As a ‘constant improver’ [or whatever term you wish to use], I am constantly driven to improve, to follow the fire inside me that pushes me to achieve. This is my purpose, and it motivates and fuels me to make progress.
But sometimes, we need more than just the jump-start. Especially once we hit a slump: some kind of obstacle or even just running out of that fuel.
Whether we seek to change a habit, make a transition, expand our horizons or follow the path forward, I often find myself repeating a six-word mantra to motivate myself to keep making some kind of progress.
It is not some untold secret, nor some great proverb.
It is the thing which I say to myself, or to anyone when it feels like we cannot make progress when it feels like we cannot make today’s change happen. When that habit is not yet formed, and we’re finding it hard to keep the momentum up. When you know this task will help you overall, but it’s difficult right now.
“Show up. Stay until the end.”
This is my mantra when the going gets tough. I am motivated by consistency, so I make the tiniest shuffle forward; even if that step is at a diagonal point from my path; it’s forwards.
It won’t make the day easier. It won’t cure depression. Saying these six words will not give you super-human strength.
But when the only options seem to be giving 100% or quitting for that day: I opt for a middle road. Show up, do what you can.
Once you’ve shown up, you’ve already passed the hard bit. You made it. You began. Give yourself a sticker. You’ve taken a step so that today wasn’t “pointless.” You’re not still at 0. You’ve made some kind of progress.
And that in itself can be a motivation for taking another baby step. If you made it to the start line, you may as well stay. Just be present. Be here. Sit at this moment.
This mantra is useful when we do not have the strength to workout. When we are on day 27 of a 40-day meditation challenge and are faced with Resistance. We can use it to push through writer’s block, when there is a deadline looming overhead, or when we cannot face another meeting at work.
On those days when continuing a change feels like climbing a mountain: I may not feel able to face the full workout, but I will do the beginner stretches and do some kind of movement for five minutes.
When you feel that maybe today you’ll just take the day off: show up anyway.
Show up and put your meditation track on, even if you lay down and fall asleep.
Some days, our ‘best’ is just showing up. And that’s okay. Keep the chain going.
Because taking a step is the only way to make progress, no matter how small that step is.
Originally published at mapyourpotential.co.uk, the previous home of RootedReinvention.com on March 9, 2018. It has been updated and expanded here.