As many of you know, Brett is getting married soon. She asked if we could do another round of P90X3* before the wedding (we completed the fitness program together a few years ago). Of course I agreed. Not only is the exercise good for me, but I get to spend time with my daughter who will be leaving my home soon. No way was I passing up the chance for that!
P90X3 is put out by the company Beachbody. So every morning (6 days a week) when we ‘press play’ on the DVD player*, we watch the Beachbody bumper play. Beachbody’s tagline (which I like because its style mimics our Work hard. Get dirty. Use good soap.) is “Decide. Commit. Succeed.”
Aside from the similarities to the GMS tagline, I think it’s brilliant because it really distills what is required to get physically fit. First you need to decide on a program. Then you commit to it. And if you stay committed, eventually (exceptional situations withstanding) you will succeed.
I think the ‘decide’ part is pretty easy. We all know the things we “should” be doing. We “should” eat healthier. We “should” exercise more. We “should” save more money for retirement. The list goes on and on. It’s not difficult to decide that we should do something specific. (Isn’t that why people make New Year’s resolutions every year?)
The last part, ‘succeed’, kind of follows naturally if the first two parts are done so there’s not too much to talk about there.
It’s the “commit” part that’s difficult. That’s where we are challenged because life happens and life has a bad way of interfering with our commitments. And there are times it takes a will of iron to stick with our commitments in the face of what life likes to throw our way.
Let me give you a personal example. Back in July, I committed to blogging three times a week for the rest of 2017. I try to have a few blogs written ahead of time so that if life gets super busy, I have something to post. September was rather crazy and it got to the point where my blog posts (that are supposed to go live at 10am) weren’t even started by 10am. So I’d be rushing, trying to get something written to post that day (because even if it wasn’t finished by 10 am as long as it was done by 10pm I was ok with it) and then I’d get upset with myself because I felt I could have written it better if I’d had more time.
My Mom was here because she was hiding from Hurricane Irma and she encouraged me to decrease my blogging to just once a week. She was convinced that everyone would understand. I knew that she made the suggestion because she didn’t like seeing me stressed and wanted what was best for me, but I didn’t want to break my commitment.
And then this past week happened. It was nuts – between building a new barn, switching my website to a completely new platform, Brett’s wedding planning, cross-country season, and a bunch of other stuff, I got overwhelmed. And I thought to myself, I’m just going to quit blogging altogether. Then I thought, “Nope, can’t do that. I’ll just go down to once a week.” So I wrote a blog post I called “curve balls” describing the curve balls life had thrown my way and that I was going to decrease the frequency of blogging.
Then I went to sleep. And I woke up to a brand new day. And I thought, “There’s no way I’m going to stop blogging three times a week!”
I enjoy blogging. A lot. And even if I didn’t, I committed to blogging three times a week for the rest of the year. What would I be teaching my children if I just broke my commitment because I became overwhelmed?!?
Life is full of times when we are overwhelmed. That doesn’t mean we can just quit and break our commitments. Sometimes we we need to power through the difficult time even though quitting looks like a really good decision. That’s what I want to not only teach, but model for my children.
Are there times where it is ok to break our commitments? Of course. If one of my children or Jim were hospitalized, I wouldn’t hesitate to quit blogging while I took care of them. And I wouldn’t feel the least bit guilty about it.
But while there are very legitimate reasons to break our commitments, I think many of us take the easy way out sometimes. Life starts to feel a little bit (or a lot) out of control and our commitments fall apart. And I want to be clear, I’m not just talking about commitments to others. While those count, I’m mainly talking about commitments to ourselves and our families. Many of us do whatever is needed to keep our work or outside commitments – it’s ourselves and our families that suffer the consequences when life throws a lot at us.
How many times do you stop taking care of yourself when things become overwhelmed? I know I do it all the time. If I’m needed elsewhere, my self-care is the first thing to go. Doesn’t matter if I need to exercise or meditate or journal or get to bed on time or cook a healthy meal. If my customers or family need me, they get my attention first.
Because I know this about myself, I’m always careful to follow these steps as much as possible:
Choose commitments wisely. There are a lot of things that would be really nice if we could do in our lives. But I’m sorry to tell you that you can’t do them all. Don’t commit to what’s not truly important and worth maintaining.
Don’t over-commit. If you think you can handle 10 commitments in your life – only commit to 7 or 8 of them. Generally speaking, we all think we can do more than we can. And this way, when you experience life’s curve balls, you still have some wiggle room.
Choose timing wisely. When your life is going smoothly, don’t pick that time to add 5 new commitments to your life. Forecast out a few months and think about if that commitment will still work at a different (busier?) time. I keep 6 monthly calendars* on hooks* on my wall in the office. I can see at a glance what is coming up (and how quickly it is coming). This helps to keep me from over-committing now because I can see how busy the next six months will be.
Try it for a test period before committing. Try something for a while to see how it really fits into your life before committing. If you’re thinking of joining an exercise class – go once or twice and see how much time it really takes. You may think it takes 90 minutes only to find out it takes 2.5 hours when you figure in all the prepping and after care that is needed.
Get approval before committing. Accountability is a great thing. Ask your husband and your children what they think about you committing to something. Do they think it is important and are they willing to support you? Or are they against it? Sometimes your family can see your ability to handle a new commitment more clearly than you can.
Set an end time. Don’t set a new commitment for perpetuity. When I committed to blogging three times a week, it was for a five month time period. I figured that was a reasonable span to see whether I could blog sustainably at this level. If after five months I’m overwhelmed by it, I can decrease the frequency. Setting an end time helps to set expectations.
Build margin into your life. I’m a big believer in margin. If you don’t have any margin in your life, do NOT add any more commitments, but instead work on ending some of your existing ones.
I’ve learned over the years not to have any knee-jerk reactions when my life is gets a bit harder. And yet despite that knowledge, I still do it at times. But I generally recognize it for what it is, once I have a moment to pause and take a deep breath. And a good night’s sleep is always great at putting life in perspective again.
What about you? Do you often find yourself over-committed?
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