You could substitute in the word "initiative," "goal," or "target" if you don't like mantra. I'm not a believer in anything new agey or mystical. Rather, for me, "mantra" captures a complex and detailed idea in a short word or phrase. They're things I'm working on.
I was brainstorming at a cafe what I'm working on, what's most crucial in terms of development. This is the list I came to -
Start day productive
I don't need to feel good to do the right thing.
In greater detail:
Create: Make things that didn't exist before, for myself and for others. This is higher level work than what I'd call "Maintenance," which just keeps you afloat where you're at. (Maintenance is still super valuable though, I do a few hours of maintenance a day. Stretching, answering email, and doing basic responsibilities of a typical job would all be maintenance.)
Enterprise: The hardest to explicitly define in words, but not difficult to grasp. This is roughly getting people to use what I create, and getting compensated for that. Enterprising is the marketing, business, getting paid side of things. Mostly. It includes some other semi-businessy things like that as well.
Start day productive: I already spend the first 30 minutes of most day pretty well - stretching, a little planning, and things like that. But beyond that, I'd like to spend the first 3-4 hours on the most important things. That's not a particularly revolutionary idea - almost everyone agrees this is valuable. Yet, it's easy to do semi-important things or get distracted first. I find the first few hours of the day often sets the tone for the day, and I'd like to keep refining how I spend mine.
Focus: Put uninterrupted focus into tasks. Don't multitask anything that's important. If taking a break, explicitly take a break. Don't halfway take a break. This is surprisingly difficult to do sometimes, but I think it's probably one of the biggest predictors of success.
Celerity: Move faster. Celerity.
I don't need to feel good to do the right thing: I scribbled this kind of aimlessly at the bottom of the page, but I'm starting to think it's wonderful. A lot of times, I'll be tired or low energy or uncreative or whatever. Happens to everyone. "I don't feel inspired..." - and then I can repeat, "Well, I don't have to feel good to do the right thing."
It's kind of brilliant in its simplicity, and lots of value in it.
That's what I'm working on developing for traits lately. What are you working on?
I'm on board with this idea "I don't need to feel good to do the right thing" but it's a lot easier in theory than in practice. I think a more challenging move - and honestly, a new idea - would be to figure out Why you don't feel like doing the right thing? It's way more sustainable in the long run than forcing yourself..
I've gotten a lot of emails lately, which has been fantastic. My email volume keeps going up.
There's one question I've gotten a few times, in a few different forms. "How do you do so much [thing]?" Reading is a common one, since I read a lot of books. Or balancing projects with working, traveling, tourism, connecting with people.
First off, I don't think I'm so good at getting stuff done. I see there's a lot more I could do. There's probably a lot better role models than me - if you can find someone who works a stimulating high powered job, competes athletically, parents, and does some philanthropy or art, that person is way ahead of me and you ought to look them up and ask them for their thoughts next time you see them.
I used to be insanely busy like that, with 3-5 things that should be a full time effort on the go at the same time. That's probably part of the secret to it right there - if you overload yourself without getting to breaking point, you'll be amazed at what you can do.
There's ripple effects when you're extremely busy. You stop screwing off and wasting time, because you can't. And other people start respecting your time more, too. If your entire calendar is open, people are flaky and whimsical and ambiguous with plans. But when you say, "My only time free for the next three weeks is this Saturday, at 8AM" - guess what? People come meet you at 8AM Saturday. Now, it'd be absurd to ask someone to commute into the city to meet you at 8AM on Saturday if you weren't busy, but if you are busy, you do it because you have to. And people respect your time.
You know when I was the most productive? The day before I started writing about how productive I was. You know when I was the least productive? About a week after that. You know where I am now? Still trying to get back to the pinnacle.
What went wrong? I started to believe not that I was producing, but that I was a productive person. I'm a man, and it takes no maintenance to stay that way. I'm American, and it takes no effort to remain american. Those are things I am. But producing is something I do. I'm productive when I'm producing, and I'm no longer productive when I stop. There's upkeep involved.
When I write a blog post about how productive I am, and it is received well, I see myself in a different light. I shouldn't, but before my conscious could grab ahold of it, my subconscious granted me the title of Productive Person.
So I started slacking. Not a lot, but enough to notice. Rather than pushing myself to not browse Reddit all day, I'd take a break here and there. Instead of pushing through from 11pm to midnight, I'd cut out early and waste time for the last hour of my day. I downloaded a chess game for my phone and would play a few games per day, rationalizing that it's an intelligent game, so learning how to play was a good idea. But that's not why I played-- I played to escape the pressure of hard work. Twelve hours of honest work shrunk down to six or eight hours of work stretched to a twelve to fourteen hour window.