What's your go-to SHORT inspirational/motivational phrase?
February 5, 2017 7:48 AM   Subscribe

There's a great AskMe about inspirational quotes, essays, etc., but I'm wondering if you have a specific short, like 12 words or less, "go forth and conquer" thing you say to yourself when you need an internal kick in the pants, shot of confidence or to ground yourself before a challenge.

My two examples of go-to pithy sayings I use to either motivate or ground myself:

"Kill the bear!" which is kind of an internal shorthand for the oft-repeated "What one man can do, another can do" phrase in the Mamet-written movie The Edge; used when I need to remind myself that while something may seem difficult, other people have done it, and therefore I must be able to do it.

"No matter where you go, there you are," from The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, which has been surprisingly useful for me when I need to calm down and ground myself over the past 30 years.

What do you say to yourself, in 12 words or less, when you need a quick mental kick in the pants?
posted by Shepherd to Grab Bag (109 answers total) 81 users marked this as a favorite
 
Not really a quote, but "what would future Purenitrous wish I had done today?" Usually the answer is just done the task in front of me-folded that laundry, gone for that walk, finished that task, stepped away from that donut.
posted by purenitrous at 7:53 AM on February 5, 2017 [7 favorites]


Indicative of my redneck roots:
"get 'er dun!"
posted by elke_wood at 7:53 AM on February 5, 2017 [2 favorites]


Expect nothing; prepare for anything.

Sometimes you're the fox, sometimes you're the hedgehog.

Those are both my original words, but I also have this quotation of Antoine de St. Exupery's stuck to my monitor: "What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step. It is always the same step, but you have to take it."
posted by tully_monster at 8:03 AM on February 5, 2017 [8 favorites]


When facing an challenge, "There's no way to it, but through it".
posted by kimdog at 8:03 AM on February 5, 2017 [2 favorites]


Have I done things today that James Baldwin would be proud of?
posted by PinkMoose at 8:03 AM on February 5, 2017 [3 favorites]


"Everything is FINE" (via Watch & Play). Best used when it's immediately obvious that things are far from being fine.
posted by sourcequench at 8:06 AM on February 5, 2017 [1 favorite]


Don't die wondering
posted by NoRelationToLea at 8:09 AM on February 5, 2017 [1 favorite]


"Make it happen." I started saying it as a joke, but it's kind of effective.
posted by kevinbelt at 8:16 AM on February 5, 2017 [1 favorite]


"Don't just do something; stand there." Reminds me that sometimes refraining from action, at least for a while, is more valuable than running hither and thither in a panic.
posted by mmw at 8:18 AM on February 5, 2017


Don't Postpone Joy.
posted by pjsky at 8:28 AM on February 5, 2017 [3 favorites]


"Make a dent." This was always my mom's advice when I was having trouble starting homework, and I still use it when I'm feeling balky or unsure about a project and just need to get started.
posted by fussbudget at 8:30 AM on February 5, 2017 [30 favorites]


Some of these that I use are:
    Doing gets it done (when I need to just start on a task that I'm putting off or avoiding)
      Adapt, improvise, overcome (from a coworker who was a former US Marine)
        Comparison is the thief of joy (said to myself when I feel that what I'm doing could never be as good as what someone else is doing)
      Longer than what you're asking for, but I use two Pterry quotes on a regular basis when I need to refocus after a setback or remind myself of why I'm in the middle of something:

      "There isn't a way things should be. There's just what happens and what we do." - Miss Level, A Hat Full of Sky (to ground myself and refocus after a setback)

      “If you trust in yourself
      ....and believe in your dreams
      ....and follow your star
      ....you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy.”
      ― Miss Tick, The Wee Free Men (this one got me through my second attempt at college while also working full-time)

posted by ralan at 8:33 AM on February 5, 2017 [6 favorites]


I am the Master of my Fate; I am the Captain of my Soul.

