Whether working at a job or at home, we spend an extreme amount of our lives “working.” Specifically, employed Americans, spend 8.8 hours a day working (and other related activities) per the Bureau of Labor Statistics report of 2015. That’s ⅓ of everyday, the largest piece of our daily pie, spent on working. The next closest time investment is on sleeping. Does that make anyone tired yet? ?Zzzzzzzz…
On the flipside, for stay-at-home moms, the tenth annual Mom Survey reported moms are pouring 97 hours a week into maintaining a household. That includes 13.2 hours as a daycare teacher and 14 hours as a chef. What?! ? When are moms sleeping? I don’t know about you but it feels good to know there’s a survey out there that starts to quantify why we are so exhausted all the time.
That’s a ton of time right? Hours upon hours on “working.” Whew! I think Rihanna got it right when she sang…”work, work, work, work, work..” But what are we striving for with all this work? Where exactly are we headed?
I used to be a former competitive athlete, a nationally ranked tennis player to be exact. And one of my most memorable lessons from organized sports is the purpose of F O C U S. I could hit the courts all day rallying with practice partners, but without a concentrated effort, I would consistently fall short of the winner’s circle, toting a trophy, at any tournament. Without strategy and focus, considering my strengths and weaknesses, I would never be able to reach my optimal performance as a player.
So what helps in shifting “work” to “winning work”?
Indulge me once more in another sports analogy (sometimes I just can’t help myself). It’s like playing football for an entire season not knowing what the endgame is (pun intended). Is the goal the super bowl (or some level of championship) or not? If a goal isn’t defined, then there is a good deal of exercise happening, but other than that, winning is on a whim.
At the end of this season, where do YOU want to be?
Let’s switch gears some – I’ve worked in education over the past 7 years and I developed a greater appreciation for all the preparation that goes into creating and teaching a class. Lesson plans don’t just bloom by themselves to deliver good content. They need teachers to provide the right elements of sun, soil and water to ensure students’ minds grow. Curriculum focus achieves that for both teachers and students. If you or I signed up for a history class, we might spend an entire semester learning random unrelated historical facts to pass the course. Or if the teacher could distinguish which era of history we were focusing on and even state the “why” in its relevancy to today’s life, we would know where we were headed and what we would be learning. Some could argue, having a vision of the end goal helps in actually getting there. I know I would.
So, what’s your focus this year? Consider yourself an athlete, coach or teacher…of yourself. Where would you like to concentrate your efforts this year?
If you missed my previous post on the importance of a mantras, you can read it here: Manifesting Your 2016: Pick Your Mantra. The personal mantra is similar to a slogan, tagline, or operating plan that many teams, businesses, households and people use today. I mean, who wants to run a marathon in a circle with no end? Establishing focus outlines where the finish line is for us.
Where are you trying to go in life? And let’s add detail: where do you need to go this year in order to achieve personal success?
A personal mantra will focus your efforts this year. It will define the next step towards personal success for you. The mantra decision should take into consideration past win/loss history and strategy. For example, if personal fitness is still a goal of yours this year, what techniques have worked/not worked in the past? If a weight-loss program wasn’t the right fit for you but having a personal trainer was, that data should be considered. ?
Let’s give you some examples. Once I delivered a workshop to a audience of women friends in New York City. We were talking about our current personal challenges and what was getting in the way of us taking our lives to the next level. One friend, that works in fashion, said she would see famous fashion influencers on the train (this is common in NYC) and instead of jumping on the moment to introduce herself and deliver her elevator speech, she froze like an iPhone with no storage and too many apps. We can all relate to the ‘no storage available’ pop-up right? ?
As a group, we discussed the benefits of seizing these moments to network via transit opportunities and came up with the slogan of “just do it.” These three words were her champion phase for the following year to eliminate paralyzing thoughts and not be stopped by stomach butterflies. This tagline would give her the jump-start to seize the moment for better business connections. I’m happy to say, years later, she’s one of the current change makers in the fashion world. ?
Another example I can share is one from my own life book. Last year, I needed to shift my expectations some. I had spent a handful of years financially strained as a single mom surviving in New York City. At times, I had to borrow money for groceries, go to the local park for free lunches and skip meals to ensure my kids had what they needed. But I knew in my mind, that no matter how hard the present conditions were, I had to start manifesting greater situations and then the universe would provide them. This is the power in visualization and our personal mantras serve as daily reminders on where to focus our vision.
I was in survival mode for some years in New York City, making ends meet and holding down the fort. But in order not to fall into a scarcity mindset, which can takeover entire lives, I knew I had to push my mind to see greater. So, my mantra last year was Thrive in 2016. Hashtag that: #Thrive2016. And I knew exactly what I meant when I would write it down on paper or use it in a tagline in my social media posts. I knew I was pushing my mind to expect greater things in the future, so that we could stop just surviving but thrive in 2016.
And that’s exactly what happened: the universe gave me what I asked for. Little shifts started with job opportunities, more time to myself, more peace, more signs, more clarity, more balance and I even moved my entire family back to Chicago in an unthinkable couple of weeks. And that just set me up on a whole other level of living and thriving with my family.
Mantras work people. They keep us focused. So whether you’re a CEO running a business or a mother taking care of the household (or both), everyone benefits from having a focused life. You should be answering the question: What’s the next actionable item you need to take to get to the next level of personal success?
*** Bonus Benefit of Mantras: They serve as guidelines in decision making. A ton of decisions come up in a day, month and year. How will you distinguish which to say yes or no to? (Assuming you already know you can’t say yes to everything). If what you are asked to do doesn’t line up to your mantra or isn’t in some way related, it’s a no-go. Focus your energy, your decision, your life. I like that – Tweet that!
Now that I’ve got you all pumped, and convinced, to use a mantra, allow me to totally make your day with 4 simple steps to select one right now, today, after reading this blog. (Doooooooiiiiiitttttt)
4 Simple Steps to Select a Personal Mantra for 2017:
1) Make it simple. Something you can remember and hashtag. If you can’t make it your computer password, it’s too long. Don’t try to answer all the things you need to do next. Just the very ONE next thing. Examples: #Thrive2017, #FitForLife2017, #LoveMore2017, #PursuePurpose2017, #SleepBetter2017, #PresentMore2017.
2) Select power words. Just like writing a resume, you want to pack a small and mighty punch. Select words that ignite energy within you. Here’s a list of positive power words that I found to help. I also just love picking music songs for mantras. Check out some here.
3) Use positive phrasing only. Attract what you want. Not what you don’t want. Example: if you want more peace, don’t use “anti-war” because the word “war” is still in the phrase and attracts our attention. Opt for “greater peace”. The way our minds work, we are only attracted to the main words in a phrase and omit the “non”, “not” or “no” in front of it. That’s a parenting tip too – instead of saying “don’t run,” you can say “walk please.” Plus, the phrase will be more direct and succinct. Keep it clear people.
4) Surround yourself with your mantra. You are the team and the coach. Just like players who come together daily to huddle, review the play and chant…that needs to be you and your mantra. Hashtag it all the way to Dec 31 2017.
Got it? Good! Now go forth and be merry!
But do me a favor? Comment below and let me know what will be your mantra this year. I’m excited to hear!
And share this message with your friends. Get everyone on the mantra train!