I work with a lot of people who know what they “should” do or what’s in their overall best interest; whether that concerns their mental health, physical well-being or any of their relationships.
I could give you a long list of stuff to do to lose weight, communicate better, move more or stop procrastinating. I find that most people, though, have more than enough tips, tricks, strategies and plans at their disposal to do what it is they want to do.
But what if you’re just not doing it? Why is that?
Consider this: Maybe it’s time to stop making yourself promises and step into commitment.
Some people think a promise and a commitment are the same thing, and they’re not. I’m reading a fantastic book this summer called Commit to Win, and this…this, I love:
“…a promise is the potential start of something, while a commitment is an attachment to a goal that shows up with action. If you understand this difference, you’ll be ahead of most.”
I made a promise to my husband 16 years ago this week on our wedding day. I am committed to the life we’ve created together even when it’s hard. Or boring. Or chaotic.
I like to look at it this way: Your commitment is the practice of your promise.
Your commitment to your healthier body, more fulfilling work, or a meaningful relationship is a mixture of both what you want to do and what you have to do. When both the “want to” and “have to” forces are present, commitments are strong.
When I lost nearly 40 lbs. three years ago, I started practicing my promises. I wanted to lose weight and not feel like I was in food jail or that I had to bust my ass working out to the point of pain.
And how did I make it happen?
I made a million little choices every single day that changed my brain and my life. And my body. My work. My marriage. My mothering.
I actually just wrote a list of my personal “want-tos” and “have-tos” for this post and deleted it. The way you take care of yourself and whatever you want to change or grow into can look wildly different from the way I do it.
Maybe I eat more or less sugar than you do. Or I still eat dairy. Maybe the number of times I move my body on purpose each week would look either impossible to you or like chump change.
You have to decide what it is that you want and align that with what you have to do to make that happen. When I work with my clients, we break it down into exactly what that looks like, just for them. And — this is very important — you need to know why you want the change.
For now, take the step of examining whether you’re coughing on the fumes of a promise or breathing in the expanse of your commitment.
And here’s something to use right now to shift into commitment this week:
I have followed and worked with another coach and writer named Stephanie St. Claire for over a year now. She does beautiful work in the world; it’s worth your time to check out her site.
Last month, Stephanie posted something in a private Facebook group where I’m a participant and what she said really impacted the way I look at my own commitments. Maybe this will help you, as well:
Emotional voting. Don’t do it.
Whatever it is that you’re committed to doing for the week that is serving you to make changes or achieve a goal, don’t get into a mental space of emotionally voting on whether you feel like doing it or not.
You can usually tell this is happening when you’re weighing ideas like this:
- Maybe I’m too tired.
- Maybe later.
- This really won’t make a difference anyway.
- The people I work with are assholes and nothing will ever change.
- He / She always reacts that way, so why should I change anything?
- It’s too late.
- Too crowded.
- Just this once.
You owe it to yourself to shut that shit down. Do what it takes to make it non-negotiable. I put things that are that important to the way I want to live on my calendar, just like I do my clients or appointments connected to my husband or kids.
And give yourself time to let your perceptions shift. Be patient with yourself.
Your commitment isn’t a destination or an arrival — it’s the unfolding of your life.