Are You Ready To Commit?

What does it mean to commit? So many of think about commitment in terms of relationship, but do you ever consider what it means to commit in your everyday life and toward your everyday goals? Today examine your commitments to see if you have taken the steps to actually make them happen and see how this shapes and changes your view point of what commitment means in creating the best life ever. Read more to get ideas on changing your perspective on what it means to commit to yourself and create the life you want.

Many of us think of commitment as a long term concept and maybe even as being “stuck” in our dull routines. 

The dictionary defines commitment as:

“the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc, a pledge or undertaking, and an engagement or obligation that restricts freedom of action”. 

So many people only pay attention to the last one. The restriction part. When we focus on the first two it actually shows us a way to find ourselves at a deeper level. It gives us direction on what to say no to and what to say yes to. It shows us what we care about and how we want to live our lives. Below outlines a few ways to work with commitment in your own life so you are not feeling burdened or stuck in the same old routines. Becker (1960) states:

“The concept of commitment is widely used but has received little formal analysis. It contains an implicit explanation of one mechanism producing consistent human behavior. Commitments come into being when a person, by making a side bet, links extraneous interests with a consistent line of activity. Side bets are often a consequence of the person’s participation in social organizations. To understand commitments fully, an analysis of the system of value within which side bets are made is necessary”. 

Howard Becker

He goes onto define and outline how people work with and need commitment to engage in a variety of activities and to help define the limits of participation in said activities. In addition, he discusses how making your goal social and examining the culture it is made within is crucial to helping make sure you remain committed. So if we think about commitment being an activity we engage in (commitment to do something) or a state of being we are in (being committed) we can use these concepts to help us define and reach our own goals. 

Think about what you would like to have, accomplish, be known for. If you can define your goals then you will know what you need to commit to. These could be activities, people, occupational trainings, etc. They could also be things you need to let go of under the same headings. You might need to let go of not doing something to reach your overall goal. 

These are your side bets. The items you need to consider participating (or not) in are the things that help build your goal. Often people do not do a good job of figuring out the side bets to accomplishing hopes, dreams, and overall goals. They often have a good idea of what they would like to do, have, become but fail to consider what steps to take and how to accomplish them. In effect, they commit to the goal, but not the side bets that will help make it possible. As a result the desire for and commitment to the idea of the goal is alive, but often feels out of reach or unattainable. In order to be successful then, one must commit to the side bets. This is the art of being dedicated to the cause, activity, goal within the social culture. This is their pledge to themselves. This is the piece that actually does the work and gets the goal finished. This is also the part that people tend to focus on negatively because it does limit choices and takes away choice for any and all behaviors and activities. 

When you begin to think about commitment being something much more than just one decision and you are stuck with it forever. You begin to see how much more flexibility is in making a commitment. Within the decision to accomplish something, have something, or be something you actually have a lot of flexibility in your choices to make goals happen. You actually have a number of ways you can go about making them happen, too. From this perspective you have a lot more control in your choices and behaviors. Let’s look at a couple of examples. 

Healthy Eating: 

Commitment is to a particular food/diet choice:

First, you have to determine what you want. Then why. This is a crucial step as it tells us what to really focus on for side bets. Remember those are all the little steps and items you commit to outside the bigger goal. If I want to change my eating to a Keto diet it will look different than a vegetarian diet. If I am choosing a vegetating diet due to ethical reasons it will look different than endurance training options. 

Once you have figured out your what and your why, you must take steps to make it come alive in your life. This is where vision boards happen, meal planning and preparation, learning to deal with eating out, other people’s opinions, and shifts in your regular behavior to take on the small everyday steps to change how you have been eating in the past. This is also where people begin to struggle to remain committed to their personal goals because it gets boring and routine. It becomes very mundane. However, if you can make it through the small decisions and routine commitment choices you will reach your goal

Let’s look at something more abstract – Relationships: 

Commitment is to a particular person, lifestyle choice, social construct. 

For many people they blindly follow their personal cultural norms around relationship commitments. Often these are view points and behaviors we saw our parents and other adults in our lives acting out and we just absorbed them as truth about the way relationships are. BUT … there are many more options and ideas about what it means to be in a long term committed relationship than the options presented to us in childhood. The steps remain the same, but the choice points and side bets look different because of our culture and societal norms of the communities we live within as adults working to form relationships. 

