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.

“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. If you made it, may as well stay until the end. Just, be present. Be here. Sit with this moment. You’re here.

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.

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