t’s time for mantras to lose their New Age-y stereotype. The word mantra originates in Sanskrit and has been translated in English in various ways: a hymn or song of praise, sacred message or text, charm, spell, counsel, or incantation.
While mantras are frequently used in meditation sessions to silence mental chatter, anyone can benefit from one. Our minds are full of noise—largely repetitive, useless, and even harmless thoughts that are on replay much of the time. A mantra can slice through these thoughts in any moment, especially when you craft one that is meaningful just to you.
I recommend having two mantras for the two areas of your life where you need them most. If you’re on the job hunt, for example, maybe you have one to reassure you before an interview. If you’re dating, you have another to repeat on the way to a first date. (Struggling with body image? Try one of these 35 body-positive mantras to say in your mirror every morning.)
Here are five steps to come up with a kick-ass mantra you can use to help you feel strong, capable, and at peace when you need it the most. Think of it as your one-word pep talk, available at anytime or place.
We’ll use the career success example here.
5 Steps to Manifest Your Mantra
1. Review your biggest achievements.
Write down five to eight of your proudest career successes to date—anything from scoring a competitive job to presenting confidently to a group of people to getting some brilliant feedback from a client or manager. Don’t be bashful! No one will see this list but you.
2. Rate each item from one to 10.
One means it gives you no pleasure at all, and 10 means it puts a smile on your face and an immediate spring in your step when you think of it.
3. Select the one item that makes you feel the most confident, self-assured, and strong.
It has to top the list. If two or more are tied, think about which experience was the most fun and rewarding to go through and which generates the most pride.
4. Condense it into one word.
Yes, just one. For example, my client Tom always dreamed of living in New York City. He’s from a small town in the Midwest, and his friends and family did not believe he could move to New York and have a successful career here. But after much hard work, persistence, and creativity—he did. His number one achievement: “I proved everyone wrong, and despite the odds, scored a great role in the city of my dreams.”
His one-word mantra? Manhattan.
5. Use this one word daily.
Especially at times when you need to hear it. I say my personal mantra in the shower, on the subway, before I send an important email, and always before I do something bold. Your one word will remind you how far you’ve come, what great things you’re capable of, and who you really are.
Your one word will remind you how far you’ve come, what great things you’re capable of, and who you really are.
Say you want a mantra to use in a dating context. You can still take the same steps: Recall great relationship experiences, fun dates, and happy times you had with someone you cared about. These need to fuel positive emotions and capture a feeling that makes you feel good about yourself and excited about being in a relationship again. Maybe your mantra becomes “laughter,” “be open,” or simply “summertime.”
Your mantra is the ultimate positive statement that truly resonates with your heart and mind. No one else needs to know about it or understand it. Bring your mantra silently to mind when you need to be reminded of your ability and your capacity to create the life you want. Like an uplifting affirmation, your personal mantra will give you the immediate confidence injection you need.
What will yours be?