Many people like to blame one gender or the other for the difficulties of remaining in long term intimate relationships, instead of doing the work to determine what it is they really want and figure out ways to get it in healthy co-created side bets and awareness of team building a shared life. Often partners do things “because that’s the way it goes” rather than examine what they would like and commit to creating a life from future visioning rather than past experiences. When it gets mundane and difficult people retreat to their corner licking wounds of vulnerability instead of coming together and discussing what is hurtful, difficult, or unappealing about personal culture expression. 

For example, if one partner believes that men should not show their feelings and have never been taught to speak about or how to show feeling in authentic connection, it will be difficult to maintain a partnership where one person is focused on reciprocated emotional sharing. In this case, it is best to communicate about wants and needs effectively – which is very very difficult when we are talking about blind spots in our culture, especially when they trigger vulnerability. 

To remain committed in a long term relationship we much consistently grow “together” and expand our personal cultures, sometimes abandoning pieces and parts of old cultural norms, to co-create a new shared culture together. We must work together to focus on common goals and negotiate comprise well. Take for example one partner who wants to build a large savings account but the other partner is a spender and sees no point in saving money now. They will continue to have a difficult time reaching the safety needs of the 1st partner (to have savings) if they cannot share ideas, vulnerabilities, reasons, and commitment to the goal. In the conversation there is room for negation around how much and when to spend freely so partner 2 doesn’t feel controlled and loss of enjoyment etc.  

It takes commitment to the larger vision of what it means to be in relationship and then commitment to work together to accomplish those goals to make a relationship work over the long haul. This is what makes remaining in long term committed relationships difficult. The longer you are together the more shared culture you create and the more you examine “the way it is” mentalities you were handed. If you have not committed to grow together the prediction of your relationship is that it will end.

In order to make a long term commitment to yourself or others you must have a clear view of what you want and why it matters. This helps you chose the decision points you must address and gives you clarity to chose wisely to reach your goal. It helps to walk through the steps of determining what you goal(s) are, how you would like your life to look/be, and they type of person you want to be known as. These defining criteria in your life help you determine next steps in what to focus your action on and what to let go of. 

Look at it this way – you are already committed. You may be committed to a lifestyle and value system you love so no need to change. That is great. However, if you are looking around your life and seeing things you want to change, you must determine what you have been committed to: unhealthy eating, too much TV, relationships that are not what you want, people who do not lift you up, old value systems you follow blindly instead of reviewing to determine if it fits you, unexamined vulnerabilities and personhood core wounding that shapes what you believe about yourself, your options in this life, and the world at large to begin the process of committing to yourself and the life you want to lead. Start today.  

Becker, H. S. (1960). Notes on the concept of commitment. The American Journal of Sociology, 66(1). 32-40.

Crush Your Goals!

How are you doing with your vision board and your goal outlines? Did you do it on Monday? If not, why not? What got in your way? How could you work around those obstacles? Are you feeling like you need more help? Then reach out. Make sure you are not swirling in the same stew over an over. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to change and finding yourself stuck at the same place over and over because you are not sure how to move forward, do not have clarity about what you really want, or do not have the support you need to make your dreams come true.

Make sure to ask for help when you need it.

3 Things To Do To Build A Life Full of Joy

For those of us in the US, July brings up a sense of freedom. Freedom from schedules, freedom from the dark days of winter, the cold, each other, oppression, tyranny, working to find freedom from the heat, the sun, the laziness that takes over during the summer months. We symbolize July as a month of freedom. Yet as Shawn Mullins sings in The Gulf of Mexico, “freedom’s just a metaphor when you’ve got now where to go” and many of us are just giving lip service to the idea of freedom, we don’t feel free at all. 

Many of us feel stuck in our lives. We are locked into work schedules that make us feel like we are on a marry-go-round we can’t get off, locked into debt so we have to stay on the wheel, in relationships we find un-inspiring to say the least. We claim to be free, but we aren’t. We are stuck in patterns that get us to the same spot everyday and we hate it, and we are scared to make the jump to what we really want. 

Most of us have been taught we must be “this” or “that”, we must live up to the expectations set for us, stuck under someone else’s rule. We must continue to produce in our society to be worthy, which keeps us stuck feeling unworthy. Many of us learned that we must have all the same things as the people around us have, which keeps us feeling less than. We learned that we should have those things even if we can’t afford them, which keeps us locked in work we hate. We learned that if we don’t stay on the track created for us we have failed and let others down. Ugh, it feels heavy just to write all that. Are you ready to change these patterns and really find freedom?

First, you’ve got to look inside. By slowing down and really listening to your own voice you find the way out. As you listen, take note of what feels exciting for you, where do you lose time doing tasks and it’s exhilarating, where do you finish an intense project and feel fulfilled, not drained and overwhelmed? What brings excitement to your life? These are all hints of your calling and the unique gifts you have to give the world. 


