How to know what your real commitments are

Every morning I stare at my belly in the mirror, trying to assess whether my weight has gone down. I squint at my belly from every angle. Assessment complete, I step on the scale, fingers crossed that I'm a wee bit closer to my ideal weight. 

(Don’t worry. I haven’t suddenly become a health coach. After what you’re about to read, puh-lease. You’ll agree I should stick to my day job. I promise this relates to your independent journey.)

Back to my morning routine.

I want to lose a little bit of weight. Not much really. I’m not overweight by any stretch but I would like to arrest a small weight gain that has crept up as I rack up the years. It isn’t really about my weight. It’s about a desired state. In this case, wanting to feel good in my clothes without having to buy a whole new wardrobe or feelings like encased sausage.

I meet the scale each morning hopeful. 

The difference doesn’t have to be much, as long as the number gets smaller. Some days it’s lower, while on others it’s higher. As you can guess, I feel better on the lower days and frustrated with the fluctuations. On bad days I feel like I’ll never make my goal. And, on really bad days, I feel like there’s nothing I can do about it. I tell myself that I’m doing everything right, everything that I’ve done in the past to get what I want.

On a bad day this week, I started asking myself hard questions.

Was I really doing everything I could?

Was I willing to suffer in the moment, opting for long-term goals?

Was I truly committed to my desired state?

A pit formed in my stomach. The answer was no. 

I had vowed to follow a fairly strict eating plan, but. But. I didn’t actually stick to it. I mostly stuck to it. When I was having a busy or tough day, I slid off the tracks. I didn’t wash fries down with a milkshake, but I also didn’t follow the eating plan to the letter. I reasoned my aberrations were just small things, they didn’t matter. Picking a quick hit of energy from a protein bar rather than a real meal. Skimping on lunch when I got too busy. Popping chewable vitamin c like candy when I needed a bit of a lift.

I wanted to treat myself regularly but still get my desired state. My actions and words were at odds. I looked committed but I wasn't. I think lots of us are like this.  And, when we fail to achieve our dream state, we get angry at ourselves. We blame our lack of willpower or commitment.

Here’s the rub.

Willpower doesn’t work. While we're wrong about willpower, we're not about the second thing. Commitment takes a tremendous amount of effort. I was faux-committed to sashaying feeling all comfortable and cute. I would have told you that I was committed, but my protein bar cheats outed me.

Maybe you're like me. We think we’re committed to something but despite our best efforts, we never seem to get there. There are many reasons we may not have reached our ideal state.

Commitment certainly isn’t the only thing. It’s just the first thing. 

I'm generally not someone with big commitment problems so I knew something was amiss. Turns out I was actually committed. To something else. I just wasn't conscious about what that was. Then it became clear. I consistently choose my business over whittling my waistline. Given the effort they require, it's hard to focus on several commitments at once. So, I made a choice about what was most important. As a recovering type A, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Helping people be independent is incredibly important to me. I want everyone to be able to work for themselves if they want. I’d never give this up.

Sometimes our promises to ourselves conflict with one another. Like me, you may realize that you’re actually committed to something else. And that’s ok. It’s just time to acknowledge that maybe something else is more important. While you'd like to build your business, it may be stagnating because you're focused on something else like family, stability or socializing. You might discover that your mindset is focused on something that runs counter—even if you didn’t realize it. These kind of commitments look like beliefs such as “I’ll never be successful” or “Life is always going to be hard.” Mindset beliefs may be harder to uncover but are just as important. 

Whatever your answer, you won’t get any business-shaming from me. Those are actually all fine things to be committed to. Well, except not believing in yourself. I'll never be down with that.

Maybe building your business at a slower rate is actually just what you need. Or perhaps all this self-examination makes you realize you do want to shift your focus to creating something for your future. If do you want your professional life to be more ideal, you're going to have to make different, and perhaps difficult choices. The good news?

Knowing what you really want to be committed to is powerful.
While there's effort in commitment, this turns into stress when you're faux-committed. Your brain feels the cognitive dissonance. And you know by now how draining this kind of inner conflict can be. Letting go of faux commitments frees up all sorts of mental space. Space you can use to lean into the stuff that really matters. No more mentally flogging yourself for a perceived flaw.

True commitments give you a boost of energy more powerful than that gallon-sized cup of coffee you drink every morning.

As for me?

My commitments are now crystal clear. I still look in the mirror but now I see a strong, focused independent business-owner who doesn’t worry about small day-to-day fluctuations in her weight. When I "cheat" I know I'm making a choice. I'm not upset with myself, or my weight. The scale isn't my foe anymore. It feels so much better. 


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