Sometimes we all need some words of encouragement, some words to live by.
Maybe you’re having a rough day, or maybe you just feel like you’ve been in a funk for a while but can’t explain why.
There’s something to be said for not only being able to recognize those moments but also for being able to quickly get yourself out of them. But how can you do that?
With personal mottos, that’s how.
Life hasn’t always been good to me. I mean, I didn’t grow up starving in a third world country with no running water kind of rough, but let’s just say that I know many more people who had a better start in life than I do people who had it worse.
One of the ways that I’ve managed to turn that around and make it a solid, unshakeable habit to keep focusing on the positive is by having a list of personal mottos to read over whenever I feel myself starting to get down, or start to wonder if I’m worth the good that has come my way.
And since these life mottos have been such a God-send for me, keeping me more upbeat, more often…well, I want the same for you.
What Is A Personal Motto?
According to vocabulary.com, “a motto is a slogan or favorite saying, like ‘when life hands you lemons, make lemonade.’”
But I have my own, slightly different motto definition: a motto is a powerful phrase that lifts you up and reminds you to stay positive.
Because that’s exactly what all good mottos should do, right? I mean, my girl loves the show Game of Thrones where the one family has the motto “winter is coming.” It’s totally their favorite saying, if you’ve seen the show, and it’s definitely short enough to be catchy. But not so great for moral, am I right?
You want to be fairly picky about what you decide makes your shortlist of “best mottos.” You want these short, one-liners to be SO good that reading just one of them could get you out of your funk in a second.
Why Do I Need A Personal Motto?
Sometimes it’s all too easy to forget what is best in life.
Sometimes we start to focus on what sucks and we forget to keep working towards our goals. Not necessarily your “routine” goals, like working out, or reading 2 books per month.
I’m talking about your big goals, like making sure to challenge yourself with something regularly, working towards becoming the man you wish you could be, and using your motivation to encourage others to reach for their goals.
If you can’t contribute to bettering the world around you, then what’s the point of life?
But I’m getting off-topic here.
The real reason why you need a personal motto, what we’ll call your life motto, at the very top of your list, is because this ONE phrase is the ONLY phrase you need to either turn your life around or re-motivate you to define yourself, set (and help you reach) goals, decide on what’s next in your life, etc.
Mottos help you do 3 important things:
1) Keep you focused on who you want to be — a “north star.”
It’s all too easy to forget why we get up every morning and get on with the grind that is work and life. I know I’m not the only one who has come home from a day at work and asked myself “what am I even doing with my life?”
But having some of these mottos on hand can quickly remind me.
I actually knew that my day job (ok, day jobs) were 100% against what I wanted my life to look like. I used my mottos to remind me that life is what you make of it and that I was on the wrong track to make my life into what I had hoped — no, dreamed — it would be.
You can do the same.
If you want to be the highest paid lawyer in New York City, then, by all means, go for it. Find a motto that’s going to get you fired up, encourage you to be the best of the best, and constantly remind you that YOU can have ANYTHING you can dream up.
2) Serve as quiet reminders to stick to your guns and “go for the gold.”
Knowing exactly who or what you want to be in life doesn’t do anyone much good unless they actually go for it.
Really. Think about it — who cares if you dream of owning your own business and working from home (like I did) if I just kept saying it but never did it?
I knew I needed a change, but for a while, I’ll admit I was a bit scared to make it. What if it didn’t work out? What if I had to go back to my old job, tail between my legs, and admit failure?
But what if I make it happen — what if I succeeded?
If there is one tiny little motto that I think ALL of us should live by, it’s this: no regrets.
Don’t let life pass you by, waiting for things to happen.
Remind yourself constantly that YOU HAVE DREAMS, and you are GOING to see to it that they happen.
3) Act as both an inspiration and a calming force.
Sometimes the world feels like it may as well be entirely on fire, for how upside-down things can get. Just like a hug can help calm a panic attack, or a movie can make you want to change your life, so, too, can a great life motto.
I’ll give you a couple of examples:
Inspiration: “One person can make a difference.” (i.e. get your butt out there and start making change happen. Only one person needs to care for something to matter.)
Calming Force: “Tomorrow is another day.” (In other words, take a deep breath and give yourself a break, because failure and disappointments happen, and that’s totally ok.)
How To Use Personal Mottos
This one is easy. So easy you’re going to wonder why you ever questioned how.
- Write down phrases that strike a chord with you (trust me, you’ll know it when you read it). Make the list as long as you want, but somewhere around 20 is probably a good starting point.
- Refine your list so that you only leave behind those mottos that truly align with your need for them. Do you need reminders that life isn’t as bad as it seems (i.e. mood boosters), or are you more in need of “go get ‘em” style words? Choose those phrases that match your “theme” for your list.
- Write them, type them, record a voice memo of you saying them. Do whatever works best for you so they can easily be put front and center in a moment, every day.
- Read (or listen to) them every day. You could wait to refer to them only when you feel like you need them, but they’re a lot less powerful that way. Make a daily habit to familiarize yourself with your entire mottos list; every morning before you start the day is ideal.
- Work hard to memorize the list, in full. Why? Because if they’re just plain burned into your brain, you’re far less likely to ever fall into a state of mind where you need them — they have literally become one with who you are.
Mottos To Live By
You’ve probably heard at least a few of these before, but I want to lay out my favorite list of mottos here for you, to help you get some inspiration in picking your life’s mottos.
From The Rock stepping in to get you pumped up, to Gandhi reminding you to be the good in the world, there is definitely a motto on this list that will become your life’s motto, and always be there to remind you to be the good version of yourself, instead of the down-in-the-dumps version.
1) Family first. – Unknown
If you don’t put your loved ones before everything else in your life, then you’ll live a life unfulfilled no matter what you do.
2) When you’re good at something, you’ll tell everyone. When you’re great at something, they’ll tell you. – Walter Payton
Lots of people can brag. But it takes someone truly great to just quietly do what they do, and let others sing their praise instead of doing it themselves.
3) Blood, sweat, and respect. First two you give, last one you Earn. – Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
If you put in the effort, you get the recognition. You can’t just demand respect if you haven’t earned it.
4) You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. – Dr. Seuss
You have no excuses as to why you aren’t going where you want to go in life. What’s stopping you? (hint: only YOU can truly stop yourself from moving forward)
5) Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else. – Judy Garland
Stop comparing yourself to others. There will always be someone better, richer, smarter, whatever than you, so make damn sure that you’re the best of yourself and you’ll be in the position to be one of those “someone betters.”
6) We must become the change we wish to see in the world. – Mahatma Gandhi
If you don’t like it, change it. Nothing changes by just wishing it to happen, it happens by action.
7) Vision without action is a daydream. – Japanese Proverb
You can envision your dream job, dream partner, dream house, dream everything until you’re in the grave. And that’s all it will ever be if you don’t DO something about it.
8) If you’re going through hell, keep going. – Winston Churchill
Don’t give up. Even when you think you’ve reached your worst remember this: when you’re at your lowest, the only way to go is up. So get up.
9) He who has a why to live can bear almost any how. – Friedrick Nietzsche
As long as you know what you’re going for (your why), you can handle anything that comes your way. It doesn’t matter how you got where you are (i.e. your better life), so much as it matters why you kept fighting for it.
10) You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one. – Unknown
Don’t dwell on the past. Process what has come before, and use it to craft what is yet to come into the best it can be.
11) Go to bed with dreams, wake up with a purpose. – Unknown
Have a dream. Make a plan. Get up and make it happen.
12) We are what we repeatedly do. – Aristotle
Don’t keep dwelling on what you’ve done wrong — dwell on what you’re going to do to become who you want to be.
13) Have courage and be kind. – Kyle Boureston
You’ll need all the courage you have to get out of your comfort zone and achieve your dreams. But no one likes a jerk. Be kind to those around you, and you’ll find that life gets a whole lot nicer.
14) Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all. – Helen Keller
If you’re just going to keep spinning your wheels through life and complaining about how things are boring, too routine, or just have no spark to them, it’s time to get off your butt and make life exciting.
15) When somebody tells you nothing is impossible, ask him to dribble a football. – Unknown
Sure, we’ve all seen those “nothing is impossible” inspirational posters. But let’s face it, sometimes we can waste a LOT of time trying to do something that really doesn’t have much of a point. Pick your battles wisely.
16) Keep swinging. – Hank Aaron
No matter what’s happening — a bad day, bad luck after bad luck thrown at you — just keep giving live your best and eventually you’ll hit a homerun.
17) While I breathe, I hope. – South Carolina State Motto
So long as you are alive, you have the hope of a better day. No matter what happens, it can ALWAYS get better.
18) All that I am, I am because of my mind. – Paavo Nurmi
For better or worse, your mind controls you 100%. If you think of yourself as a failure, your mind will make it so. If you think of yourself as a success, well, it’s gonna happen.
19) It’s impossible to feel grateful and depressed in the same moment. – Naomi Williams
Make it a habit to have a gratitude session, daily. When you start to focus on what you’re thankful for — what is good in your life — it’s pretty hard to feel bummed about not having more, being better, etc. So long as you are better than you once were, you have something to be happy about.
20) It always seems impossible until it’s done. – Nelson Mandela
We’ve all had those moments where we look back and think “wow.” Make it a point to strive for the impossible, and turn it into one of those “wow, look how far I’ve come” moments.
Final Thoughts On Personal Mottos
Hopefully, this list got you started with being motivated, thinking about DO something about it and how you’re going to get there, and working on your own mottos list.
But what I really want you to take away from this article is this: always remember, mind over matter. These mottos are simply the tool to help you focus on your mind, over the matters that are eating at you.
You CAN be a success, a go-getter, a rule-breaker, a winner.
You just need to TRY.
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