When I was in college I had a huge crush on my philosophy teacher. I was always early to class so I could spend more time around him. When he led weekend canoe trips, I always signed up. When I noticed he ate blue tortilla chips, I started buying them. I thought everything he did was super cool.
He made every lesson fun and exciting. He was obviously incredibly passionate about his work and had a way of inspiring his students to do their best. I was fascinated by the way he always saw the best in all of us; even the kids who barely made it to class.
He believed we were capable of great things and often reminded us to “be committed to our own commitments.” He used this mantra when talking to us about our school assignments as well as our personal goals.
This phrase “be committed to your own commitments” made a big impression on me. I used to write it in my journal as a reminder to stay focused on what mattered most to me.
Unfortunately, I also used it to beat myself up when I got off track. It took me years to realize that ruminating on my mistakes was not a way to be committed to my commitments.
The thing I didn’t fully understand as a college student was that commitments are not a one-time decision. Commitments are made and remade.
The most important part of commitments is recommitment. If we decide we are a failure every time we break our commitment, we will never get what we want.
When it comes to personal goals such as improving our health or losing weight, the recommitment is crucial. Most of us have days when we overeat, skip a workout, stay up too late, or freak out because we hate the way we look in our bathing suit. It is easy to use these issues as a means to be a total bitch to ourselves, tell ourselves we are weak, lazy and will never get it right.
What if instead of using our lapses in commitment as a means to bully ourselves, we simply recommitted to our goals.
What if we said, “hmmm…isn’t it interesting that I ate a pint of ice cream in one sitting when I had told myself I wasn’t going to do that anymore. I wonder what I could do differently so that doesn’t happen again.”
Or perhaps you could say to yourself, “needs work. I want to reach a healthy weight and I know eating ice cream at night isn’t helping. Next time I will try making some hot tea and see how that makes me feel.”
The quicker we recommit to our original commitment, the less time we spend in the pit of despair. We start to trust ourselves more and know that we can be committed to our own commitments. The path might not be straight, but we can get back on track again and again and again.