Living with Vitality column: Stay committed by knowing what drives you
Often times when we hear the word “commitment,” we think of commitment to other people. By being committed, you’re making a promise to someone or something outside yourself. Committing to a relationship, for example, or a scheduled event.
In keeping the commitment, you show others they can rely on you and that you can be trusted. In breaking the commitment, your actions encourage doubt, and human nature is such that we begin to question reliability, even at the slightest disappointment.
But the real question is why does it create so much suffering when we stray?
Breaking promises to yourself
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One of the biggest disappointments we experience in life is when we don’t do what we say we’re going to do — especially when it comes to our health. Whether it be sticking to a healthy eating program or creating time in our schedules for self-care, there is a unique set of let-downs when we compromise our physical, mental and emotional well-being.
Here’s why. When you break a personal agreement with yourself, you sever the internal thread that binds you to personal integrity. To break with your own integrity means breaking with the essential part of you that knows abundance, prosperity, connection, love, joy and accomplishment.
Without that connection, you move through life in self-doubt, blame and possibly anger. These are all challenges that come up when you feel you’re not getting what you want.
Taking care of yourself
When you stay committed and keep agreements with yourself and others, your life changes. Even by committing to a simple daily health habit, like eating breakfast, drinking water or eating more produce, you naturally tap into the flow of personal choice that leads you to greater actions. How you show up in the world will also help you attract commitment-oriented people, whether a coach, partner or friends. You’ll have a new radar for those who also like to stay committed.
The following is an exercise that will start to build your commitment muscle:
1. Write something down that you’re committed to. This can be a goal that’s already in motion or something you’ve just created (example: I’m committed to losing 20 pounds.).
2. Write down what you see as the result of that commitment. It can be a singular result or a list of 2-3 things. If you list too many, that gets overwhelming, and your list becomes the obstacle to your success. (Example: When I lose 20 pounds, I will feel more confident and I’ll set a great example for my children).
3. Finally, write down what the results will bring forth in your life and the lives of others. These can be many, and think big. (Example: When I feel more confident, I’ll want to complete that triathlon that I’ve been talking about, and I’ll be on the road to health so that I can be around for my grandchildren).
Do you see how this exercise takes you beyond the 20 pounds and into a bigger payoff that touches people’s lives? Once you go through this exercise, you’ll find that staying committed to your health routine becomes more about what drives you with passion and excitement.
Don’t commit to everything
Here’s another lesson. It’s okay not to commit to everything. In fact, it’s best to discern which things are worthy of your commitment. If you decide not to commit, then you can say with integrity, “no thank you.” The moment you say “yes,” the stamp of integrity is in place. This can be useful once you feel the need to break the commitment. When this happens, and it will, refer back to the exercise above and remember the bigger purpose.
Julie Hammerstein is a certified nutritionist and one of the country’s leading health and weight-loss experts. She is a sought after coach and speaker, author of “Fat is Not a Four-Letter Word” and director of The Source for Weight Loss. She is also the expert nutritionist on The Colorado Everyday Show. To learn more about Hammerstein and her programs, visit http://www.juliehammerstein.com.