Here’s one of the ways I find freedom – finding easy ways to eat healthy and not do the work myself 
Delicious, Stress-Free Paleo Meals


Second, look for ways to incorporate the above excitement into everyday life. Freedom isn’t always about doing whatever you feel like in the moment, but it is about doing what you love and what brings you joy. As you balance your daily life between things you want to do and things that help you live that life (like work, I love electricity and flushing toilets, I want to earn enough money to pay for those things, even if I don’t always like the work) you find joy in daily living. The Budda said “Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Likewise, the wise man, gathering it little by little, fills himself with good”. This tells us focusing on the small things, little by little, you fill yourself up. Little by little we build a life full of joy. It’s by doing the small things everyday that you fill your internal well of happiness. 

Third, you must notice. I don’t know how many hours I’ve spent with people telling them to notice the small joy that surrounds them everyday. Somedays people fight me on this one – hard. They can’t seem to find even the smallest glimmer of good in their daily life, but you know what, they always figure something out. Things that bring drops of joy into your life are little, they are things like the way the breeze feels on your skin, the way the sun glints through the tree leaves as they dance, the way the water sounds as it tumbles into the pot. The feeling of knowing you did a good job or having something to eat. Joy comes in small drops and it comes from within.

The way to find joy is to notice. Most of us are so distracted everyday we miss all those small important and mundane moments. We have to notice and drink them in. This is the only way they’ll pile up and life will have the balance and focus we crave. As we find these small items, the profound finds us. 

So many of us are busy looking forward to or searching for the profound event that we miss filling up our inner well, and then feel that life is boring, uninspiring, or un-motivating. We feel that pull of doubt saying “what’s life worth living for anyway”? Before we know it our life is the burden of the metaphor – “freedom isn’t free when you’ve got no place to go”.

Today, break free for real. Get out of your pattern and start to notice all the joy that surrounds you. Delight in the mundane and everyday occurrences that are pretty profound in themselves – like the way my stove lights and my toilet flushes, wondering what the dog is really smelling, hearing the pine trees talking to you, and watching the pattern of people and traffic on a busy street corner. Today take the challenge to pay attention to your life before it passes you by – today find your joy. 

And if you are struggling to feel like your life is going in the direction you want to go, schedule a free 15 minute consultation with me. Together we can see about setting you free. Request Appointment

 

Photo Credits: Top photo: Beautiful in Jesus & Mid article photo: Real Buddha Quotes

Creating Life Balance

 ahhhh … Balance

Balance, such an elusive idea. One many crave and few say they’ve found in their lives. What would your life look like if you had life balance?

The
Can you describe it in detail?
People often describe being in balance as being able to have both the light & the dark, the joy & the sadness, the drive & the rest. Many describe how living “in balance” (think 50/50 between doing & being) would be so wonderful, yet continue to live and behave with most of their eggs on one end of the continuum. This often leads to overcompensating and losing sight of one’s healthy living goals. Now you are just swinging from one end of the pendulum to the other, and neither end, no matter how righteous, is living balanced.
dictionary.com gives two definitions of balance I think fit well into the concept of life balance. One is: mental steadiness or emotional stability; habit of calm behavior, judgment, etc. and the other: the power or ability to decide an outcome by throwing one’s strength, influence, support, or the like, to one side or the other. Let’s apply those to your life. If you looked at the last few days, would your life meet that definition? Where are you in balance? Not in balance? Where could you decrease or add items to create more balance? From here planning comes in.
Planning includes getting really focused. Ask yourself what’s one thing you could do today to increase your ability to experience life balance? Now get really focused on this item. See yourself engaged in it, completing it, how you will feel after you’ve accomplished it, how others are impacted by your behavior. Write it down, draw a picture, find a word, create a sounds or movement to represent it. Move, say, or carry your symbol of this change with you and use it often. Keep your mind singularly focused on your goal, not the problems. According to Feng, Schwemmer, Gershman, and Cohen (2014) “people are famously poor at multitasking control-demanding behaviors; they are often able to execute only a few, and sometimes no more than one at a time” (p.129) due to engaging multiple process pathways that reduce flexibility and efficiency completing tasks. Basically, where we put our focus drives what we focus on. Focusing on the problem then leads to focusing more on the problem. If you want positive change focus on the solution. Based on this model of focus you are more likely to stick to, complete your goal, and find more opportunities to support your positive change.
References
Feng, S. f., Schwemmer, M., Gershman, S. J., & Cohen, J. d. (2014). Multitasking versus multiplexing: Toward a normative account of limitations in the simultaneous execution
of control-demanding behaviors. Cognitive Affective & Behavioral Neuroscience, 14, 129-146. DOI 10.3758/s13415-013-0236-9
Photo
Mousiemasala.tumblr.com
Here’s a worksheet to get you started:
Where are you not in balance? 
Home? Work? Intimate relationships? Friendships? Role as a parent, adult child, sibling, wife, mother, father, husband, etc? Spiritual? 
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Where could decrease or add items to create more balance?
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How will you engaged in this new behavior?
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How will you know when you are doing it or have completed it?
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Imagine yourself completing your goal, how will you feel?
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How will your loved ones, friends, co-workers, dog, etc be impacted by your positive change?
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What symbol will you use to help you remember you are practicing this new behavior, thought, emotional response? Find your symbol, carry it with you, and use it often.
A picture, word, sound, movement? Describe it, paste it, or draw it here.
Close Print

