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Go-To Phrase

A back to school must read by Anne Maxwell

August doesn’t kick off the calendar year, but the sultry summer month still summons thoughts of starting over. 

Even if you’re not a student or teacher in the first few weeks of a new school year, chances are you have a child or a spouse who is. As part of such a support system, you might be searching for words of motivation during the challenging re-entry into early mornings, schedules, activities and homework.  

I like to call it a “go-to phrase.” It’s the soundtrack you plug and play when it’s time to push through or take that first step. One that usually comes to mind for me comes from a wonderful teacher and coach in high school that used to say, “Those who hesitate are lost forever.” 

Simply put: get out there and get after it. 

His words run through my head when I’m overwhelmed with to-do’s and underwhelmed in confidence. I smile as I think about much simpler times with much simpler predicaments, such as, “Where am I supposed to be in a 2-2-1 press?” It helps me remember in the end, games are lost, games are won. The final score doesn’t matter. You just need to get out there and do it. I pick my chin up, and move forward. Thanks, Coach Mac. 

It got me thinking about what go-to phrases others might use. So, I stopped wondering and started asking.

My 14-year-old uses, “Stop being a baby … go get that bread!” 

“What?” I replied, somewhat concerned and obviously needing a frame of reference. 

“It’s like I’m criticizing myself for feeling like I don’t want to do something and picking myself up at the same time.”  

Her lingo threw me for a loop, but I could see how a dose of self-deprecation coupled with a swift mental kick can do the trick. She says it works, and after all, no one needs a mother micromanaging their mantra.

I had a co-worker who simply said, “Tuck and roll.”During some pretty stress-filled days, I could always count on her to smile and throw out her go-to phrase with a bit of exasperation, but plenty of “We’ve got this”in her voice. We would adjust and roll with the challenge at hand. 

She explains: “It plays to my nature of being a realistic optimist. I can handle anything if I have the details.”

My oldest, who just finished nursing school, says she trusts in Philippians 4:13. 

“It was my 10-word prayer that got me through most of those tests, to be honest,” she said, counting out word by word on her fingers: “I can do all things in Christ, who strengthens me.”  Amen.

My baby brother said he wishes he had something more quotable other than his reliable, “Put your head down and go.” 

“It gets me in the frame of mind to move forward,” he said. “Just take that first step and don’t look back.”

And then there’s a college friend of mine, a school counselor, who can always be counted on for a positive mind frame. She says she’s been wearing a shirt a lot lately that says, “The power of yet.” 

She explained: “I have become big on the growth mindset theory. When I think I can’t do something, I add ‘yet’ to the end of it.” 

Such as:

I’m not good at math … yet. 

I’m not confident in my job … yet. 

I’m not the best with time management … yet.

I loved that and plan to put it to great use sometime soon. 

I haven’t stopped procrastinating … yet. 

Whether you’re aiming to go get that bread, moving forward, or pursuing the power of yet, keep this in mind: words matter. 

They can lift someone up, tear someone down. The same goes for you inside your head. 

So whatever your motivational mantra, make it personal, make it positive. Plug and play as often as you need to and whenever you feel like you can’t, remember: 

“Yes you can.” 

Read more Anne Maxwell blogs by clicking here----> Anne Maxwell Page

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