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 might have cracked the procrastination nut.
One of the things that's plagued me for years is that a heavy, intense period of doing lots of good stuff is frequently followed by a crash.
The crash partially negates the gains from having a good period. If you put in an excellent, intense four days of creative work, that's good. But if you can't look at your work and projects for half a week afterwards, you negate some of that progress as compared to just slowly, steadily putting in time.
What's worse is that, for me, the crashes tended to be full-on, nothing-valuable-happening. I don't mean not working. I mean nothing valuable. When I'd crash, I'd usually not be reading good books, spending time in nature on the beach, or whatever. It'd be more like getting into high stimulation distraction, where it sucks your time without giving you anything back. Without even recharging you, even.
So, I started looking at how crashes come on.
Every Friday Leo asked us to blog about how we did with unprocrastination. I missed yesterday but it's one day late. I swear it's not because I procrastinated :p, just prefer to do it on saturday.
I didn't write down how I did but If i had to give it a number I think I had 80% success rate. The small habits I'm working on are my waking and pre-bed habits: 1) tidying up as I go; 2) stretches; 3) meditation/contemplation (mindfulness). I did tidy up all week as my room is organized, so is the kitchen, so is my desk and files. Some days it wasn't necessary to tidyup very long at all, so I'd do something extra, or just skip it. I have been stretching right after waking and before sleeping. I do a simple sun salutation and some cat cows and then some stretches on my back. I've did that this week at about 90%. For the 3rd, meditation/mindfulness, I've done that about 60%. I am working on being mindful of my emotions, so I've been using my feelings as a central point in my meditation. I forget to do it sometimes, or I start and get distracted.
2. What got in the way?
I think sometimes what got in the way was my craving to watch a show on my ipad instead before bed, or read. And then just kind of rush my rituals. in the morning, I also over slept and then didn't have time or just felt anxious so the whole point of stretching and mindfulness was focused around quelling my anxiety.