Why Study This Mantra...
You will learn to center your focus around one big thing. This rally cry will leave you laser-focused and feeling more clarity than ever.
― Roy T. Bennett
This month’s mantra is meant to clarify your efforts around one singular goal, one that you will design specifically for you.
Richard Strozzi-Heckler might call this your 'declaration.' Simon Sinek might call it your 'why.' Whatever you call it, having a single focus that you dedicate yourself to day-in and day-out, that guides you and drives you, is clarifying. Its value stretches into all of your other dealings and interactions in your life. There is a change in your energy. Your inspiration. When you have a focus, people notice. In short, it gives your life purpose.
This month, you will decide what your focus should be, and you will begin to center around it.
Just as you will commit to your declaration, this is also an opportunity for you to commit to this program. As Andrew Carnegie said, “If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy and inspires your hopes.”
Before you begin...
Before you start these practices and challenges, take a moment to rate yourself on this mantra. Give yourself a score from 1-10 (10 being the highest).
Do this again at the end of a month of practices and challenges. How much have you grown?
Today's affirmation: "I am a commitment to __________."
As I put on this mantra this morning, I will state my declaration. Each time I look at my mantra, I will remind myself of what my declaration is by speaking it out loud or just in my head. As I do, I will be present in the moment, ensuring I really feel the weight of the commitment.
My goal will be to state it at least 5 times today.
Deciding Your Declaration of Focus
How will you fill in the blank on your daily affirmation this month? What are you a commitment to? You can use your journal to step through this process.
Start by asking yourself what and who is important to you and why. How do you want to live your life? And so on. These prompts are all designed to help you navigate your way to a focus. If your focus doesn't immediately jump out to you, keep going. Ask yourself how you want to evolve in the next 6-12 months, and then the following 2-5 years. What personal transformations come to mind? And so on.
The final output here should be one single focus, the one that resonates most strongly for you above all others. This thing shouldn't be easy to achieve – it should stretch you. You should feel like you only have a 70% chance of achieving it.
Take your time with this. Be with yourself and meditate on it. It's important you land on something that resonates in your heart. Something that is honest and genuine. Something that, if achieved, would make you truly happy. Something you can center your entire mental focus around day-in and day-out for months without tiring of it.
Once you've distilled it down, express it as "I am a commitment to __________."
Now how will you measure success?
I will get out my journal and write down my proudest moment(s). I will revisit this in later months.
I will think of 2-4 of my proudest moments in my entire life. What about these moments made me so proud? Did I overcome a personal obstacle or speak up for myself? Did I work incredibly hard, or create something with my hands, or venture outside my comfort zone? What skills did I employ during this moment? Are my current goals helping me feel this same pride once again?
THE POWER OF SETTING GOALS
Let’s talk about why goal setting is important for members of our Bodhi community. If you took just one lesson from this month’s challenge, it should be that setting a goal is an act that makes everything else better. The science on this is pretty clear.
- Setting goals contributes to higher motivation & self-confidence
- Setting goals is tied to stronger feelings of autonomy
- Setting a goal rewires your brain in ways that increase your likelihood of achieving that goal 
And so on. Decades of research back up this thing that we all seem to intuitively understand, which is that goals lead to success. They are not the only component of success, obviously. We still must do work to achieve our goals and to overcome setbacks as they occur. But that act of goal setting raises our likelihood of success in a number of ways.
For example, scientists have demonstrated that setting a goal causes a person’s brain to adapt its circuitry in such a way as to give work towards that goal priority over other mental tasks. It’s almost as if we’re able to hack our brains to work in our favor, which is pretty neat.
CLARITY OF MIND
And setting your goal will help you prioritize your life. The clarity that comes from saying, “This is my most important priority” is immensely helpful when making every other decision in your life. Instead of evaluating decisions based on abstractions like “good” or “bad”, you can ask yourself, “which decision would best advance my goal of XYZ?”
In order to set yourself up for success, follow the recommendations from science.
- Focus on one goal, two at most. Goal setting works better when it’s specific. [3, 7]
- The more ambitious the goal is, the more likely you are to make progress towards it.[5, 7]
In other words, don’t try to boil the ocean with a million personal goals. Focus your life on one goal, be as specific as possible, and then make sure that the goal you chose isn’t a total gimme.
As an example, if you can already run three miles and you want to be able to run a half-marathon, you could do better than these two weak goals:
- I will practice running more.
- I will run in a half-marathon.
Instead try something like this:
- I will complete a training course to achieve thirteen miles in under two hours by the end of October of this year.
THE POWER OF DECLARATION
Once you have your goal, make sure to write it down. According to research, people who write down their goals are 33% more likely to achieve them than people who merely set goals in their heads.
There’s something about writing a goal down that just makes it more real than if you just think about it. If your goal is something that can be tracked with numbers, you may consider going so far as creating a simple tracking spreadsheet. But in any case, take the time to write out your goal, preferably with a pen and paper.
Science gives us another interesting tidbit on this topic, too. The mere act of setting a difficult goal reduces its perceived difficulty.  As in, a goal that feels like a stretch before you declare it, feels like less of a stretch after you declare it. That doesn’t mean it magically becomes easy to achieve, mind you, it just means that your brain views the goal as less intimidating, which raises your overall confidence level towards achieving the end you want.
BOOSTING PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY
It’s probably no surprise that writing down your goals increases your personal accountability towards them. But if you want to take it a couple of steps further, first do this:
- Translate your goal into a plan, which will improve your personal accountability and success rate. 
And then do this:
- Send your goals and your weekly progress to a trusted friend, which has been shown to even further boost our accountability and probability of success
These two actions are a great way to increase your commitment level to your goal. And if for some reason you don’t want to share with a friend - perhaps your goal is private - writing down a plan is still a great step forward.
“Goal-Setting Is Linked to Higher Achievement”
“What Goal-Setting Does to Your Brain and Why It's Spectacularly Effective”
“The Science & Psychology Of Goal-Setting 101”
“The Science of Setting Goals”
“How to Set and Achieve Goals, According to Science”
- Gardner, Sarah and Albee, Dave, "Study focuses on strategies for achieving goals, resolutions" (2015). Press Releases. 266 https://scholar.dominican.edu/news-releases/266
- Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (2006). New Directions in Goal-Setting Theory. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 15(5), 265-268.
- Kleingeld A, van Mierlo H, Arends L. The effect of goal setting on group performance: a meta-analysis. J Appl Psychol. 2011 Nov;96(6):1289-304. doi: 10.1037/a0024315. Epub 2011 Jul 11. PMID: 21744940.
- Compton RJ. The Interface Between Emotion and Attention: A Review of Evidence from Psychology and Neuroscience. Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience Reviews. 2003;2(2):115-129. doi:10.1177/1534582303002002003
- Becker, L. J. (1978). Joint effect of feedback and goal setting on performance: A field study of residential energy conservation. Journal of Applied Psychology, 63(4), 428–433. https://doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.63.4.428
- Cole, S., Balcetis, E., & Zhang, S. (2013). Visual perception and regulatory conflict: Motivation and physiology influence distance perception. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 142(1), 18–22. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0027882
- Locke, E. A., Shaw, K. N., Saari, L. M., & Latham, G. P. (1981). Goal setting and task performance: 1969–1980. Psychological Bulletin, 90(1), 125–152. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.90.1.125
- Nowack, K. (2017). Facilitating successful behavior change: Beyond goal setting to goal flourishing. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 69(3), 153–171. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/cpb0000088