I actually used to think mantras were kind of woo woo and stupid. But when you learn more, you know more and you can then make decisions based on that knowledge.
Now, I didn’t look up, nor do I know the definition of a mantra. But I know I was thinking of them in a restricted manner before. So I’ll share my journey to embracing mantras and then walk you through my four favs over the last two years or so.
Looking back, I’ve used “mantras” pretty heavily throughout my life whether it was in sports or religion. Many uses of positive self talk are in a mantra-like form. I’ve certainly used them by default with lifting weights – repeating the same word or phrase before a lift or even during a lift in order to get me through it with a positive and successful mindset.
I personally think of mantras as a word or phrase we repeat with the intent of changing our current reality into one we desire more than our current state. Often, if not always, mantras are things we either believe, or want to believe.
So, when I started thinking of mantras as a simple mental practice to better myself, it opened doors of possibility. Because like, I said, I had previously thought of mantras as something that happened with a shaman in a cave with smoke and ancestors. Which may also be true, but not the practice i was looking for. To each his own.
Okay, let’s get into my fav mantras that I have used and seen growth from over the past two years or so.
The first one comes from an entrepreneurial standpoint FOR SURE. I don’t remember if Allison Tenney or my Mastermind said it first, but it was def from one of those humans.
Mantra #1 is:
It is so common to feel overwhelm and mild panic in the work of entrepreneurship. Shit hits the fan more often than not, especially when you’re just starting out. Obviously with the more experience you have, the more confidence you gain in your ability to solve problems and roll with the punches.
But even then, it’s never fun to have the wrong email link go out to thousands of people, or the internet to crash during your live call, or just…doing your taxes, in general.
So when we got home, I was pretty stressed and had given myself some rather unrealistic deadlines for producing and launching the Big Lift Audit with an update to Built By Annie. It was a lot. There were tears. And Nate and I had also planned a two week road trip during this period of time for his birthday, so the pressure was on to get a nauseating amount of work done in a VERY short time.
And so I started repeating “this can be easy” “this can be easy” – and I kid you not, just verbalizing that possibility into reality brought a sense of calmness and confidence in myself. It went from complete and utter chaotic overwhelm to “We can do this. People need this. What needs to happen first?”
That was the first time I REALLY put this mantra to work and I have used it countless times since, in order to keep my cool and accomplish something that seems overwhelming, unrealistic, or just down right frustrating.
In the process of hiring my virtual assistant, contacting the state, and creating and terminating accounts for two months, you better believe “this can be easy” kept me from physically reaching through the phone to rip off the heads of state employment officials.
So, give it a try in literally ANY area of life when you need something to feel more possible than it feels right now. I’d even use this in lifting or a hard workout. It’s a simple mindset shift into possibilities.
There is a #1.5 that kind of goes along with #1.
I heard this from one of my 1:1 clients. She was in a stressful season and had a lot going on. It was more than she felt like she had time for. So she was repeating “I have time.” I immediately fell in love with this phrase and have used it on several occasions since then.
Again, it just takes you from manic to calm and collected. From being paralyzed to taking action. Or that’s the effect it has for me, anyway.
Mantra #2 also has to do with time
Slow down to speed up
I heard this one years ago but never used it until 2018. It came from Hilary Rushford when I was going through B School and Elegant Excellence in 2016. And it’s from this idea that we can’t always be hustling or sprinting. If you read the book Essentialism, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
The hustle is allowed. I’d even argue its needed for reaching any goal in fitness, business or life. But like sprinting or lifting near maximal loads, those high effort exertions require longer rest periods. Sure you can keep trying to put out maximal effort with minimal rest, but eventually you’re going to LITERALLY, in this case, burn out. Power output decreases dramatically, you run out of gas, lactic acid will take over and you’ll be forced to rest.
The same is true for life and business. When we slow down, we can breathe, create, and strategize. We can get our mind right, stay the course, or change the course. But we have to slow down for those things to happen. Then, when we have a strategy and healthy head space, we can speed up and get to work again.
I use this mostly in business. When I feel like I’ve been sprinting or I know I’m in a sprinting season, I repeat slow is fast. That allows me to remind myself that I will 100% burn out if I don’t rest after this sprint.
