3 Steps to Create Mantras That Keep You Out of the Mire and Moving Forward

by | Leading | 8 comments

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”  — Philippians 4:8

file0002047565344.jpgYou want to stay focused on that “excellent or praiseworthy” thing you know you should be doing or thinking about, but your mind would rather flit to anything but.

Do you have a mantra? I’m talking about mantra in the sense of an instrument of focus, a set of words spoken frequently to get you to focus on your “excellent or praiseworthy” task or thinking.


  • Create several mantras to propel forward the “excellent or praiseworthy” tasks in your week.
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recite-13688-770466689-1rsv240.pngExample 1: Anytime a thought enters my mind that I know is detrimental to others or to me, my mantra is: “I will not receive that.” When I whip out this mantra, counting on God’s help, the undesirable thought always leaves me.

Example 2: When I want  to take a little detour before starting the goal I set for the morning, my mantra is: “First things first, always.” Then I promise myself I can take the detour when the goal is checked off my schedule.

id-100162370.jpgExample 3: On the other hand, a relaxing or fun activity between your goal-oriented tasks is important and fruitful. You may need a mantra to pull away from the mound of work. You might borrow the old saw, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Just replace Jack with your name.


  • Have fun with these 3 simple steps to create mantras that will keep you moving forward.
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Step 1: Identify what usually prevents you from doing or thinking what’s “excellent or praiseworthy.”

Step 2: If someone else repeatedly used your tactics, what would you say (or want to say) to them?

Suppose your problem is dragging your feet in entering your workspace. You might want to say to your invisible twin: “Go into your office, turn your light on, and plant your derrière into your chair, bud.”

Step 3: Shorten it. Make it catchy to you. Repeatable.

chair.jpgYou might rewrite it to:  “Take a day off on your day off.” Or perhaps for a rhyme: “Derrière in the chair.” If necessary, add the “bud.”

You might want to rewrite the adage, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Possibly, “Rest or be dull at best.”



  • Your mantras can pull you out of the sludge of unhelpful thoughts and unfruitful tasks.
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What are mantras you use to keep you from the mire of unfruitfulness?

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  1. Marcia A. Lahti

    It will be fun reading other’s comments. Ones i recognize in my own life are: “When in doubt, throw it out.” “WWJD.” “When it’s gone its gone.” The last one, however, keeps me in the mire. I use it when a piece of cake is sitting on the counter, a bag of potato chips or a sleeve of Ritz crackers is open . . . With my daughters I use, “A woman’s got to do what a woman’s got to do.” One would understand that to mean get a mamagram, but for the one with Downs it means “Do the hard thing, because it’s the right thing to do as an adult even though you don’t want to do it. Get a flu shot or wash your uniform.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Marcia, my mantras pale to yours. Another of mine is: Just do the next thing.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Thanks for the encouragement, Amy.

  2. anemulligan

    I have 2 or 3 printed and framed that are always within my eye’s reach when I’m in my writing nook. 🙂

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      A great idea, Ane. Better than my yellow stickies on my Mac.

  3. Jane Foard Thompson

    I’ve recently learned to ask myself, “What do you really want?” It breaks me out of the fog and jogs me into the reality that every minute I’m making a choice that propels me one direction or another.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Good one, Jane. I’m more likely asking, “Why did I come downstairs?” It’s not a mantra really but it gets me out of my writing world and on the road to remember what I’m doing.

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