Committing to ourselves.
It’s so easy as women to advocate and commit to others but when it comes to doing this for ourselves – we back away.
Why is that?
I believe it’s because we are hard-wired to take care of others. We are also nurtured to do this. We are rewarded as children for doing thoughtful things for others but not for speaking up and asking for what we need or want.
We may have even had an experience where we were chastised for asking for what we needed or wanted.
When I was growing up making sacrifices for others was always acknowledged and celebrated. And it should be; it’s wonderful.
But there is something I believe must come first. There has to be a commitment to you and as much as I cringe saying this because of my conditioning, you have to come first.
If you don’t come first everything else will suffer as a consequence. Click to Tweet!
I’ve been struggling with this one. I have to be completely transparent that there is a part of me that resists commitment altogether.
I sometimes joke that it’s because I’m Sagittarius. I love my freedom too much to tie myself down to too many commitments and that it’s probably the reason why I’m single.
I make plans to meet up with friends for dinner and I’m really excited about it. Then the day comes and in the afternoon I get overwhelmed with the desire to just get into my pajamas at the end of the day and watch reruns of The West Wing.
I feel a pang of regret that I’ve made plans for the evening but my commitment and my integrity – that I’ve given my word – wins over and instead of pajamas and TV I’m with friends laughing enjoying a good meal and I don’t regret it.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not always something fun that I’ve committed to and sometimes it’s just the satisfaction that I was true to my word that rewards me for overcoming any desire to be somewhere else or do something else.
Making and keeping commitments, especially to yourself, will help you to keep moving forward in the direction of your dreams despite any short-lived cravings to play it small, play it safe and play it comfortable.
Here are some things you can do if you struggle with making and keeping commitments to yourself:
How often have you found yourself committed to something that has no real value or meaning to you. These are the times you find yourself saying, “I don’t even know why I agreed to this?”
Be very clear on what you value and what your goals are and only make commitments that are a reflection of them.
Everything else is a “no.” And if you find yourself saying “yes” when you really wanted to say “no” take a look in the mirror and uncover what it was that compelled you to say yes. This can often range from a need to be liked to avoiding conflict.
Just know that whatever compelled you, in that moment, you gave it more power than your values and your goals. Think about how you can handle that situation differently in the future so when it comes up again, and it will, you will be able to navigate it with more power and ease.
If your commitment is relevant, if it does reflect your values and goals, it will be much easier to overcome the urges to break the commitment. You can remind yourself why this commitment is important and how it will improve your life in the long-term.
I’m in a phase right now where I have gotten off-track with my workouts and I’m trying to get back to the level of fitness I was at over the summer. Over the holidays and when I was in an intense period of catching up after the holidays my workouts took a nose-dive and I knew I needed to get back into a rhythm.
Knowing this would be a struggle, I committed to - at the very least - getting 10-15 minutes of cardio in everyday to start building up my endurance again. Easy, right?
Every day there was “one more thing and one more thing” that needed to get done before I could do my workout and before I knew it there wasn’t even 10 minutes to workout. Iin fact I was running late and barely had time to take a shower and get ready before I need to race out the door.
When I took a look at the list of things that made up the “one more thing” they were all tasks that could have waited. I was just using them to procrastinate because I hated the reminder, when I was working out, that I was no longer as physically fit as I once was. I didn’t look forward to this and so was avoiding it to my own detriment.
I made a conscious effort to change my mindset and focus on what I do enjoy about my workout: it’s 10-15 minutes just for me, I get to listen to my favorite music or podcasts, I can focus on the progress I’m making, I can enjoy the endorphin rush and the feeling of satisfaction that comes when I’m done and I can check my workout off my list. It’s not hanging over my head for the rest of the day that I skipped my simple workout yet again.
Many people resist accountability because it sounds like being taken to task and is just another way to feel bad about making and breaking a commitment.
However, accountability is only meant to be a check-in and not a disciplinary hearing. It’s an opportunity to communicate the status of your commitment and make any adjustments or recommitment if necessary.
Accountability is for you and not for the other person.
Gretchen Rubin, the author of The Happiness Project and Better Than Before and co-host of the podcast Happier, talks often about the four tendencies when it comes to forming and keeping habits: upholder, questioner, obliger and rebel.
You can TAKE THE QUIZ HERE to see what your tendency is.
I’m an obliger and I’m not surprised. That means that I am motivated to make others happy. I don’t like to disappoint people so accountability works great for me.
However, if your tendency is to rebel then accountability will probably not work for you.
As an obliger I also have to be cautious of over-committing, which I do often, because overcommitting will cause stress, resentment and ultimately, backing out of commitments.
Questioners will want to know everything about the commitment before they agree to it and Upholders will resist new commitments unless they can give 100% to it because they will give 100% and then some once they’ve committed.
Know what works for you and set yourself up for success.
I had a conversation with my father one day about marriage and the long haul and getting through tough times. In his wisdom my father shared that a commitment was not something you set and forget. It takes thoughtfulness, care and nurturing.
He told me that he chooses my mother every day when he wakes up. He recommits himself to her every day.
That’s the kind of love we need to have for ourselves as well. We need to choose ourselves every day.
Every day, regardless of how you feel, you need to commit to honoring your relationship with yourself.
This is how you develop self-worth and personal power.
You are worth the commitment.