Live the Life You Love

How much do you love what you are doing? With your life? With your partner? With yourself? Are you able to look around your life and feel like YES! this is what I want to be doing? If not then it’s time for you to reevaluate your life and how you life it.  Read on to change your life.

First, take stock of what you are doing and why. What drives your daily routine? Is it material items you don’t care about? Is it work that you feel betters the world around you? Is it what you want to do or what someone else wants you to do?

Now I don’t ask these questions with the expectation that you will drop everything to do a 180 in your life today, however you can start small.

The next thing you need to do is figure out what you want to do. Write a mission statement. Begin by writing down one statement that encompasses what you want your life to stand for. Sometimes it can be helpful to start this process with a paragraph about you someone might read at your death. What would you like them to say about you? What is the impact on others and the world you have left behind? Once you have an idea around what you would like your life to stand for write down the why behind your passion. What is the driver of this desire?

Then write down one thing you can do each day to move closer to this living this life. Now start doing that thing every day. My experience has been as I begin with one thing it snowballs and soon I am doing a number of things that support the life I want to live and I am no longer living a life that drains my energy, steals my excitement, and leaves me feeling life – less. Instead I feel life – full.

Taking the Risk, Facing Your Fear

I was talking with my supervisor yesterday and we discussed how some people are afraid to try new things. This is not my nature and I am amazed when I am reminded how many people pass up opportunities because they are afraid. When do you hold back because you are afraid to leap or even step? Have you missed out on awesome opportunities in your life because you held back? How will you face your fear next time and not lose out?

Being able to discern valid opportunities that will move your life forward is important. Often many of us are afraid because there is so much out there. We become overwhelmed trying to wade through it all. So it is very important that you are able to pick and choose which things you want to reach for.

First, get really clear on what you want. Do you want more health? Wealth? A more fulfilling relationship? A brighter garden? How can you know what opportunities are out there if you don’t even know what you are looking for? It is very important to get clear about what you want. Research shows us that what we are conditioned for we will see more of. This means if I am conditioned to think I can’t do something, I will find all the ways in which I cannot get it done. On the other hand, if I think I can I will look for solutions to getting it done when I get stuck because I believe I can.

Second, know your own limits. We all have them. And this means we all have strengths, too. It is important to know both. Once you have a clear idea of your strengths and weaknesses it will be important to find others who are strong where you are weak. This allows you to fill in the gaps in your own abilities. If your task is beyond the help of a friend, hire a professional to fill in your gaps.

Third, don’t be paralyzed by fear. We all get that last minute feeling of fear when we jump from the cliff into the unknown. Don’t let it stop you. Again, it is important to determine if the fear is telling you something you need to listen to, like don’t give all your savings to a Bernie Madoff type, or if it is a natural result of pushing your own limits.

Finally, enjoy the ride. Life is a journey and no matter what you journey you are set to embark on enjoy it.

The Art of Giving Freely

Usually at this time of year I write about New Year’s Resolutions. This year I thought I’d do something else. I was reading a translation of the yoga sutras and this morning’s discussion centered on giving without obligation. Giving freely.

As I finished my practice I began thinking about how one might give freely to themselves. How can I give to me without obligations? As this idea continued to grow in my brain I began thinking of how this concept could be applied to my fitness, my exercise, my free time, my family, my friends, and so on.

What if I gave myself freely to my exercise? This means no “I worked out today so I get to eat anything I want” no push – pull with my body and its shape, no deals made with myself regarding what I will get for “making” myself workout.