(14 words but I'm a fast talker.)
posted by kimberussell at 8:38 AM on February 5, 2017 [3 favorites]


My mantra for the year is "I am strong and getting stronger".

My first boss, decades ago, used to say "Go forth and do good things" at the end of meetings. I always liked that.
posted by Elly Vortex at 8:43 AM on February 5, 2017 [2 favorites]


I use "get 'er done" fairly often. And when I'm mid-physical-struggle, my personal mantra is "what hill have you climbed today?" Sub climb for run/ski/push/etc. and hill for whatever you're facing.
posted by scrubjay at 8:46 AM on February 5, 2017


I'm embarrassed because this is a Sheryl Sandberg motivational bumper sticker, but I actually love "What would you do if you weren't afraid?". It can be very clarifying in life's confusing moments.
posted by lieber hair at 8:50 AM on February 5, 2017 [7 favorites]


"This is going to suck, but so what?"
posted by bile and syntax at 8:50 AM on February 5, 2017


I also use "let's get 'er done" often, along with "go baby go!" when it's a physical activity; when it's more of a mental block, "take the first step!" works, and courtesy of Hamilton "write day and night like it's going out of style" is an inspirational sign on my desk now.
posted by TwoStride at 8:51 AM on February 5, 2017


The thing isn't going to do itself.
posted by lakeroon at 8:55 AM on February 5, 2017


Dreaming is free.
posted by tomboko at 9:10 AM on February 5, 2017


I'm very fond of Diana Nyad's motto: Find a way!
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:19 AM on February 5, 2017


"It's better to be proactive than reactive" - often shortened to "proactive, not reactive".
posted by VioletU at 9:20 AM on February 5, 2017


I say "The only way out is through!" and "If this stuff was easy they wouldn't pay us so much!" and "in every problem, an opportunity!". A tiny friend of mine when faced with scary things stares them down and shouts "I CAN DO THIS!!".
posted by emilyw at 9:29 AM on February 5, 2017


Motivational quotes, sorted by length, stopped arbitrarily there:
  • FUCK yeah!
  • False wall.
  • I'm Batman.
  • Be like water.
  • A heart at peace.
  • Action kills fear.
  • Real artists ship.
  • This too shall pass.
  • Fake it 'til you make it.
  • Gotta be in it to win it.
  • Do the fucking experiment.
  • Every day is just one day.
  • Don't forget to be AWESOME.
  • Pause, consider, then commit.
  • What would you-as-Superman do?
  • It takes grinding to be a king.
  • What would Samuel L. Jackson do?
  • Everything's going to be all right.
  • When going through hell, keep going.
  • The future starts today, not tomorrow.
  • You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.
  • A life lived in fear is a life half-lived.
  • Just keep swimming, just keep swimming ...

posted by WCityMike at 9:31 AM on February 5, 2017 [2 favorites]


"A vision and a task is the hope of the world."

(a bit less inspirational without the slightly longer context, which is: " A vision without a task is but a dream; a task without a vision is drudgery; a vision and a task is the hope of the world.")

Also a fan of the "I am a tiny cactus" meme for its absurdity.
posted by brentajones at 9:33 AM on February 5, 2017 [6 favorites]


"God grant me patience. Right now."
posted by BadgerDoctor at 9:33 AM on February 5, 2017


"Carpe motherfuckin' diem."

"Die historic."

And, for when I procrastinate due to perfectionism:
"If it's worth doing, it's worth doing badly."
posted by Pallas Athena at 9:33 AM on February 5, 2017


Perfect is the enemy of done.

