Anyone who practices meditation may be familiar with the original definition, which is still in use today. I'm talking about the latter definition — a personally crafted phrase that holds significant symbolic meaning for its user. Throughout the years, I've incorporated mantras into my coaching, and I've seen them have a major impact on my clients — people are often surprised by how effective they can be. In fact, to show you just how much I believe that they can work, we're going to have a Mantra Challenge and one person is going to win a career-coaching session via phone. If you've done the Artists In Action program, then this will be familiar to you.
Here's the deal: for the first part, all you have to do is come up with a personal mantra that is specific to you and your needs. That's it. Now, when I say "your needs," I'm specifically talking about self-care and inner balance. Mantras can be used in any area of your life, but I want to focus on this arena. Of course, that arena can be quite large. As I mentioned above, there are a lot of things that can affect your inner balance — your career, your relationships, your physical/mental/emotional health. The important thing here is to think about an area of your life that's affecting your inner balance, and target it with a mantra.
Identifying the right mantra can be incredibly powerful when it comes to changing our thought patterns and re-focusing our attention on how we want to feel. If you’re someone who loves a good mantra, then this may come easy to you. If you’re someone who has resistance to this sort of thing, I’m going to encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone and give this a try.
Keep in mind that when creating a mantra, it has to come from you and it has to resonate deeply. Your mantra can be anything you want it to be; the only requirement is that it captures the essence of what you need to hear most when it comes to your self-care. When you land on the right mantra, you’ll know, because it just fits you like a glove.
I’ll share one of my favorites that my coach passed on to me and I have since passed on to many of my clients: "I choose to trust that slowing down is the fastest way to grow my business."
It sounds so simple, but integrating this mantra into my life has made the most amazing difference in how I work and live. It's kept me grounded and forced me to put the brakes on when I might have otherwise just sped up and burned out. It targets something that I can have trouble with (wanting to go-go-go at all costs), and helps me see the upside of not engaging in it. When it comes to creating your personal mantra, keep it very personal. Only you know if it speaks to you, so don’t half-ass it.
Here's another example. If you feel like there's never enough time in one day to get things done, and you find yourself getting anxious about it, maybe your mantra could be: “I choose to trust that there is enough time to do everything I need.”
It can start with something like “I choose to trust,” but it doesn’t have to. Here are a few mantras from some past clients: “When I take time for me, I feel better,” and “My imperfection is the fuel that fires my creativity.”
Now, for the second part: Once you’ve come up with your mantra, get a blank journal and write out the mantra thirty times a day for the next thirty days.
Yep, you heard me right — thirty times a day for thirty days straight. But don't worry, you can do this however you want. If you prefer to type it out on your computer or even your smartphone or iPad, go for it. You can knock out all thirty first thing in the morning, or you can do it throughout the day — maybe half on your lunch break and the other half before you go to bed. I don’t care when or how you do this challenge, just that you do it every day. And if for some reason you skip a day, no problem. Just make sure you double up the next day so you can stay on track.
This challenge will only work if you love your mantra, so make sure it’s the right one. I’ve given this challenge out to a handful of clients over the years, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. I’ve seen the mantra challenge quiet my clients’ inner critics and give them a newfound sense of confidence. And oftentimes, they’ve continued practicing their mantras beyond the thirty-day challenge.
If you're interested in joining the challenge, you will need to register here. This will let us know who's involved, and it will hopefully give you a little extra accountability along the way. Once you've done the challenge, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your mantra and an account of how your mantra affected you throughout the 30 days. The challenge will end at 5pm (EDT) on Wednesday, May 22nd, so you have a few extra days to come up with your mantra before you get started. We'll pick a winner at random from all of the qualified entries, and that person will receive a free 45-minute phone-coaching session.
Once you have your mantra, we'd love for you to come back here and share it in the comments section, just to give other people some encouragement and ideas if they need them. So, good luck with the challenge, and have fun with your mantras!