Commitment means staying loyal to what you said you were going to do, long after the mood you said it in has left you. This is a quote that was shared with me today that seemed a bit confusing at first, but is so powerful when you think about the actual meaning. Our moods change from one minute to the next and sometimes we throw out a promise to ourselves or to others that we have completely forgotten about by the next morning.
All throughout our lives, especially on New Year’s Day, we promise ourselves or our family to make a much needed change in our lives, such as to eat healthier, exercise more, quit smoking, quit drinking, look for a job that has more promise, or put more effort into our relationships with our spouses, co-workers and friends. Days later, that commitment is down the drain, totally forgotten about until the next New Year’s Day rolls around.
What makes it so hard to commit?
1) Commitment can put your freedom at risk. You no longer can just do whatever you feel like, because you made a promise to yourself or someone else.
2) Commitment means you have to make a choice. It means you don’t just start drinking when you get home from a long day at work, you make the tough choice to stay strong and don’t even take that first drink that leads to the next and the next.
3) Commitment means you are thinking of someone besides yourself. Once we start thinking less about our own personal needs and start putting other people’s desires above our own, we are truly committed to change which improves our life and those around us.
A friend suggested that a perfect example of how commitment can change someone’s life and the world around him is Larry Bird, the “hick from French Lick” who was born in poverty but helped the Boston Celtics make the biggest turnaround in NBA history, winning 61 games after joining the team. Growing up in small poor Indiana town, his folks were laborers and struggled to make ends meet during his entire childhood. The family found ways to fill their lives with activities that cost nothing, such as competitive games of basketball and other sports. Larry continued playing basketball in high school and college, filled with passion for the sport that had helped form his poor, but happy life. The year he started college, his father committed suicide in hopes that his social security benefits would help his family make ends meet. That didn’t stop him, so he kept moving forward helping his team win every year. Even a broken ankle during his sophomore year in college couldn’t defeat him, and his ongoing commitment led his team to 33 consecutive wins his senior year in college. There is much more to his life, always showing his commitment to his team, and later his players when he entered the coaching world.
So Larry showed us how powerful it can be to totally think more of other people than yourself, to make choices to move forward, no matter what kind of stumbling blocks are thrown along your path, and to not look at commitment as losing your freedom, but rather as a way to grow physically and mentally, spreading your wings and letting nothing hold you back.
Don’t wait until New Year’s Day, and instead make a small commitment today that will improve your life and those around you. Don’t throw it away after just a few days. Really think about the one thing you have wanted to change about yourself all your life, make a simple sign and post it on your frig, tell your friends and family so you can’t wiggle out of it and get ready for the hardest but most satisfying time of your life. When you commit to anything that you later accomplish, it is absolutely the best feeling in the whole world.
I flew recently and realized that I no longer had to sit with the seat belt cutting into me, and instead actually had a foot or more hanging down the seat. The commitment I made after my youngest son died 4 1/2 years ago, led me to eat mindfully, exercise regularly and finally have surgery this year to remove the saggy baggies. Knowing my health is better than it was when I was half my age is so worth all of the struggle and extreme pain of the last few years. That old expression of “No Pain, No Gain” has been so true for me.
Commit to something, anything and enter a note it in your computer a month from now and a year from now to check yourself and see if you reached your goal. If you didn’t, no worries, just do it again until it finally sticks. Stay loyal to yourself, even after the mood passes.