Get up, Trinity. GET UP.
posted by meronym at 9:36 AM on February 5, 2017 [6 favorites]


"I'm here because I chose to be here"
"Expect the best, prepare for the worst"
posted by Valancy Rachel at 9:50 AM on February 5, 2017


Leap and the net will appear.
posted by DingoMutt at 9:55 AM on February 5, 2017


In the immortal words of INXS:

Sometimes you kick, sometimes you get kicked.
posted by diffuse at 9:59 AM on February 5, 2017


If you're going through hell, keep going. (Often but incorrectly attributed to Churchill.)
posted by cogitron at 10:00 AM on February 5, 2017 [5 favorites]


"Traveler, there is no path. The path is made by walking." - Antonio Machado
posted by sestaaak at 10:01 AM on February 5, 2017 [20 favorites]


Failure is always an option.

Might as well start somewhere.

You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.
posted by fedward at 10:01 AM on February 5, 2017


"Finish the quartet."

It will only make sense if you've seen Yellow Submarine, but you should. In sum: play out the song to the end.
posted by Countess Elena at 10:56 AM on February 5, 2017 [1 favorite]


I like Deadpool's "Maximum effort!".
posted by EndsOfInvention at 10:57 AM on February 5, 2017


How bad do you want to be good; do you want to be good real bad?

What we had we gave, what we kept is lost forever.
posted by AugustWest at 11:16 AM on February 5, 2017 [1 favorite]


Some of the phrases from this previously may help. I read that AskMe often when I need to be motivated to keep going.
posted by chainsofreedom at 11:45 AM on February 5, 2017


Also from Hamilton: "I am the one thing in life I can control".
posted by nakedmolerats at 12:16 PM on February 5, 2017 [3 favorites]


You don't have to be willing but you have to be ready. (12)
posted by lois1950 at 12:17 PM on February 5, 2017


"I chose my complicated self" , a line from a memoir by writer Joanna Brooks
posted by janepanic at 12:45 PM on February 5, 2017 [1 favorite]


Chop wood, carry water. (Short version of the Zen proverb "Before Enlightenment: chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment: chop wood, carry water.")
posted by holborne at 12:48 PM on February 5, 2017 [10 favorites]


"Up and at 'em, atom ant", sometimes in conjunction with singing "oops, there goes another rubber tree plant" (Sinatra High Hopes). Because ants are amazing.

This thing ain't gonna do itself

Sometimes I get to "somebody's gotta do it. I am somebody."
posted by jlkr at 12:49 PM on February 5, 2017


I've had a lot of success reframing my thoughts from thinking of problems as opportunities. So instead to thinking, "Ugh; here's a thing that I need to fix," I reframe issues into, "Here's a chance to learn and grow -- awesome!"
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 1:00 PM on February 5, 2017


Just keep swimming...

Be the you you want to be. (I often imagine/wish I were better/more productive/etc. I've been trying to work on being the better version of me that's in my imagination.)
posted by Weeping_angel at 1:26 PM on February 5, 2017 [1 favorite]


There's no such thing in the world as the right decision -- Jesus Jones
posted by xris at 1:41 PM on February 5, 2017


"Sometimes you just have to put on lip gloss and pretend to be psyched."
Mindy Kaling

(I'm looking at you, team-building luau lunch...)
posted by jrobin276 at 1:44 PM on February 5, 2017 [2 favorites]


Bash on regardless. I also got "I encompass and I eclipse" from Bad Lip Reading, and I don't know what it means but it's gotten me through some rough times.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:46 PM on February 5, 2017 [1 favorite]


Don't dream it, be it.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:47 PM on February 5, 2017 [2 favorites]


"[What will I do to] Make reality better."

And from Terry Pratchett, "Everything is a test."
posted by heatherlogan at 2:55 PM on February 5, 2017


Girls gotta eat
posted by sconbie at 3:08 PM on February 5, 2017 [1 favorite]


Just show up.
posted by mcbeth at 3:09 PM on February 5, 2017


"One bite at a time", referring to the question "How do you eat an elephant?". It helps me get through tasks that seem insurmountable at the time.
posted by Nyx at 3:49 PM on February 5, 2017 [1 favorite]


Nothing real is ever ideal. (When procrastinating due to perfectionism.)
And vice versa. (Mostly when dealing with know-it-alls who always seem to have a better way or another excuse for inaction/over-analysis.)

