It’s early in the week and early in the morning. It is close to the end of the year. It is one of those moments that naturally generates contemplation, regret, hope and many questions about what the future holds…and will it be more regret.
Sound a bit fatalistic? Maybe it is. But let’s get real for just a moment and talk about the regrets that all of us have, most of which come from our unwillingness or inability to follow through on a commitment.
If we had to list every commitment we have ever made and then note whether or not we completed those commitments, we might not be very happy with the results. Commitments by their very nature are problematic because they add something to our already busy lives. They are many times made in haste, and we spend little time counting the cost of the commitment. The biggest problem with that process is that it builds inside of us a distrust of ourselves. And when something comes along that requires commitment on a much higher level (you know what that is for you), the commitment that should create so much excitement instead creates fear and anxiety because we already think we are going to fail. Why wouldn’t we…it has happened so many times before.
Ok, let’s move past this depressing line of thinking. Commitments are in fact what build our character. Commitments become the building blocks for our personal, professional and family success. That means we MUST figure out how to consistently follow through on each commitment. Here are some thoughts to that end. They may not be terribly original, but if you struggle with commitment, you probably need to hear them again.
They say the way you eat an elephant is one bite at a time. When considering a new commitment, be sure you aren’t adding too much to your already-busy life and schedule. Take a small bite. Maybe that means implementing your new commitment in phases (e.g. removing a time-consuming social media app from your phone, not wiping your electronic profile from the face of the earth). Small steps forward towards your goal are much more beneficial than standing still, doing nothing and regretting another missed opportunity.
There are a TON of “commitments” to consider adding to your life. Some are beneficial, some are a waste of time and money. MANY are fads that someone in your neighborhood or social circle is raving about (lots of fitness and diet programs fall into this category). Way too many commitments have been made based solely on the manic excitement of another person. Their new commitment has, or so they say, “revolutionized their life.” The way they describe it, they can’t understand HOW you have lived your life thus far WITHOUT this commitment. Seriously folks, don’t fall prey to the next Pokemon Go. Make sure your commitment is something of true value to your life and not just something that is going to cost hundreds of dollars in start-up fees and equipment…all of which will end up in next summer’s garage sale.
Disclaimer: If you confuse “accountability” with a “fad”, you are already looking for a way NOT to make a commitment. Because let’s face it. You aren’t the smartest person you know. Neither is this author. The difference between accountability and fad is that you are seeking out someone who 1) is better than you at the object of your commitment and 2) is interested in your success, not just bolstering their own group of “converts”. Again, fitness and diet are the most obvious items that come to mind as falling prey to fad instead of true accountability. However, this concept it valuable for more important things including personal spiritual development, education in your field of employment and, most importantly, family relationships. Find that smarter person and dog them until they agree to help make you successful. The success percentage of fulfilling your commitment will go up dramatically.
As it the case with many foundational principles in life, this one should go without saying. However we all know that principles assumed to be foundational aren’t so much anymore. So make this your FIRST commitment: whatever commitments and goals you intend to add to your life, make ABSOLUTELY SURE that you don’t have to sacrifice family relationships to keep them. This does NOT mean you may not need to spend time away from your family while accomplishing these goals. Just make sure that your whole family understands how your new commitment will not only make YOU successful, but how it will make you a better wife / mother / husband / father / boss / co-worker / member of the community. A commitment that benefits you alone will quickly become the activity or behavior you look back on as a destructive force in your life instead of the uplifting action that positively impacted the relationships in your life.
So what commitments are you considering as this new year approaches? What is it that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt must be added to your life for you to continue achieving your goals? Consider wisely the commitments you make and make sure you have a fool-proof plan of follow through. Reclaim hope from the jaws of regret.
Make it a great new year.