The other morning, I woke up, got out of bed, and peeked out the back door. It was cold and rainy. My kitty, Remy, took a few steps onto the porch and ran back in. Our hot Texas summer had just skipped over fall and landed smack dab into winter. 40 degrees is not winter in most places, but in Texas, I’m calling it winter.
This would not normally be an issue. However, 33 days ago, I had made a “do or die” commitment to meditate outside on my bench every day for 365 days. Crazy idea, right? That’s what I was thinking that morning. For the first month, I’d managed with the swarms of mosquitoes and sticky, humid mornings, but there is a reason I moved from NJ to TX. I can’t take the cold. 23andMe says I have some Neanderthal blood, but honestly, I’m feeling more of a reptilian thing going on.
I shut the door and tip-toed back to my warm bed. Ahhh…. it felt so good. The comforting thought came to me that I hadn’t actually told anyone I was committing to meditate outside every day for a year. To a few folks, I’d only declared my intention to meditate. I never qualified where. I told myself, if I meditate inside today, who would know? I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep.
But I couldn’t. I felt restless. Something was nagging at me. After about 5 minutes, I got up and opened the back door again. Still cold. Still rainy. Then it hit me. I had made a commitment. I made that commitment because I was feeling stuck in an area of my life (it’s actually easier for me to help others get unstuck!). I had this feeling that if I committed to something that challenged me and took me out of my comfort zone, it might help me get unstuck. Staying in bed was giving in to the stuckness.
So I put on my rain jacket and plastic cycling pants and grabbed my umbrella. Yes, it was cold and wet. And the rain kept coming. But I ended up having a delightful time. Remy even ran out to join me for a few minutes.
It was really empowering to push through the resistance to something uncomfortable. By the end of my meditation, I could hardly sit still on the bench, I was so pumped with energy. I was half-expecting to take flight with my umbrella.
One of the main reasons why I’m telling this story is because I have come to believe that the single most powerful tool we have when we are making changes in our lives is a “do or die” commitment.
Too often, we wish for change or say we will try, but we don’t fully commit to going after what we want.
A “do or die” commitment can be as simple as, “I AM going to be happier in my career and have quality time for my family. I WILL DO whatever it takes to make this happen.”
When you make a “do or die” commitment, you are doing something powerful. You’re saying to yourself,
“I believe in you. I believe you have what it takes to do this!”
This mindset is so important, because what often gets in our way is a barrage of motivation-zapping thoughts, such as:
I don’t know where to begin.
I need to see all the steps.
I’m not sure I have what it takes.
Other people are better than me.
What if I fail?
These limiting thoughts are so not rocket fuel. In fact, they are anti-rocket fuel. They are the wet blankets that can put out the wildfire of our dreams.
If you want to make changes in your career, but you don’t know exactly how to move beyond stuck, this is normal and not a deal-breaker. Start with a “do or die” commitment for something you desire. Let’s call this your “Big C” commitment. Then make a “Little c” commitment action step to doing something WITHOUT FAIL on a regular basis to support your overarching goal.
Here are a few examples of “Do or Die” Commitments:
Big C – I will do everything in my power to have work I enjoy by 2020.
Little c – I will spend 2 hours every week working on my career direction.
Big C – I will get healthy and in shape by the summer of 2019.
Little c – I will exercise three times a week and prepare food for the week on Sundays.
Big C – I will write a novel by 2020.
Little c – I will write 2,500 words a week on my novel.
Big C – I will be out of debt in 5 years.
Little c – I will devote one hour a week to my finances until I have a good plan in place to be out of debt.
The Little c commitment needs to be as strong as the Big C commitment. It is called “little,” not because it is insignificant, but because it is a smaller step, that when repeated consistently, will help take you to your Big C commitment. We can get overwhelmed by a goal that seems unobtainable, but each of us has the power to take one step at a time.
The SECRET of success is that as you keep your commitments to yourself, you send a powerful message to your subconscious that you have faith in yourself.
And that faith in self, combined with the carbon fibers of commitment, transforms our desires from mere wishes to marching orders.
So if you are feeling weak on faith in yourself, your Little c commitments will start to build that faith. Through keeping a commitment, even when it’s hard or uncomfortable, you start to trust yourself more. What could have been feelings of guilt and self-reproach are instead feelings of self-confidence, and that is rocket fuel. So then the next challenge becomes not only more doable but even enticing.
If you’d like to make your own “Do or Die” Commitments for 2019 and beyond, you are welcome to download this Commitment Worksheet to get started! If you’d like to share your commitments with me, please feel free to send them to my confidential email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Postscript – I ended up doing 400 consecutive days of meditation. The day after I spoke at the SEAK Nonclinical Careers Conference, I totally forgot and broke my streak. But it’s OK, the commitment worked. I was completely freed from feeling stuck. I didn’t ever achieved that inner state of a quiet mind but the external aspects of my life improved greatly.