my new mantra: Do What Matters

This week I was given an assignment: make a mantra for myself. I got this assignment because I signed up for an online course with Brené Brown, who I have probably talked up enough lately, so I’ll just say the  “Dream Lab” course is available here and it’s not free, and it started almost a month ago, but I joined late too and I’m not sorry I did.

So my assignment was to find a mantra for my life, one that replaces the mantras I might have used in the past, words that represent the way I want to live my life going forward. Here it is:

do what matters

This year, I am going to try to life my life doing what matters.

I keep a running to-do list in a notebook (haven’t found software as easy to use yet). I have columns marked to call, to email, errands, to do, to do online. I’ve just added another: do what matters. 

I’m going to give more of my time and energy to things that matter– to my kids, to my marriage, to my work, to me– and less to things that don’t. 

When the kids are at school, and I sit down at the computer, I’m going to check my “do what matters” list before I go on Facebook.

Instead of spending an entire morning answering the first ten emails in my inbox (since the more emails I send, the more emails I get), I’m going to check for true emergencies, and then do one thing on my “do what matters” list before falling prey to the tyranny of the urgent.
Instead of hitting the couch with the remote as soon as the kids are in bed and getting caught up on the Real Housewives, once a week, I’m going to call a friend who lives far away, and get caught up on her life.

“Doing what matters” doesn’t always have to mean being more productive. 

It means I’ll stop whatever I’m doing when my husband comes home from work, and take a moment to greet him with a hug.

It also means that when I drop my kids off at school and find out that they’re celebrating Chinese New Year, I will stick around to watch Seamus sing (in Mandarin) about rabbits- even if I miss precious writing time.

More read-aloud time, more Monopoly, more art projects. 
And probably fewer situps.

My friend Meagan Francis over at The Happiest Mom also declared a new mantra this week. Hers is: Do fewer things. Do them better. 

I like that one too.

Do you have a mantra?

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeanne's Daughter February 4, 2011 at 7:00 pm

Funny you mention mantras, I just wrote about one: "It's in the soup." It means that you have to have faith your kids will be all right if you spend the bulk of your time loving them. Here's hoping.

Take a look:


Jessica D Torres February 4, 2011 at 7:14 pm

I like you new mantra of do what matters. It is easy to get caught up and feel that we need to do everything but the reality is we don't have enough time. We should focus on what matters. One saying I heard recently that is similar to your mantra is "don't major in minor things". This saying has really stuck with me.


Courtney February 4, 2011 at 8:04 pm

I do have a mantra! I came up with it when I went back to work full-time after a year at home with my baby because I was feeling very overwhelmed trying to juggle all the diffent balls in my life. It is "I am not just a mom. I am a wife. I am not just a wife I am a friend. I am not just a friend I am a valued employee. I am not just an employee, I am a sister…" You get the point.

It helps me greatly on days when I feel stretched too thin. For example, I sometimes have meetings for events that I plan at work that stretch until 7:00 p.m., and by the time I get home, my daughter is in bed. BUT, on those days, I remind myself, I am not JUST a mom, I am a good employee. And I know that the next day, it might be reversed…I might be at home all day with my daughter, and then it won't matter that I didn't tuck her in the night before, because NOW I am doing it. I love mantras!


Meagan @ The Happiest Mom February 4, 2011 at 11:31 pm

Tyranny of the Urgent is my FAVORITE SimpleMom post ever! It sums it up so well. I love your mantra of "do what matters." It really helps cut to the chase of what we HAVE to do versus all the noise and distractions. I wrote a follow up post today about allowing whatever is happening right now to "be enough"–and tomorrow I'm going to cover how to determine what NEEDS to be done vs what is in your face. I think I'll reference your post, because what needs to be done IS what matters! If it doesn't matter, it doesn't need to be done, right?


Missy@Wonder, Friend February 5, 2011 at 4:51 am

No mantra yet, but I'm inspired. I've been thinking a lot about authenticity, so I'm going with something in that vein.


Jaime February 5, 2011 at 4:07 pm

I don't have a mantra, but I do have a personal theme song (ala Ally McBeal). Does that count?


Deborah H Mills February 5, 2011 at 5:33 pm

I came up with my mantra last year, and I try to live it. I really believe a good life boils down to two things…
"Attitdue and common sense. Plain and simple."
I really really try on the attitude part, but sometimes it is oh so hard.


Meagan @ The Happiest Mom February 5, 2011 at 10:08 pm

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