The term “motto” has become something of a cliché. It sounds a little cheesy, no? Makes me think of bad sales pitches and insincere catch phrases, flashy on the outside but utterly devoid of meaning.
Well, no more. I’m reclaiming “motto,” dusting it off, and bringing back its power.
See, a motto’s not just a couple of words that sound good together. And it’s not just for companies and organizations. Look it up and you’ll find a motto serves as a “guiding principle” expressing “spirit or purpose” for groups but also for individuals. Guiding principles? Expressions of spirit and purpose? All on a personal level? Heck yeah! I decided I needed a motto of my own.
It’s a big undertaking, though, to distill the very principles guiding your purpose and spirit into a snappy little phrase that inspires you. I spent some time reflecting, playing with phrases, tinkering until I had it just right.
I’ve had my motto for a couple of weeks now. It fits me like a glove — which is sort of the point, after all. It wraps up my goals, my values, and what I aspire to stand for into one convenient, easy-to-carry, three-word packet. This perfect motto I’ve crafted for myself?
It’s “remade by hand,” of course.
Why did I choose this particular configuration of vowels, consonants, and punctuation? Let’s dissect the phrase and then build the meaning back up.
Part 1: re + made
make: “to bring into existence by shaping or changing material, combining parts, etc.”; “to produce; cause to exist or happen; bring about”; “to cause to be or become; render”
re: “‘again’, or ‘again and again’”
Combine the two, and you get remake: “to make again or anew.” To make again: to take something that already exists and use it to craft something else.
I love that nod to what already exists. You need not throw out the old to remake something. In fact, without a something to start from, you’d only be making. To remake requires a thing you wish to make anew.
What might I wish to make anew? Anything, really: hobbies, habits, attitudes, mental processes, actions, things. My motto reminds me that I can take myself, as I am in this moment, and transform any part I might choose. I could remake myself from a non-photographer into a photographer. From a pessimist into an optimist. From someone who rushes through life into a more mindful and present person. From who I am today into whatever I desire to be.
And it doesn’t stop there. I can remake my physical environment, my body, my relationships with others — anything at all.
Of course, this is no magical process. It takes work, effort, and focus. But what “remade” reminds me is that each moment is an opportunity.
Part 2: by hand
by hand: “by using the hands, as opposed to machines”
That’s the dictionary meaning of my motto’s second half. But “by hand” means much more to me than its literal definition covers.
“By hand” has a plethora of positive connotations. It implies an investment of time and care. It involves mindfulness and consciousness as opposed to automaticity or mechanization. It produces something unique, personal, and deliberate. It provides the how for the process of remaking.
Put it all together and these three little words embody the new outlook I’m striving to embrace: that I can consciously, mindfully create anew any facet of my life so that it better reflects the self I choose to be. That this journey is my own; that I am taking it on purpose, with deliberate steps; that I need not discard my past or present self in order to make it.
It feels so invigorating to wrap myself in my new motto. From where I stand, the road ahead is thrilling. I can’t wait to see where it will take me.
Do you have a personal philosophy? Have you ever considered creating a motto for yourself?