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.

Focus on What Works

Today focus on what you want and ignore all those things you do not want.

Do not waste your energy focused on what is not working.

Note the problem, create a solution, and move in the direction you want to go. Do not look back. What is done, is done. Just move forward.

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 Ways to Get Your Goals Back on Track

So many of us have great ideas and goals set at the 1st of the year, only to lose them by February 14th and then beat ourselves up because we can’t seem to stay on track. Some of us are crushing it in some places and not in others. Today take time to reflect on your goals and see where you can up level your life and get back or stay on track with your goals and plans for 2019.

We are into the second quarter of 2019, how are you doing on your goals for the year? Many around the world just finished celebrating Easter, a time for Christians to reflect on new beginnings and creating the life they would like to have, rather than the one they were handed. In the natural world, at least in the northern hemisphere, this is the time of fresh starts, new sprouts, and lots of possibility. Dreams of the garden flowers, harvest foods, and vacationing come to mind. 

As we move further into spring and all its hope, where are you crushing your goals? Where have you lost focus? Take the time to review what is working and what is not. Now is the season to reflect on next steps and make changes if you are recognizing they are needed. 

Successful people know flexibility is part of the success process. Failure happens, and it teaches. If you find that an area is failing it is time to determine if / what needs to change. Revisit your goals and find the places that need an adjustment, then make it. 

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If you have lost focus, it is time to visit what keeps getting in your way and get back in the game. Here are 3 ways to refocus, reflect, make change or get back on track starting right now. 

  1. Revisit your plans. Remember how we looked at setting goals at the start of the year. Re-read your plan. If you did not create a written plan or outline, do it now. It is important to have some representation of your goals you can look at regularly. Otherwise it becomes too easy to slip back into old habits and beliefs. Change takes time and without regular focus on what you would like to see different, you will fall back into old patterns. So today, pull out your yearly goals and revisit them. See yourself doing them. See yourself being successful having accomplished them. See yourself going through the motions to get them done. A little bit of work each day on your goals, goes a very long way. 
  2. Look at your vision board. If you did not create a vision board at the start of the year. Make one now. It does not have to be complicated. Find a few pictures that represent your goals for the year. Then paste them in a place you will see them regularly. I put mine in my daily planner. I took a page in the book I didn’t need and used that to put my vision board on. Then I look at each day as part of my morning meditation. During this time, I do not worry about the work, the steps, the how of accomplishing my bigger goals. I just look at the pictures. This exercise has been shown to help our brains orient to our goals and therefore find more success accomplishing them. When we are “primed” for our goals, we can see the opportunities that once may have been lost in our daily grind. We can see the items we need to say yes to, and the ones we need to say no to. When you have a good vision of where you are going and what you want, the daily to do list gets more clear. Thus, helping you focus on what you need to do next. 
  3. Create a reflection process. It can be in the morning, mid-day, evening the timing does not matter as long as it is your best time to focus, and it needs to be done with regularity. Many people skip this step because it feels like “doing nothing”, however it is very important step in making your dreams a reality. During this time, dream. Just allow yourself to review your vision board, your mission statement, and your overall direction. Let yourself dream whatever you want about your goals. See them big and full, see them in all their colors, vivid details, and possibility. This is not a time to worry about how you are going to make your dreams a reality. It is not a time to worry about greed, materialistic, or grandiose ideas you might have. This is a time for you to really allow yourself to see your dream complete. Your dream is perfectly ok, as long as it is not about harming another as this keeps your stuck in negative patterns rather than growth patterns. It does not matter if others find your dream valid or interesting. It is not theirs it is yours. As long as you are focused on positive aspects, you can have whatever you want in whatever way you want it. It will not be the same as other people’s dreams. It is not theirs … it is yours. Just allow yourself to see it in your mind’s eye in its entirety and feel the wonderful feelings of successfully accomplishing it. 

Today, check back into those goals you created to start 2019. How are you doing on them. If you were to rate yourself on a scale from 1-10, 10 being crushing it, how are you doing? Could you give yourself an 8 or better? If not, why not. What has gotten in your way and how can you find a solution around your obstacle? If yes, what are you doing that is working? Can you create more of that everyday to help you reach your goals with success?

Getting over the Plateau

How’s everyone doing on your goals? Hopefully, you are still progressing. Sometimes (approx 6wks) things get a little boring and may feel a bit stagnant. If you’re in that camp it may be time to change it up. You can do this in a variety of ways. What we want is to become inefficient again. Our bodies are smart and adapt to overload (i.e. exercise) fairly quick. So challenge yourself to do something different this week. Here’s a list of ideas to challenge you.

You can …

1)      Increase your intensity – make the movements bigger, faster, stronger by adding power (speed and strength together).

