I’ve been doing a lot of work on personal development over the last few years, the obvious being my masters’ degree but along side that I’ve really started to journal. Don’t worry, I’m not going to start coughing up mindless ramblings here, but it has raised a few things that I wanted to work on.
For me, and there are different types, a personal mantra is something that you revert to daily, that drives you and that brings clarity and focus when things start to go astray. A Sensei many years ago used to always go with “fail to prepare, prepare to fail”. Over the course of the last 2 years, I’ve made no secret of the challenges that things like lockdowns brought, or the number of times I thought about quitting my masters’ and the days when I was just “not feeling it”.
So somewhere along the line, I decided that I needed my own mantra. It actually came as part of a book that I am reading about the power of writing. The first thing they ask you to do… introduce yourself. We do this all the time right? I faced a blank page and started with the usual, Ciara, Ireland, and then… nothing. I kept going back to this page time and time again and then one night, a breakthrough, I wrote about things I wanted to achieve, things I was unhappy with and things that I was planning to do. Finally, some clarity.
Feeling that I now had all this confidence in my ability to put words on paper, I moved to the next challenge. Describe some of the best moments in your life. There was space for 5. Followed by the things that you are most proud of. Well this year it would have to be the masters’ and so I started to write about that struggle and how I managed to get through it. I was not sure how I managed to push myself through and that lead to the need to define my mantra.
I guess this might read a bit all over the place. This last week I’ve had time to think more about my own mantra and what words I can use to drive myself, the downtime being a chance to refocus and try and plan for being better again. Being ill allows you to drift in an out of sleep, consciousness and times of literal blackout. The record for this period of illness… 19 hours straight sleeping. I put a load of words on a mind map and finally some words started to jump out to me. Alongside I looked at some mantras that others lived by…and what had been written as guidelines…here’s what most of them said…
Start with “I” or “My” – your mantra is yours so best to start with your ownership thereof. This also helps the person to focus on themselves and to make the mantra relevant. (that’s what the articles said anyway)
Make it short – you’ll get the most out of a mantra if you can easily remember it and easily repeat it again and again in your mind or out loud.
Make your mantra specific – ease of repeatability is important and it should be something that ties into your life and intentions.
Make your mantra positive – probably the best advice I saw!
One that I particularly like is from one of the Peloton Instructors, Christine D’ercole. Hers, very simply, “I am, I can, I will, I do”. which she repeats a lot during classes. I like it, but it was not mine. For me this one is a wee bit long, with four elements, for me, it needs to have enough words to be meaningful but not enough that you need more than one breath to finish it…
For me also, this needs to not be something that is only used in training. I needed something that took me from a place of challenge to a place where I was starting to feel that I had the strength to move a situation forwards, no matter the subject area. Then there is the longevity aspect. For me my mantra needed to be something that would allow longer periods of challenge to be navigated. I remain proud of the fact that I managed to get all the ways through the masters’ (albeit with loads of help) especially as at one point, everyday seemed to erode the actual time I had to get through it.
Finally after many iterations, I found these words amongst my mind map… they more or less jumped out at me.
My focus, my energy, my outcomes.
Getting to this point took a lot of time but I’m going to work this one for a while and see how it plays out. Stay tuned for updates 🙂