This, too, shall pass.

The glass is already broken.

Just do it! (I know, I know.)
posted by rpfields at 4:02 PM on February 5, 2017


Remove the obstacle.

This is only a test.

You always get a second chance to make a first impression.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 4:10 PM on February 5, 2017


The obstacle is the path.
posted by you must supply a verb at 4:15 PM on February 5, 2017 [2 favorites]


All Bleeding Stops Eventually
  (look, I know, but this one really works for me. srsly.)

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro
posted by scruss at 4:17 PM on February 5, 2017 [1 favorite]


"I am the architect of my dessssstiny!" (must be sung in a Gilbert and Sullivan voice)
posted by bricoleur at 4:36 PM on February 5, 2017


From the mother of one of the authors of What They Don't Teach You at Film School: Geniuses finish things.

Also, not really words, but I tend to benefit from remembering how much I have accomplished by cultivating the ability to be too stupid to know I was dead/how shite something I was doing was/that I would fail. Something along the lines of the bit in The Phantom Tollbooth where they told Milo that they hadn't told him before he started to Do A Thing that the thing was impossible, because then he wouldn't have bothered even to try. So I try to thwart my accurate pessimist self and argue for the pragmatic benefits of being too stupid to know that what I'm doing will fail/is pointless/etc.

See also "I may fail, but I didn't quit," "You don't have to like it, you just have to do it," and "It doesn't have to be good, it just has to be done," dan le sac Vs Scroobius Pip reffing Billy Bragg, "The system may fail you, but don't fail yourself (get better)," and of course "JFDI".
posted by you must supply a verb at 4:50 PM on February 5, 2017 [1 favorite]


I have a friend who is a philosophy professor. On his business cards, it reads "X, Philosopher. Personal Philosophy: Nothing To It But To Do It."
posted by daisystomper at 4:57 PM on February 5, 2017


"Do it now because something always comes up later."

Helps with my tendency to put off things I want to defer till later became I really just don't feel like doing it now.
posted by mightshould at 5:04 PM on February 5, 2017 [1 favorite]


"Work that acre"

We're all stewards of an acre of this world, a little square of space where we can plant and nourish and harvest something good. It's work, and it may not seen very big, but we can do it.
posted by Caxton1476 at 5:36 PM on February 5, 2017 [5 favorites]


"Get up."

This works for me!
posted by BostonTerrier at 5:47 PM on February 5, 2017


Said to myself and friends (and my friends have admitted that they now say it to themselves) , "I believe in you, killa!"
posted by zem at 5:59 PM on February 5, 2017


Before running a big race, I think of a quote from Haruki Murakami: "Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional."
posted by barnoley at 6:07 PM on February 5, 2017 [3 favorites]


If you're going through hell, keep going.

I also, when I feel like I need to show up and dominate and WIN, but I feel a little intimidated I ask myself, "What would Serena Williams do?" WWSWD has gotten me through a lot. This may not work as well if you don't love Serena in the way that I do.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 6:34 PM on February 5, 2017 [1 favorite]


[when tempted to check Twitter]

"No! I am a new man! By the witness of the martyrs—by the Passion and the Blood—"

("I am a new man" actually works for me, even though I am neither new nor a man.)
posted by glass origami robot at 6:56 PM on February 5, 2017 [2 favorites]


Feel the fear, and do it anyway!
posted by yearly at 6:58 PM on February 5, 2017


I am so incredibly surprised nobody has cited this quote by Randy Pausch:

"The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”
posted by forthright at 7:13 PM on February 5, 2017 [1 favorite]


Oh, and you might want to look at the Cult of Done Manifesto.
posted by forthright at 7:21 PM on February 5, 2017


semper ubi sub ubi
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:48 PM on February 5, 2017


