At the end of our lives we will inevitably look back and consider what we achieved and whether we lived a good and full life. Over the years we may have had a sense of what direction we were heading in and what we wanted to achieve in our lives even when this might have been as simple as maintaining a happy status quo. Underpinning this we would have built up a complex set of values and ethics which governed and informed our everyday activities much like a business or organisation might formalise into a Mission Statement and Statement of Values. As a shorthand many organisations have a formal or informal slogan that they use to reflect this. For example Asda says “Every Little Counts” whilst Barnado’s is “Believe in Children”. Both of these say so much about the organisation and what is fundamental to its operation. So what slogan or motto would reflect the aims and values of your life?
There are daily posts on social media (particularly some bonkers ones by a man with a vegetable in his name) which provide slogans to live by:
“Beautify your thoughts. Thoughts are the headwaters of action, life and manifestation.” – David Avocado Wolfe (told you he was bonkers!)
“Do one thing every day that scares you” – Eleanor Roosevelt
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined” – Henry David Thoreau
Some of these are empty platitudes often written by people who don’t live by the same creed themselves urging us to strive to be better people. But maybe a bit of “do as I say, not do as I do” can still give us a kick up the bum when we need it.
“Don’t complain, there’s always someone worse off than you.”
“Stop talking and start doing.”
When we give ourselves a good talking to we often use cliches and hackneyed phrases frequently recycled from our own childhoods. When dealing with my own compulsive procrastinations I often use “oh, for goodness sake just do it” – I can hear my mother saying it long before Nike used it as a slogan.
Many years ago I discovered a quote by Howard Figler, the career counsellor, which says:
“Risk is the tariff for leaving the land of predictable misery.”
For me this was pertinent for that particular time of my life but I have relied on it ever since whenever I am apprehensive about getting out of my comfort zone or (more truly) my rut and making a change. I had it written in the front of my Filofax where it reminded me to not settle for any situation I wasn’t happy with. On one occasion it prompted me to talk to my intimidating boss about my ridiculous workload whilst in another situation it encouraged me to apply for a new job. It also helped me to find the courage to end a relationship despite the fear of ending up a lonely old lady. To this day I still keep a white feather pinned to my mirror to challenge myself to be brave especially when I don’t want to be! This motto was one that I knew could help me live a life without regrets of what could have been.
But if I was to pick a single motto for my life I think it would be something like:
“Life is a balance sheet. Being only human you will inevitably get things wrong, hurt people’s feelings and never be perfect. So make sure you are kind, loving and selfless often enough to balance out the books.”
What would be your motto or slogan and how have they helped you to make life decisions?