2)      Decrease your intensity – you might need a recovery week. To do this spend the majority of your workouts in the bottom range of your THRZ – don’t do this if you have been working at the lower intensity thus far – see #1 instead.

3)      Add new movement patterns – try a more complicated step or trail. You can also begin to add in more arm movements – this keeps your body more confused, not to mention your brain, and you’ll work harder because you have to think more. You can also re-arrange the way you do your movements so the muscles have to recruit in a different order.

4)      Add intervals or tabbata to your workout – intervals are something like 30sec on, 45 sec recovery (you can play with the times). The “on” set is all out. Tabata is 8 rounds of 20sec on 10 sec off (total of 4mins). Both are very effective at increasing metabolic rate and training the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. Tabata a bit more so – if you try them both you’ll see why.

5)      Take a new class or learn a new exercise. You can check out strength training options at SuperiorWorkout.com on my video blog or YouTube. I go over a variety of options for major muscle groups. Or YouTube, ask a friend, look up Synergy Fitness, Inc http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXD69lc1OTY (this is one YouTube Video) or Alien Training http://www.alientraining.com/  – I like this dude (I get no profit from my recommendation. He’s got good stuff). Go to http://tabatatraining.org/ Great workouts, free, and more explanation on the method.

Making Fitness Fit Your Life.

Can you make your fitness fit your life? Planning is key. Life will happen. It is important to consider how you will live life as a healthy person. Many, don’t take this into account and create goals set up for failure. Here are two considerations to make when you are planning your new HEALTHY life!

If you can look at your upcoming schedule for the next few months. Note any big things like trips, events, extra work projects, etc – that way you can time your workouts to reflect life rather than trying to make your schedule fit your exercise. This is usually a little less hectic and more successful in the long run.

You can create a workout plan that includes light weeks and weeks of “active rest” (just scheduled activities like on vacation but not a true workout if it’s not available) for the weeks you need more time. The week before you would schedule a heavy workout week – more time working out and the week after a moderate amount. Then you have a plan and don’t fall completely off the wagon for a well deserved vacation.

Planning is key to sticking with healthy living goals. Here’s to a great and healthy 2014!!!

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.

5 Ways To Love Yourself First

In this season of holiday many of the world’s religions are celebrating. A common theme that runs through many religions and spiritual practices is love – love of self, love of others, love of what’s around us. So as the world celebrates in many ways it is time to celebrate yourself.
How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways. First, I feed myself well.  Second, I exercise regularly.  Third, I get enough sleep. Fourth, I take time to relax and be quiet. How many of these can you say you do?

First, we must eat healthy. There are so many confusing choices out there that you must become an educated consumer if you are going to succeed in this department. Just this week a study reported that a low fat diet was not a factor. Let’s open that argument up. Low fat in general is not a factor in many diseases because our bodies need a certain amount of fat. Many vitamins are fat soluble, meaning you need fat for them to work. We now know that fat comes in many different types and a low fat diet today will look very different from the fads that hit mainstream more than a decade ago. Fat is not the problem, but what type is. First, think of fats in health vs not healthy. Then educate your self as to where each type is found. For example fats occurring in most fruits, vegetables, and nuts are considered healthy fats, although they still must be consumed in moderation.   Saturated and trans fats are considered poor choices because they tend to expedite disease. When you are making food choices choice a diet with healthy fats and avoid the unhealthy ones. Make sure you are getting enough fruits and vegetables. Lack of fruits and vegetables is the number one problem I see with client diets, and is a huge factor in many diseases. If you have questions about your diet log onto: http://www.mypyramid.gov/ This food guide will let you customize your diet.

Second, you must move. As a regular reader you are aware of the benefits of movement, make sure you are getting enough. You should be getting cardiovascular and strength training in each week according to your goals. The heart, lungs, and vascular systems are the primary aims of cardiovascular training. We can test the body’s response to this type of work in different ways, but the easiest is to monitor your heart rate. There are simple formulas for figuring your heart rate or use a rate of perceived exertion scale. The best way to monitor your heart rate continuously is to purchase a heart rate monitor. This tool goes a long way toward reaching your goals. Strength training creates stronger muscles, more lean mass, denser bones, and increases metabolism. It is an important component of health and must not be ignored. Remember, strength training should be challenging. We create strength by overloading our muscles. We overload by placing them under stress and making them work. Way back when, overload was available in our daily routines. Most of us must create overload regularly to create more strength these days.

Third, are you getting enough sleep? This is so important, and many Americans are chronically tired. Sleep is important to the overall function of our bodies. It allows our body to restore and repair. Without sleep you will not function as well during waking hours, and lack of sleep can contribute to a variety of illnesses including depression. How do you know if you are getting enough sleep? Difficulty waking in the morning, an inability to concentrate during the day, feelings of moodiness, irritability, depression, or anxiety, or falling asleep during work or class are all indicators that you need more sleep. Your body will go into sleep debt and will expect to make up the needed sleep. If you do not make up the needed sleep you will then become chronically sleep deprived, opening yourself up to a whole host of problems. Sleep time should not be compromised. It is vital to your well-being.

Fourth, taking time to relax is very important. In our culture of doing more, consuming more, and constant “on” behavior we set ourselves up for disease. Just as our bodies need sleep, our minds need down time. For many this is difficult because many associate busy with success, however you will be more productive if you take time to rest. Studies show people who take a 10-minute break every 60-90 minutes are more productive than those who push through working. Get up, move around, stretch, take a mental vacation, sit quietly, turn out the lights in your office, breathe – the list can go on. Life must contain balance. When things are out of balance we find disease, depression, and pain. Look around your world and notice that all things crave balance. Your space, if it is too cluttered it can contribute to stress, if it is too sparse it can feel empty and uninviting which leads to your moving out of it. Look around your relationships, if they are too close they can feel suffocating, if there is not enough interaction you can be left to feel alone. You determine your levels of balance, and you have the power to change your world and create the balance you need to function optimally.

Finally, In this season of giving – give to yourself. If you are looking for change in your life, remember you are in charge. Show yourself that you are important each day by making choices that reflect your importance. Take care of yourself, and take accountability for your actions. Remember, your choices determine your outcomes, which determine your quality of life, and how will you count the ways in which you love thee?

Ready to plan for your health and wellness? Check out this article on Fitting Fitness Into Your Life.

Building Self-Esteem to Accomplish Your Fitness Goals

We’ve discussed wanting lifestyle change.  We’ve talked about ways to do it, why you should, how, when, and the science behind the reasons.  Today we are going to explore why you don’t do it.

I can hear the collective exhale, “thank god”, you sigh, finally an answer to my issues. Nope, sorry, just some more ideas on exploring where you really are in the process. I repeatedly get clients who want instant gratification.  Remember this is a slow process and it can be a very spiritual experience as you peel off layers of identity, excuses, habits, routines, and other activities that are not working anymore.

Let’s talk about self-esteem. I find this to be a huge stumbling block for many people. Even if self-esteem is there in other areas of life, say work or parenting, when it comes to health it can be dented. Many who are in the process of change doubt what they are doing, are in an uncomfortable place of change, and are facing other issues that may work against their goal further adding to the doubt and insecurity. In an article a few years back (but worth repeating) Brian Tracy , “People with high self-esteem are more positive, more likable, and more effective in every part of their lives. Your job, therefore, it is to keep your self-esteem high and positive on a continuing basis.”

He goes on to outline six critical elements of self-esteem building: Goals, Standards, Success Experiences, Comparison with Others, Recognition, and Rewards. Striving toward each element helps build, grow, and maintain your self-esteem. High self-esteem is directly related to accomplishing your goals, and the more you accomplish the goals you set the more confidence you have, and the more you strive to live by your standards and values. When your values and standards are congruent with the lifestyle you lead the more self-esteem you have and the more peace you feel in daily life. See the process? The elements build upon each other to help you be the best you can be.

We are typically taught not to compare ourselves with others, but here he refers to positive comparisons where you feel you have room to grow and accomplish your goals while using another’s success as a benchmark for your own. This is a tricky place to be. Similar to setting realistic goals you must choose comparisons that will allow you to be successful and continue to build your success experiences. He does note that we come to a place where we are no longer competing with others, but rather our own past successes.

Another factor in cultivating self-esteem is self talk. Many of us have an inner critic. For some this can be a voice that spurs us to strive harder and make the finish line, and for others this critic derails us and we pretend not to hear it as we sit on the couch with the whole bag of potato chips, only to hear it loud and clear when the bag is gone and the opportunity for exercise missed. Victor M Parachin, Mdiv writes (again and oldie but goodie), “Avoid becoming your own worst enemy by talking back to nasty voices in your head.” Next time you hear yourself saying I am fat, I am lazy, I will never make it, I can’t, talk back and tell the voice to be quiet. Treat yourself as you would treat a friend.

Look for areas in your life where you can implement these elements and begin to build yourself up. Draw on your strengths and downplay your weaknesses. Find successes in your past to use as comparisons for new goals, and find people you admire to model your direction after. Tracy states, “…you need to build your own structure and take full responsibility for building yourself up on a regular basis.” If you won’t take the time on you, who else will?

“Cultivating Your Self Esteem”, Brian Tracy, Club Solutions, June 2005 pg 36 www.clubsolutions.biz

“Cultivating Confidence”, Victor M. Parachin, Mdiv, American Fitness, July/August 2005 pg.36-38   www.americanfitness.com