How Do We Really Courageously Self Commit When it Feels So Complicated?
Yesterday I wrote about courageous self commitment and why perhaps sometimes when you make commitments to yourself you do not keep them. It is not because you are lazy or incapable or “not good enough” it is many things, but one of them is that you are conditioned not to keep your self commitments. Self love is a muscle—one you have to train and build over time. The more you practice self love and self commitment, the better you will get.
It is day two of my own self commitment challenge: Spend 15 minutes writing a day.
This in theory is an excellent challenge. It is simple; 15 minutes. It is clear; do it daily. It is measurable; did you write for 15 minutes today? It is something you can see take shape over time—review what you wrote and see the evolution of those posts; it has a growth arc.
But if I am being honest, it is still somewhat terrifying. I, for the better part of 30 years, have always kept my commitments to others. What does that mean exactly? Well, let me lay it out for you. It means that I set aside time to work out or call my best friend or coach with my coach but instead I am in a meeting that runs over and someones asks me to help them with something so I say yes and I linger and suddenly I am speeding down the highway trying to make it home in time to keep my own commitment. I, in the moment, cannot set the boundary.
Another great example of this is less direct. I have this ideal self, this personal vision that is very clear and concrete. It is not set in stone, but it is aspirational and exciting. I want to own a tea and flower shop, I want to be an international coach who speaks on the subject of authenticity and managing grief. I want to build my company that supports women and encourages their growth and evolution. I want to publish my book on managing my own grief and living as a young adult after losing your mom. Do you see how clear it is? Sometimes I can even conjure the smell of the flower shop and feel what it would feel like to be in that space building community and spreading love. I can imagine sitting at a book signing connecting with people over the topic of grief. To me, this ideal self is very real and very possible.
However, in subtle ways I continue to choose other things over the ideal self. One of these ways is shopping. I LOVE fashion, I really do. But when I am deferring from the ideal self, which would be the self that is putting money away for my tea and flower shop or saving for that international trip to build my network, I shop. I pull up my Nordstrom app or head to my favorite local boutique and I try on things I cannot or would not afford if I were tracking toward my ideal self and I commit in that moment to choosing this fashion and persona self over the ideal. Why? Because shopping feels really really really good. A new pair of boots, there is just nothing like it. It is an immediate high, a satisfying act. It is what I have done for years. It has been my emotional release, my Diet Coke, my glass of wine…my gambling. I am addicted to the way it feels to have a new outfit.
I know this sounds ridiculous. But hear me out. I have actually had conversations in the dressing room staring at the price tag that have gone like this;
Ideal Self: Teresa, if you buy this dress, there is absolutely no way that you can invest in your tea shop over time! You will never have the savings you need to feel confident to make that leap. Trust me, I am thinking long term here, I have a plan.
Desperate Shopper Self: Ok, I know. I totally get it. But listen, I’ve been feeling really unfulfilled in my job, my dad isn’t doing well and I am really worried about him and I am so uninspired right now. This dress, this potential outfit is so comfortable. It makes me feel so good and I really need it, I need it to feel confident to actually ever attempt to own that tea shop and if I have this dress I will wear it and someone will notice me and then maybe I will be seen.
Victim Self: I work really hard. I am so tired. I give to everyone, all I do all day is help other people and give them what they need and take the meeting. I just want to do this one thing for myself. Just this ONE thing. Please! Let me!
Incredible right? I am so conscious of the addiction, of the thrill of the deflection that I can have a full on conversation with myself while in the dressing room trying on the clothes. It is so rational and tangible. Yet, the whole reason I spend money on things for myself the way I do is because I do not spend enough time actually committed to myself throughout the day. I give it away, all day long, all day I give it away to others and what they need and what is important to them. So after weeks of not committing to myself, I go shopping and I commit to myself in this way.
So how do we battle this honestly? How do we really courageously self commit when it feels so complicated? Yesterday we identified starting small. 15 minutes of writing a day I promised. Just don’t drink Diet Coke today, Rachel said. So what is next in that? How do we tie that commitment back to the ideal self? The one we envision and crave becoming? I have another trick to share.
While listening to an episode of Bulletproof Radio with David Aspey I heard Life Coach Brendon Buschard give his tips for high performance clients. Now, I want to preface this with high performance being relative. I don’t need to necessarily go out and maximize my work day like some warrior—although it could be immensely helpful. This concept can be applied to whatever you choose—maybe it is planning your day as a stay at home mom—really finding time to commit to yourself when you feel the chaos of your household and the kids running around and the pressures of meeting the needs of your family. Perhaps it is to plan to start your own business or to be healthier and have more energy. You get to define what matters to you and what high performance means to you.
But here it is—his go to advice for his high performing clients:
Articulate your ideal self. Just like I did by sharing with you my dream for the flower and tea shop and the grief book. Write down who you really want to become and what it means to be that person. Then look at it every single morning and remind yourself where you are headed.
Identify 3 key words that will help you remember throughout the day. Keep these words with you in a place you can access them. For example my words right now are; CREATIVE, CONFIDENT, PRESENT. When I feel the nudge to not self commit or to do something that doesn’t align with my ideal self I remember that those three things are key to me reaching my potential. Plus, confident reminds me to stick to my boundaries, and feel safe saying no.
Prioritize your day. Write down the things you are working on and that are important to you. Then write down what needs to be done to get there and who is involved. Then write down what must be done today to move those things forward. Not what must be done over time, just what must you do today to make progress on the ideal self.
Here is what happened to me when I further defined my priorities and my ideal self image. I decided that every day instead of shopping I would put $5 in a checking account for my future self. That comes out to $35 a week and $140 a month and $1680 a year. It is not astronomical and it is not out of my reach. It is small and tangible and measurable and it actually feels really good to make that electronic transfer. My ideal self is really happy and she is really excited about the possibility of opening up that flower and tea shop. And desperate shopper me is calm and understanding because she sees what is possible if we reach this goal. She also sees me investing in us, in choosing my self commitments over the needs of others. In short, she doesn’t feel the need to have that dramatic outlet of shopping to feel better because she feels better on a daily basis.
We can spend a lot of time in the past and a lot of time obsessed with the future. Or we can simply choose to invest in ourselves right now in this moment. Choose not to grab the Diet Coke out of the fridge, choose to spend 15 minutes at the top of the day doing something that you love. Choose you, and I promise that if you practice choosing you and you stay committed to yourself you will actually have more time and space to help others.
And as an aside; when I first heard Brendon’s system I let out a big sigh. It felt like a lot of work—does it really take all of this work to live the life I want to live? Do I really have to have all of this structure to carry out my ideal self? I know it seems daunting, especially if you aren’t feeling that well or perhaps battling some depression. I get it, sometimes the simplest task can seem like a snowy mountain you have to climb and staying in bed is much easier. I’ve been there. I challenge you to honor that part of you that is tired and overwhelmed and just stick to the one commitment that feels good. Take bite size steps toward how you want to feel and who you want to be. And if for today, you can simply just not grab the Diet Coke out of the refrigerator then that my friend, is a giant giant leap in the right direction. Any choice you make to honor yourself is worthy of celebration.
Thanks for reading. I will see you here tomorrow for day 3. Let me know in the comments what you’ve chosen to commit to and how you are going to hold yourself accountable. If you’d rather proclaim your commitment in private please shoot me a an email. I would love to hear about it and be your accountability partner! firstname.lastname@example.org
Your Future Tea and Flower Shop Owner and Published Author, Teresa