Today, on July 4th – a day associated with independence in the U.S. – I challenge you to ask yourself: how can you become a tiny bit freer?
You have the power to free yourself from self-defeating habits and patterns that deplete your energy, power, and self-esteem. But first, you must commit to changing.
Committing to yourself is the biggest, most important commitment you will make.
Is it worth it? Absolutely. So why do we make it so difficult?
I recently witnessed a miracle: a client committed to stop smoking cigarettes! She had been waffling over whether she was ready to quit, whether she could do it, and whether this cigarette truly would be her last one. She had skirted this pivotal decision for decades, despite knowing how greatly quitting would benefit her.
Upon initially setting her physical health goals with me, not smoking was a priority; however, her motivation to quit was sorely lacking. Several months later, she finally reached the tipping point. She could no longer deny that she had every reason to quit – that all her reasons for not quitting were lies. Rather than continuing the decades-long debate of whether she was finally ready to quit, she decided. She committed. And she handed her cigarettes (and lighter) over to me. Willingly.
Talk about a commitment! By declaring herself smoke-free, she instantly created greater freedom in her life.
Can you relate to my client? What negative habit have you held onto, despite it not serving you? Where could you liberate yourself in life? What is holding you back?
Frequently, we know a change is necessary. We want to make the change, but we lack the requisite level of motivation.
My client knew how physically harmful smoking is. Most smokers know. But that wasn’t enough motivation for her to quit. She needed to look deeper. She recognized that smoking took up her valuable time. Instead of spending time with friends and family, engaging in hobbies, or working out, she would isolate outside to smoke, sneak out of parties or social gatherings to smoke, and run to the store to re-stock on cigarettes.
Another huge benefit to her commitment to quit for good was the liberation of her attention. She ‘d been wasting valuable mental real estate thinking about when she’d have her next cigarette, whether she needed to buy more, and whether her partner could smell the smoke on her. By deciding that she had quit, she made it easier for herself to say, when the urge to smoke arose, “No, I don’t smoke anymore.”* The debate was over; she could think about other things.
In sum, in addition to the clear physical advantages of snuffing out her habit, my client recognized how her commitment to stop had instantly freed up her time, attention, and energy.
“But Lily, I like to keep my options open.”
I hear you! Let’s reframe the “c” word.
The word “commitment” tends to carry a negative connotation (typically in the romantic relationship arena). What I've experienced (and seen my clients experience) is this: commitments benefit not just the promisor (the commitment-maker) but those around her. Upon committing, the promisor frees her time and energy by saying “yes” or “no.” By saying “I’ll be there” instead of “I’m not sure; let me get back to you,” she frees her time, attention, and energy to focus on more important questions rather than whether or not she will go.
By committing, your options actually expand rather than contract.
Knowing she won’t be smoking anymore, for example, my client scheduled a teeth-whitening appointment – something she’d wanted to do for a very long time but had refrained from booking because she didn’t want to whiten her teeth and then continue smoking, yellowing her beautiful smile again. She had stunted her own self-esteem by her non-committal tendencies. Now, upon committing to her smo-briety, she has opened herself to new experiences.
Make no mistake: quitting smoking is a large, life-altering commitment. Its effects are arguably tremendously more impactful than deciding to go to dinner next Tuesday. However, even the small commitments to see your friend on that day, at that time, and at that place, create and reinforce self-esteem and the belief in ourselves that we can follow through on our word. We are capable.
By committing and following through, you show your brain that you can, and you will, follow through on your word. You show your brain you are capable. You demonstrate your own ability to follow through on your word -- not just to the other person, but, most importantly, your word to yourself. You can commit. You can change. You can create a life that you love.
What is one tiny action that you will commit to and fulfill? Your commitment doesn’t have to be as seemingly big as stopping smoking. It could be deciding to go to dinner with friends two weeks from now and making a reservation. Small changes lead to big results.
If you’re ready for change but unsure how to start, book a complimentary clarity call with me. We’ll spend 30 minutes discussing your goals, where you’re getting off track, and options to get you back on the road to success!
*The “one day at a time” approach espoused in many recovery circles can absolutely apply when committing to big changes like getting sober or stopping smoking. Your commitment would be to take the change one day at a time.