And every time I slow down, without fail, I make my biz better – I create something new, see a new opportunity, find a new level of gratitude, create a new system, or reach a new level in some way shape or form.
Slow is fast. Slow down to speed up.
Take any rendition of that mantra you like, and USE IT.
On to #3
This is obviously for the gym – but also for life.
I have used this for almost 10 years in the gym – “one rep” “one rep at a time” “one more rep” over and over and over again.
There is this misconception that fit people, athletes, or fitness professionals just have an overflowing reserve of motivation.
While I love lifting weights and do tend to have a high motivation to hit the gym, there are always 500 other things I could be doing with time. In fact being an entrepreneur was the worst thing that ever happened to my gains. I have chosen my business and work over the gym more times than I’d like to admit.
So that’s just to say that we, or I suppose I should speak solely for myself – I get to the gym because of years of discipline, not motivation. I go because I know what happens when I do, and I know what happens when I don’t. That just comes with experience and training age.
Now, I get to the gym. Whether it’s a good or bad lift, I use “one rep at a time” or some version of that all throughout my lift. Sometimes it starts as early as the warm up. But more often than not it happens in my main lift (my big compound movements), in higher rep range sets, and during exercises I hate doing.
THAT is when I repeat “one rep at a time.”
Again with the mindset shift. It’s the one step at a time mentality during a marathon or climbing a mountain. You might complete 300 reps during an entire workout. If you can just focus on one rep at a time, rather than the full set or even the full workout ahead of you, you’ll experience a higher quality lift. And you’ll likely enjoy that process on a deeper level.
I am sure you can see how this applies to life as well. One day at a time. One conversation at a time. One choice at a time. Essentially it’s focusing on the present process and what you can do NOW, vs worrying about the future or stressing about the massive journey ahead.
Moving on to the last mantra.
Thiiiiiiiiis one has been with me for a hot minute and absolutely came from entrepreneurship. I am a perfectionist at heart. And there is simply no place for perfection AND progress in business. You can shoot for perfection and never make progress, or get shit done, learn and do better.
That’s where mantra #4 comes from.
Get it 80-90% perfect. Call it done. Put 100% effort into that process, and give it to the world.
So, I have to preface this with the fact that I was raised in sports by the saying “perfection before progression.” Yes…so, I’m sure you can see where literally FLIPPING that on it’s head was no easy task.
While shooting for perfection in sports is probably a good thing, it is not a fitting saying for life or business. Perfection before progression will get you NO PROGRESS in these cases – this is my belief.
Instead, I encourage you to embrace the mantra of “done, not perfect.”
Done doesn’t mean half assed, done doesn’t mean it’s unfinished, done literally means it is completed. But you’ll be paralyzed FIVE-ever if you keep shooting for perfection before doing the thing, or putting your dream into the world.
And yo, you can ALWAYS improve! Every program or course or offer I’ve ever put into the world is not perfect, and I continue to improve and update them.
I have updated Built by Annie three times now. It went from one program, to three tries and four programs, down to three programs, I added live calls, and then updated the programs with added mobility and core work, and took all my calls to create Annie’s Secret Laboratory of Brain Gains. YOUR FIRST WILL NEVER BE YOUR LAST. And it most certainly won’t be your best!
First ju-Jitsu practice will be terrible, but you’ll get better. Just get it done. First podcast will be super hard, and terrifying, and not smooth. But you’ll get better. You feel me? You get my drift?
I put FitsPRO Foundations and Instagram 101 into the world and have since updated and improved both of them and will continue to do so. But if I didn’t just FINISH them, I would have never launched. Never helped all those people, and never learned how to do better.
Sooooo I left this one for last because I think it is one that a lot of people need. Especially performance driven people. We want things to be perfect and probs have a fear of failure as well. Giving yourself the freedom to stop at 80-90% perfection and call it good will be life changing for you my friend.
Done not perfect. Repeat it whenever you’re working on a project. For work, for business, for school. Whatever. 100% effort. Just not 100% perfection. Because friend, it will NEVER be perfect.
That’s it! Those are my mantras that I’ve gained and practiced for the past 2-10 years.
I would love for you to take them on or just start using mantras in general. They can be monumental for your mindset if you’re open to them.
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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.
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