As the 5:30pm class time approached I kept glancing at the clock.
At 4:45pm I told myself that I needed to get my workout clothes on.
I didn’t move.
At 5:00pm, I reminded myself to get up and get dressed because I needed to leave in 15 minutes. Instead, I continued to be rooted in my chair, trying to figure out how to get some video files off my camera and onto the computer. Not an urgent task but one I wanted to finish in order to feel a sense of completion for the day.
At 5:15pm I told myself if I didn’t leave this exact moment I would not be able to find a spot in the class.
I still did not move.
At 5:25pm I realized, with a mixture of relief and regret…
…“Well, it’s too late, I’ve missed it.”
In that moment, I gave up on my commitment to myself for the day.
I still hadn’t figured out how to transfer the files. I tried to concentrate on the task in front of me. Argghhhh. (Picture black cloud of frustration over my head).
Then, I felt the guilt slowly creep in.
It goaded me into at least changing gears. If I was giving up on my commitment to myself for the day, I better at least show up for my family. Funny how this shift happens so easily in my head, as a way to justify my actions. So, I decided to bake a dish for dinner I had planned to make for the next day.
I went into the kitchen and put on music to keep me company and distract me from the guilt I felt in my gut. It was 5:27pm.
The music on my iPod is the soundtrack for my dance classes. The beats always get me up when I’m feeling down.
The minute I heard the first notes of the first song, something in me clicked.
I gotta get to class, I realized in that instant.
I need to keep my commitment to myself.
No matter how uncomfortable it feels to me in this moment.
No matter how late I am.
I didn’t even bother to change my clothes. I grabbed my keys, hopped in the car, and sped over there.
I snagged the absolute last spot in the classroom, right in front just inside the door, where I had to look into the mirror to see the teacher. And I stood right next to the garbage can. Not the primo spot, for sure.
It didn’t matter, I knew the dance moves. I can do them just hearing the music cues and glancing over at the teacher every once in a while.
I smiled at my Zumba friends and teacher as I started to move. With a sense of relief, I realized that it was 5:37. I only missed 7 minutes!
And when class finished, I felt great. Rejuvenated. Relaxed.
And most importantly, like I had kept my commitment to myself.
No matter how messy or difficult it had felt or resistant I had been coming into it.
In the euphoria of post-Zumba, I felt congruent with my goals for my life, like I’m doing the work I need to be doing to be the best me I can be.
Even if I have to keep making this commitment to myself over and over again.
This experience reminds me of what I repeatedly hear from my coaching clients and from colleagues I interview who are successfully earning a living doing what they love. They all say that having structure, support and accountability in place is essential when endeavoring to change your life.
I’m continually reminded – both personally and professionally – that making change in our lives, whether in the form of career transformation or meeting personal goals, takes on-going, repeated commitment to make happen. To use the physical fitness metaphor, it takes exercising the muscle over and over, taking small steps every day to realize big results.
It can be very difficult to do it for yourself. Even when you build it into your schedule like I do Zumba. I’ve got it on my calendar and I have arranged my childcare schedule around it. And it’s still hard!
When it’s your own stuff you’re trying to change, it can be challenging to stay the course on your own.
Self-motivation can flag.
Today I invite you to surround yourself with structure, support and accountability to help you stay on track towards what you most want for your life. Whether you set up a visual or auditory cue (like my dance music), arrange weekly accountability calls or walks with a close friend or enlist professional support, the important thing is to get it in place to motivate you.
So you can keep meeting your commitment to yourself, over and over again.
That is the path to success.
I welcome your comments.