Commitment is more of a skill or a practice than an innate ability. The question isn’t really can I commit to this? But more do I know how? This is a great time to think about commitment. We are a month and a half into the new year and most of you have either made your New Years resolutions or dare I say, already given up on them. It’s easy to make resolutions, keeping them is another exercise entirely.
The skill of commitment has to do with practicing both determination and flexibility. One of the biggest problems with New Years resolutions is that people set a goal, such as I am going to go to the gym 5 times a week, then they do that for 2 weeks. Then during the following month we begin to realize that going to the gym 5 times a week is near to impossible with work, kids etc. Then we usually blame ourselves, feel really bad and as a result give up on our goal.
It is precisely at the point that we feel like giving up on our goal that we need to persevere. This is when we need to apply our determination and flexibility. Be realistic. Rework your goal. Go to the gym twice a week. Achieve that first. Check in with yourself about your desire. Many people commit to do things that they do not like. This usually doesn’t work. Feeling good is important. Play around with what you might like if you aren’t sure. Do not force yourself to do something you do not enjoy or that commitment will be hard to sustain. I recently heard a statistic that at one of the gyms in NYC has 70% of their members attend the gym 4 or less times in a year. If you don’t like the gym try working out outside. Make sure you are properly prepared for the weather and then go take a walk, hike or a run. Being outside in the light is very important for our vitamin D and our well being. Try Yoga, or Salsa. Try something you have always wanted to do that involves exercise.
Look at the numbers. Keep the number doable. This enables you to meet your goal which builds your confidence. You can always exceed your goal. Perhaps focus on 3 resolutions rather than 10.
Be celebratory about what you might consider very small achievements within your goal. Being mean towards yourself when you don’t achieve your goal in the way that you originally envisioned it does not bring you closer to achieving it. In fact, being hard on ourselves is probably one of the main reasons we eventually give up on our goals.
Don’t say I am going to try this. Truly commit to achieving your goal but promise yourself that you will be flexible within that goal. When you make a commitment to this goal but you are often making a commitment to a lifestyle shift. Change takes time. So there will be times when you are too sick to go to the gym but you can manage a short walk. Sometimes you will be too sick for that as well. Taking care of yourself is listening with a fine tuned ear to what you and your body need. Sometimes what you need is rest. This can also be the time that people give up. So if you are sick, perhaps set a time and date for the next time you will exercise. The act of staying fit translates into trusting your own judgement and in time, you will come to trust your commitment. Eventually it will become a part of the way you live. Which when you realize you have truly achieved your goal.
Good luck! If you have any questions please post them as comments.