What if I just exercised because it feels better when I do? What if instead of bargaining the time so I can “make myself do it” I just enjoyed moving? What if I let go of all the numbers – my weight, how much I lift, how many minutes “I should” continue and just did what felt good for that day at that time? I know some of you are wondering how in the hell would I reach my goals or get clients to workout if there wasn’t some carrot at the end of a stick. I wonder, too and I am open to the possibilities it presents. We’ll have to see how it unfolds.

In the Sutra the focus was on giving for the sake of giving. Not for greed or expectation of something in return. It was giving for the goodness of it. Were you able to practice this over the holiday season with friends and family or were your gifts tied to invisible strings you’ll pull in someday? Interesting idea to give and not expect. Be honest with yourself and notice who you gave freely to and who you didn’t. Then take the next step and let go of your expectation of return and favors tied to your invisible strings.

The art of giving is really a selfish act. We feel better when we give freely and aren’t all tangled in those invisible strings – both those we have given and those we’ve received. Isn’t it time to be free?

Finding the Time To Workout

I have been working to keep my time, mine. Anyone else out there have this problem? I have a daily plan and it slips away as though I didn’t do anything. I get maybe, two – three items crossed off my list and when I look back they were for someone else – NOT me! The first step to providing enough time for your workouts is to be realistic about what you can and cannot do.

I notice when I lose my time I am giving it away to things I may not need to be doing. I could call it “wasting” however that isn’t the right word. I ‘m doing things I enjoy or spending time with people I enjoy. I may just be overstaying my need. It is powerful to check in with yourself and notice are you giving your time away to others because you want to, enjoy it, or are you doing it because you think you need to – that’s your duty, they will be mad at you, or that’s what you are supposed to be doing?

Notice if your being (body, mind, and soul) expand when you are engaged in an activity. If they are not it may be time to look at your work / life balance. For some us we put way too many shoulds and have tos on our plate leaving little time for want tos.

With three kids, a job, and school I must say I’m busy. It is important I check my work / life balance often to make sure I am balancing out my life. If I spend too much time doing things I have to and not enough want tos my life wouldn’t work.

This includes looking closely at the things I enjoy. If I spend too much time with my friends I may not have time for my family. If I spend too much time with my kids I may have a under – exercised lab. If I spend too much time reading I may not have time to enjoy any of the above. Get it? Its all about balance.

Check out how you have spent your time in the last 3 days and notice if you are spending too much time doing things you have to, want to, or should do. Then begin to make sure you’ve got balance each day between all three.  AND make sure to do at least one thing you enjoy each day, just for you.

Begin Living Your Life Today!

5 Ways to better life balance. Balance your life responsibilities

On Monday we looked at our lives subjectively. Are there areas I feel out of balance and I can I see ways to change. On Wednesday we took an objective look at how we spend our time and decided if how we spend the majority of our time is how we want to spend the majority of our time. Today we look at 5 ways to manifest better balance into our lives.

Once you have determined areas of your life you want to change it is easy to blame why you don’t change on others:

  • My kids need too much
  • My significant other doesn’t want to eat healthy
  • I have too much to do
  • I am taking care of my parents
    the list could go on.

The bottom line is – change is hard, there is a reason you are caught in the patterns you are caught in, and if you really want your life to look different you will have to figure out ways to make that happen. Small steps can make that happen.

Here are some ideas to get you started.

  1. Write down your goals
  2. Delegate – are there jobs you do (laundry, cleaning, cooking, errands, car pooling) that others could do. Hint: they will do it differently than you and that is ok.
  3. Create some boundaries. Do you need to tell people no more often – “no I can’t cook X for the upcoming pot-luck”, “no I can’t coach soccer this fall”. Get clear about what you want. This is critical to honoring yourself and others in your actions. Be kind, open, and honest when turning down offers and be ready for resistance from people who are used to hearing yes.
  4. Create a goal poster – clip pictures of your life vision and set the intention to achieve them. Place it where you will see it often everyday.
  5. Commit to live with intention. In each moment ask yourself if this is what you want to be doing/thinking and honestly listen for the answer. When you find yourself answering no decide what you do want to be doing and make efforts to move in that direction.

    These are not suggestions to shrink from life responsibilities. All of us would rather be doing something else at times but by listening to what you would rather be doing you begin to see a pattern of what is working and what is not working in your life. By visualizing what you want you are better able to recognize activities which might move you in that direction. In doing those activities more often you are more likely to get the life you want one step at a time.