If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 7:49 PM on February 5, 2017 [2 favorites]


The reason no one cited the Randy Pausch quote is that the OP specifically asked for phrases that were 12 words or less.
posted by holborne at 8:56 PM on February 5, 2017


"Let them tell you no." My father's expression, which I've explained a few times before on MeFi, most recently here.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 9:02 PM on February 5, 2017 [1 favorite]


if you're not making mistakes, then you're not doing anything.
-John Wooden paraphrasing Ward Lambert
Work as if you were in the early days of a better nation.
-Alasdair Gray
posted by zamboni at 9:28 PM on February 5, 2017


Pragmatic, made it myself:

"Hardest first, longest next, heaviest then, easiest last."

You have limited amounts of energy for anything, but get a boost from finishing difficult tasks that can carry you through to the next, assuming you don't take on anything beyond your capabilities.
posted by aspersioncast at 11:30 PM on February 5, 2017 [3 favorites]


My dear friend lived in China for many years, and a good piece of slang is: add oil! It's a note of encouragement and motivation. Add oil!!
posted by missmary6 at 12:15 AM on February 6, 2017 [3 favorites]


Regarding "add oil": yep, the phrase is "jia you," which literally means "add oil/gas," and which I would translate to "keep it up" or "keep going." As a Chinese speaker I don't usually think about the "oil" meaning when using that phrase :-)
posted by glass origami robot at 12:34 AM on February 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


Apologies to all for missing 12 word limitation...palm to forehead squared!
posted by forthright at 3:20 AM on February 6, 2017


"Do the scary thing first, and get scared later." — Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler), When Did You See Her Last?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:01 AM on February 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


"Yippie kay yay, motherfucker."
posted by coppermoss at 4:05 AM on February 6, 2017


Hey! Ho! Let's go!

And, also from Buckaroo Bonzai!

Where are we going?
Planet Ten!
When?
Real soon!
posted by Gotanda at 5:34 AM on February 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


"suffer the pain of discipline or suffer the pain of regret"
posted by lalochezia at 5:57 AM on February 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


When I'm feeling too hard on myself, I repeat "confident and competent" to reframe my thinking.
posted by SeedStitch at 6:34 AM on February 6, 2017


Also "bad time, good story" (imagine yourself having done/survived the thing and making your friends laugh at your tale of woe).
posted by rpfields at 7:47 AM on February 6, 2017 [4 favorites]


"No one is indispensable or irreplaceable; strive to become invaluable, instead ."

"You hold the key."

"Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more..."

When all else fails? "DO THE THING. AFTERWARDS, CAKE!!" Ahem. :D
posted by Amor Bellator at 9:16 AM on February 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


From Clue: "What the hell; I've lived a good life."
From Galaxy Quest: "By Grabthar's Hammer!"
posted by DrAstroZoom at 11:53 AM on February 6, 2017


"Fuck this noise."

"What would an over-confident ambitious white guy do in this situation?" (inspired by reports / research such as 1, 2, 3 ; I am an under-confident white lady academic)

" [...] nobody tells you the phoenix is born as a tender, featherless baby bird." - Jess Zimmerman

"Hold On Pain Ends."

"The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain." - Khalil Gibran
posted by thetarium at 11:57 AM on February 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


Eighty percent of success is showing up.

Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.

There are no aesthetic emergencies.

Every day is a beautiful day.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 12:38 PM on February 6, 2017


"Okay, kid, this [noun]'s not gonna [verb] itself."

I'm also a big fan of "sic transit gloria mundi," to remind myself that there's not much in this world that's so important that it's worth making myself or others sick with stress over it.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:01 PM on February 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


"Let it go. Be here now."

I used to use this as a meditation mantra. Exhale on 1st phrase, inhale on 2nd.

