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The Most Important Commitments we Make are the Commitments we Make to Ourselves

The Most Important Commitments we Make are the Commitments we Make to Ourselves

How many times have we realized running between meetings…headed for the airport…cramming in fast food because we haven’t got time to eat…missing that wellness check at the doctor’s office…that we haven’t made time for US and the things we have been meaning to get to?  A few years ago I embarked on a journey of personal change and trying to figure out how to make that change stick.

I was tired of being tired, overweight and not being the best me I could be.  I knew that meant setting boundaries in my personal & professional life and keeping the commitments to myself no matter what else was happening.  

Let me tell you…that is easier said than done!

As a bit of background, I am the breadwinner of the family with my husband making the ultimate sacrifice 15 years ago to give up his mechanical engineering career to stay at home with our two girls.  Even though it is a daunting to know to know that you are solely responsible for the livelihood and well-being of your family it is one that I relish and I am proud of. 

Having said that…I was so used to saying “yes” to everything that I forgot how to say “no”.  In climbing the corporate ladder and trying to be super mom…super wife…super friend…

I woke up one day and realized that to be the best me I needed to be… so I could be the best for everyone else…change was needed. 

That meant setting boundaries for myself…

1. Eating right. 

  • Smaller meals more frequently and counting calories.
  • Meal planning and packing my snacks & lunch for work (carrying your “lunch pail” to work can be humbling and you should wear it as a badge of honor).
  • Looking up restaurant menus before heading out to work or family events to make your choices before you get there

2. Saying no to alcohol.  This wasn’t a lifelong change but one aligned with ensuring good choices were made to maintain what I was building.  I drank a lot of soda water and lime at after work events to give the illusion of playing along.

3. Going to the Gym.  I worked out 2-3 times a week but the biggest commitment I made (and never varied from) was running 5 miles on the treadmill every Saturday

4. Writing.  While I ran each Saturday I listened to music and reflected on the week…what went well…what didn’t and what I learned.  When I came home from the gym I spent an hour or two writing down my “deep thoughts from the gym”.  

These commitments…these boundaries were non-negotiable and my family knew that. 

No one bothered Mom or planned things between 8:30 am and 1:00 pm on Saturday mornings.  Most importantly…I didn’t plan anything else and showed up each week no matter what else was going on.

Things like…

  • Work emails that needed to be responded to after being on the road all week
  • Having a cold or not feeling up to it (I call these the whiny baby excuses)
  • Family issues or stress.   (In the peak of raising teenage girls it is mentally tough to break away when you know there is drama at home)
  • Holidays where you eat and drink too much
  • Vacation

Not only did committing to these rituals achieve the health benefits I was looking for – it also helped bring about incredible personal change. Not just change for that moment…but change that was built to last.  It also set the precedence I needed to continue to set boundaries in my life.

"true change takes time, commitment, pain, heartache, will power, consistency and a hell of a lot of support"

Here are my deep thoughts on change that came about one Saturday from running and writing early in the process….

Taking on true Change is about looking yourself in the mirror and seeing yourself for the first time as you really are. It is about that moment when the reflection doesn’t match what your potential or capabilities are. Once you have experienced that moment of clarity and acceptance, it is then about finding a path forward. It is also about breaking it down into simple components and doing one or two things differently each day.

These changes feel unnatural, painful and hard at times because of years of bad habits. Habits that must be broken to achieve the change and create new habits that are more productive and effective to achieve what you are truly capable of. Many times along the journey, you will slip back into old habits because they are comfortable, familiar and seem easier. There are also many “stories” and excuses for why the new habits cannot be achieved but the end must always be kept in mind.

Often along the way, you cannot even see the progress you are making and the changes are so small that you are fooled into thinking that you are not making progress. People often think that change should just happen in a big way in a short period of time and are discouraged when they find out that is not the case. True change means that you have re-written the “story” and that those habits that once seemed unnatural and hard are now a part of who you are, how you operate without you even having to think about it.

When you look back on what was and you finally look at the reflection at what is – you will be shocked and surprised about how far you have come, how much you have achieved and how easy it is to now maintain and build upon what you have done.

The key to continued success in change is celebrating when you have achieved your goals, but not declaring you are done. There is always a chance you could slip back - so strive every day to do one more thing differently and better.

Leadership Questions of the week for YOU! 

  • What boundaries have you set in your personal and professional life to enable YOUR personal change program?
  • What are your deep thoughts on Change?
  • How can leaders motivate themselves and others to adopt a mentality of change to continuously improve knowing it is really (read really) hard?
  • Knowing that change is personal how do we as leaders empower our people to adopt change programs so they feel as passionate about them as we need them to?

Thanks for reading....YOU make a difference!

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