Over the last week, I've spoken to several people specializing in health and wellness who complained about those who don't follow through on their "commitments". Everything from failing to attend exercise classes, personal training sessions, and physical therapy, to failing to modify their diets to eat healthily. And no one could understand why. Reasons (considered excuses) were given, such as it's cold outside, I'm too busy, and it's so difficult. And despite hearing the potential consequences attendant with failing to abide by their "commitments," the behavior changed for some only while they felt guilty. Were these truly commitments? Maybe, maybe not. Only those people know.

Sometimes, what is simply a desire for us--for example, to lose weight, stop smoking, save money, is viewed as a commitment (or something to which we should commit) by others. But a desire is not a commitment. So if we try something and find it's not working for us--for whatever reason--we're done. After all, many things sound appealing until we try them. And once involved, we may find we're not willing to do the work, that it will require more time and effort than we anticipated, etc. Even if it's health related, we sometimes ignore any discussion of consequences related to our refusal or failure to commit to a change in habits, diet or lifestyle. We may not consider the potential consequences to be anything that will happen to us. Sometimes we give up on things because we're not getting immediate results. It can be discouraging not to see the fruits of our labor on our time frame. Regardless of whether that's rational, it may be the determining factor in whether we turn our desire into a commitment. And, sometimes, we may just decide we're comfortable in our present state or circumstances and don't want to be pushed outside our comfort zone. Each person knows the reason/answer for their particular situation.

Webster's Dictionary defines a commitment as "a promise to be loyal to someone or something." In life, we commit to our mates, children, families, jobs, businesses, etc. As a result, it can be very difficult to add anything else to the list--even if it relates to our health/wellness. And this can apply equally to social activities, church, volunteering, taking classes, starting a business, etc. We may want to be involved, and commence involvement. But when it becomes an obligation (or we see it as thus), our enthusiasm may diminish and we may cease to participate.


What I've learned about commitment over the years is that it requires a sacrifice of some kind. Maybe it's a sacrifice of time, money, talent, effort, emotions, a willingness to operate outside ones comfort zone, etc. In order to abide by a commitment, I must: 1) be honest with myself about what I'm willing to do to abide by the commitment. That means I must consider the nature and size of the commitment, whether it's a short- or long-term commitment, what may be required of me to fulfill the commitment, whether I'll be working alone, whether it's outside my comfort zone, the end goal, etc; 2) make the decision to follow through even when it's difficult, inconvenient, and/or I'm unsure whether the intended benefit(s) will materialize; and 3) act in accordance with my decision. To motivate myself--especially when it becomes difficult-- I try to envision the end goal.

For me, a desire is like a good idea sans follow-through. As they say, nothing ventured nothing gained. But I believe
commitments bear fruit. That doesn't mean there won't be discouragement and/or disappointments along the way, or that things will work out as we plan or envision. But there are valuable lessons to be learned, especially if we are able to see beauty in the process. And those lessons can serve us when moving on to our next commitment(s).

 


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