Inspired long, long ago by the book, "Be Here Now", by Baba Ram Das.
posted by qurlyjoe at 2:33 PM on February 6, 2017


I forgot "Whip it! Whip it good!"--my husband's mantra during long, tedious home-improvement projects. To this day I sorely regret that I don't have video of him tunelessly singing along with Devo with his headphones on while sanding wallpaper glue off the drywall in our living room--it's hilarious--but he certainly whipped it good.

These days his favorite motivational track is Deadmau5's My Pet Coelacanth--the lyrics are simple, but I wouldn't advise repeating them over and over in public, though.
posted by tully_monster at 8:46 PM on February 6, 2017


Life is the greatest challenge; living is the greatest accomplishment.

This, too, shall pass.

This is my life now. What's next?

One bite at a time. (As in, how does one eat an elephant?)

You can do anything for 15 minutes.
posted by The Almighty Mommy Goddess at 3:52 AM on February 7, 2017


Recently.

Sometimes I imagine that puppy meme and think to myself "YOU GOT DIS."
posted by athirstforsalt at 5:00 AM on February 7, 2017


Also, for people pleasers: "you can't please everyone, you're not a cheese pizza."
posted by athirstforsalt at 5:01 AM on February 7, 2017


"Might as well. Too windy to haul gravel."

Or:

"Be like a beaver and get the dam thing done."
posted by bryon at 6:05 AM on February 7, 2017


On a super nerdy note, in one Star Trek next gen Captain Picard says "There's a solution to every puzzle, a way out of every box, it's only a matter of finding it". OK, it's a little more than 12 words, but it always motivates me when I feel stuck.
posted by Wanderwhale at 1:09 PM on February 7, 2017


Hard is healthy. Because I would lounge around surfing the interwebs nonstop if I could. It's based on this article claiming that hard work, either physical or mental, helps keep your brain sharp as you age.)

Just start. My brain likes to convince me that I need many stretches of empty hours to start and complete a project--and that's simply not true. "Just start" came from one of the zillions of books I have read on procrastination. Reframing work on a project as a series of "starts" rather than a huge enormous big deal has been useful to me.

Awareness, Acceptance, Action. This Al-Anon slogan reminds me that accepting the reality of a situation that I don't like--accepting what is--is important to do before making an important decision or taking action.
posted by Bella Donna at 1:52 PM on February 7, 2017 [1 favorite]


"Feeling guilty for not doing it is worse than just doing it."
posted by a fish out of water at 2:29 PM on February 7, 2017 [3 favorites]


Thanks for all of these so far! Highly arbitrary best answers based entirely on personal resonance.
posted by Shepherd at 4:19 AM on February 8, 2017


"Fulfill your potential."
posted by lucyleaf at 12:08 PM on February 8, 2017


"Everything you want is on the other side of fear."
posted by désoeuvrée at 5:53 PM on February 8, 2017 [3 favorites]


"Bad times are tough but not tougher than me" has been in my head since the King Falls AM Christmas Episode.
posted by beandip at 8:17 AM on February 9, 2017


"Anything for an interesting life..." Keeps me open to doing something new or slightly intimidating where I might otherwise be inclined to skip it due to timidity/tiredness/laziness/etc.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:05 PM on February 9, 2017 [1 favorite]


"You can lead a horse to water, but never eat anything bigger than your head."
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:24 PM on February 9, 2017


Sufficient is the evil unto the day.
I just like the fancy pants way it sounds to remind me to stay present, that there's quite enough suffering to go around without me creating more with my ten thousand thoughts about it and I should just do whatever it is.

Also: Acknowledge, moisturize, and move on.
posted by eggkeeper at 10:06 PM on February 11, 2017


Rage, pflage agains the flurmling of the smotato!
posted by Joseph Gurl at 2:23 AM on February 12, 2017


Hmm. Dropsy, vapors and the heartbreak of psoriasis. [Clickety] Ah well, it's been a good run.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 12:59 AM on March 3, 2017


A mistake and a bad decision are not the same thing.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 1:02 AM on March 3, 2017


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