Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Shelley on Commitment...

Throughout my life, I have always thought of myself as something of a commitment-phobe. You know, a "like to leave my options open," kind of gal. And I'm not just talking about my relationships with the fellas, this goes for jobs, cities I've lived in, hair colors, and most definitely paint choices. I'm notorious for repainting the same room four times in a row because something just wasn't quite right. Now, don't get me wrong, I am a serial monogamist. I know how to be in it. I know how to stay faithful. I got that part down.(Of note: Cleveland I have NEVER cheated on you. Not even when Chicago showered me with extravagant gifts or Austin flashed it's pearly whites and hot bod at me). What I hadn't quite figured out up until recently, was how to first, choose wisely and then take that leap of faith and quit wondering what or who is around the next corner.

Lately, as I talk to more and more people, I feel like this topic of commitment is rearing its head more than a desperate bridesmaid elbowing for the bouquet. It seems there's some kind of a tipping point buzzing right now. A precipice of change that many are teetering right on the brink of. To truly commit and do something all the way or, to pump the brakes and keep it casual.

As I type this, today is my one year anniversary with my dude. Far and away, our duo has been the best thing I've done in the past 365. The guy is the real deal and he somehow manages to put up with me with not only a smile on his face, but the patience of a saint. Whoever I did some favors for in a past life, sexual or otherwise, it was totally worth it. I digress. Celebrating this milestone personally, and all this buzz about commitment around me, I wanted to share some of the lessons I've learned about commitment and the perks of saying yes to one at the expense of many.

Freedom at last! I'm not going to waste your time, let's just cut right to the good stuff - the biggest shocker I've found as I learn to embrace commitment is this: it is mother eff'ing liberating. Whoomp there it is. Once you truly decide to go all in on something, someone, some decision, you clear up all of that head space, pain, waffling, indecision, etc. to now let yourself go forward and make progress. Committing - and truly meaning it - is the equivalent of giving all of the "what if's? coulda's, woulda's and shoulda's" that full 2 tablespoon dosage of NyQuil. Those bad boys are put to bed.

I remember reading that human beings can really only process so many choices before we become overwhelmed. At a certain point, being presented with more options only serves to stress us out. There was some pretty rad research done - using the cereal aisle and the never-ending array of choices - that illuminated this finding. If you are constantly perusing the options and never choosing or you're constantly buying one box, tossing it after a bowl and buying another, you're either going to end up starving or go broke with a pantry full of halfsy boxes.

When you decide to quit dipping your toe in the water and to jump on in, it is scary as hell but it is also freeing. If you're anything like me, and you're prone to over-analyzing, there is magic in committing because it renders your "mull this over a million different ways" button, paralyzed. No doubt, there's a bit of an "oh shit, did I just do that?" moment. But the beauty of it is that now you can make progress and quit spinning your wheels. I often remind myself to stay focused on progress and not motion. Motion is running around like a chicken with its head cut off but not ever getting anywhere. Progress on the other hand is motion with purpose. You get somewhere. And in order to get somewhere, you've got to commit to going there.

For some people, it's the making of the decision that is the toughest part. Once they've made up their mind, they are like a dog with a bone and they are full throttle at getting after it. For others, they can commit, but it's the follow through that trips them up. Think celebrity marriages: these people aren't afraid to go all in, they just can't go the distance. Here's the thing...

Commitment requires loyalty. As I was surfing for some inspirational quotes this week I came across this gem: "commitment means staying loyal to what you said you were going to do long after the mood you said it in has left you."

Bam. Boom. Pow. So that happened.

I couldn't possibly have said it better. If making a conscious and concerted choice is step one of commitment, then follow-through is step two. Let me illustrate this with an example that I have played out in my life a million times. I think to myself how badly I want to take control of my health and really rock some physical goals. So, I commit. I get more focused in my exercise habits. I clean up my diet. Things are going pretty good! Then all of  sudden I'm presented with the weekend... well shoot, my friends are all going to watch some football, followed by an impromptu pub crawl chased down with a DQ run on the way home?! How in the hell am I going to say no to that?!

Here's when one of two things happens: you stay loyal or you cheat. At this point, the mood with which you decided you want to "get healthy" has long passed and now you're faced with sticking to your guns or explaining why you're coming home with soft serve stains on your collar and a plastic, red spoon sticking out of your pocket. It's tough. It's embarrassing and most of all, it hurts. And it hurts because it's a disappointment. But this isn't the end of the story.

Like any relationship - whether with another human being or with ourselves - slip ups happen. It's weathering those slip ups that truly tests our character and dedication. Which brings us to my third and final lesson.

The difference between being interested in something and being committed to something is "habit investment." I won't front that I invented that awesome term "habit investment" - I'll give those props to the blog where I read about this concept (which is well worth the read). What I'm getting at is this: if you're interested in something you do it for awhile until you become disinterested and give it up for something else. If you're committed to something it becomes a lifestyle.

A lifestyle requires that you habitually build and foster it. You need to be vigilante in not just creating it, but also in care-taking it. No one is going to babysit it for you and no one can build it but you. This my friends, is true, unadulterated, real, raw investment and commitment.

I challenge you to look at your life and where you're playing at only 50%, 75%, hell, 90% of your max and figure out what's holding you back. This is YOUR life and you only get one go-around at it. Make the decision to commit to the things you've only let yourself dream you could be or accomplish and then begin investing in the habits that can turn that dream from a figment to a reality. Just think, every day you invest in that dream you are already living its reality. Now that is awesome. No waiting to tick some arbitrary goal with a finite deadline off your list, this is a LIFEstyle, and therefore, goes on for LIFE. The second you start, you are in it, baby! So go, GO, go and get busy living it!

1 comment: