Honoring Commitments to Yourself
We are about eight weeks from making our New Year’s resolutions, choosing our words for the year, or thinking about how life could be different this year. Scientific studies have shown it takes six weeks to create a new habit. The key to making a sustainable change in your life is to be disciplined enough to practice the change every day for those six weeks.
How are you doing on honoring the commitment to yourself? I bet you have had struggles over the last six weeks. You may have even made mistakes and gotten off track. Some of you may have already given up and decided it is too hard. I have good news – there is still hope.
We do not need a holiday or a specific date on a calendar to re-start the change you are after. You can start right now. And this time you have the information to keep yourself on track. You can develop a plan to keep that commitment to yourself.
Is it Important?
This is often raised as knowing your why. This is a way of drawing your mind back to the reason you wanted to start this change. I would like to challenge you beyond that way of thinking. Is this change still important? Our lives are not static. The reason we had for this change a couple of months ago may no longer be relevant. At the same time there could be additional reasons coming to light making this change even more important. If your plan has gone off track, pause and ask yourself if this change is still important.
You can explore this changes level of importance through a few minutes alone to do some self-talk. You can grab a journal and write your way through this exploration; make a list of why this change is important or what has changed making it no longer the right focus. Your method of exploration is up to you. I do recommend that once you have decided that this change is important you put the following in a place you can see it every day for the next six weeks.
It is important that I _______________________ (list your goal) by _____________ (put the date six weeks from today) because this will allow me to ___________________________ (use as much space as you need to list EVERY reason this is important).
Did you justify poor decisions?
Some of us are better at this than others. This is not a skill worth developing. These statements may include phrases like; “I deserve this.,” “I have to have some fun.,” “I cannot be perfect all the time.,” “I’ll just do it this one time.”. There are many more that a person can use to justify making poor decisions. At the end of the day the only statement that really matters; “This decision will or will NOT help me keep my commitment to myself.” When you make poor decisions the only person you harm every time is yourself. Justifying poor decisions breaks the trust and confidence you have in yourself.
So, what do you do if you have broken this commitment or have a habit of justifying poor decisions? I recommend starting to rebuild trust and confidence with yourself slowly with small decisions. The more you practice the more muscle memory you will build making it easier when the real temptation arises. Think of a small temptation that could lead to a poor decision. Put yourself in front of that temptation. Talk yourself through making a good decision. Acknowledge and praise yourself for not giving into the temptation. Yes, you will feel silly. Yes, that is okay. Do this for just five minutes. Tomorrow, add another and slightly bigger temptation and do the self-talk with praise for ten minutes. It can help to do this in front of your importance statement. The more conscious practice you do the better you will be at rewiring your brain to make good decisions.
Did you get tired?
Change can be exhausting making it hard to retain your Give A Darn. Even if you agree that your change is important, if you are tired it is hard to care. You can get physically tired and feel like you need to sleep more. You can get mentally tired and feel like you just cannot convince yourself to take the necessary next steps toward change. You can get emotional tired and feel that your heart is raw or exposed. You can get spiritually tired and feel lost. It is important to nourish all aspects of yourself when trying to change.
Physical – Make sure you are getting 8 – 10 hours of sleep a night. Understandably this may be a challenge. Having a set bedtime and wakeup routine will make the sleep process easier. This is another way to rebuild that trust with yourself about honoring commitments.
Mental – Be conscious which activities leading you to change drain you and which activities energize you. Try pairing a draining activity with an energizing one. This will help you keep balance as you grow.
Emotional – Be patient and kind with your emotions. When you have a strong feeling through the growth process take the time to acknowledge it. Be curious about where the feeling comes from and why you may be feeling this way. Be kind to yourself and use encouraging thoughts to guide yourself through negative feelings to reach a healthy mindset.
Spiritual – This starts with understanding that there is a force in this world bigger than you. Having faith in a Supreme Being can be a reliable source of strength. A connection to nature can also feed your soul. Tap into your source of spirituality every day. Taking time to meditate and pray is a powerful addition to your bedtime and wakeup routine.
Did you sabotage yourself?
Part of the human condition is to make things harder than they need to be. For some this comes from feeling unworthy of success. For some it may be a fear of success. It can also come from imposter syndrome where you feel like you are faking it to the point this new you could never be reality. The result is the same – Self Sabotage. Looking back over the last couple of months have you done things that you knew what set you up to fail?
Overcoming this behavior starts with acknowledging your role in the moment you went off track. Taking accountability for your actions allows you to take back the power of that moment. Consider what you could have done differently to prevent the situation from taking you off track. The next step is to humbly accept that you are worthy of good things. You may be making it until you make it but the more you build the new habits you will Make It! Creating your own self affirmation can help you guide your thoughts back to a place of growth in these sabotage moments. Here are some examples to consider.
"I am worthy of good choices.”
“I am becoming the person I want to be.”
“I am in control of my response.”
“I have the power.”
Did you run out of time?
Time is one of the biggest excuses used to prevent change. “I’m too busy.” “I have too much going on.” We know the statements. At the end of the day your actions show that the other activities you did that day were more important that honoring the commitment you made to yourself to change. There are times where this is true, medical emergencies, family situations, work crisis. Take time now to consider if the moments you ran out of time were more important than your commitment to change.
I do not prescribe to the school of Time Management. I look at time as a resource just like money – it needs a budget. If you are struggling to find the time to change you should read through, How Do You Spend Your Time? (plenitudeco.com). Schedule the necessary activities and make that sacred time for yourself.
You know this change is important. Your energy can be replenished and sustained. You are worthy of good choices. You do have the power to create a new life for yourself Make the time for change sacred.