Why you need to rethink being fully committed.
I damaged my knee on Sunday morning. I have been ignoring a dull pain for several weeks and now I have limited mobility.
I go for a long walk on Sundays on a trail near my house. I call it going to church. It is so good for my soul. It's my happy place. I was about one kilometre in, and my knee was starting to hurt, but I decided to push on.
I was distracted after seeing an Eastern Phoebe near the creek. I continued to ignore the pain and look for more birds. Three kilometres later, I was in tears hiking up a hill from the trail to the street. I found a bench and called my husband to come and get me. I could barely put my weight on my leg all day. I had a conversation with my health coach about my knee pain and how frustrated I am because it holds me back from reaching my goals. I like to check off walking every day on my tracking sheet!
I was also curious to see what I needed to learn from this setback. What was my body telling me? I am aware that how we approach one thing in our lives is probably how we will approach everything. So I started unpacking what happened.
When Eugenie and I began working together, I created a health and wellness vision. (I use a similar process when I work with clients in any area of their lives.) I came up with what I felt was a compelling vision. I created some goals, and then I decided how I would achieve those goals. And that is where things go sideways for me.
I lean towards being an all-or-nothing person. I’ve been working on figuring out where the messages I have internalized came from. Maybe you hear them in your head as well? Here are some of the ones that I am trying to dismantle:
If you aren’t going to commit 100%, don’t bother.
We fail not because of lack of desire but because of lack of commitment
Decide, Commit, Succeed
You are either in, or you are out. There is no in-between.
There is no such thing as a part-time commitment.
These beliefs lead me to some very black and white thinking when it comes to how I live. I’m all in, or I’m not. I am either successful, or I am a failure. I walk for an hour every day, or I’m not hitting the mark.
This approach does yield results in my life. I love tracking my progress. But what I realized this week is that I can be so focused on checking offthe things I need to do every day that I don’t check in with myself. I can be ignoring the warning signs like a sore knee. Being all in can lead to black and white thinking. It becomes all or nothing thinking. If anything less than 100% is a failure, why bother? Of course, I am not talking just about the physical realm. We can do this in all areas of our lives. We can be so intent on doing things that we’ve committed to in the past that we ignore that we aren’t really getting any benefit from them anymore. Or even more seriously, they are hurting us and keeping us from living the life we really want to live.
What might this look like in your life?
You do things even though you want to quit because you committed to them.
You do things because you 'should,' not because you want to do them.
You are afraid to try something new in case you don't like it and quit because of the optics of quitting.
You are acting in a way that is out of alignment with what you really believe.
You tell yourself, "I had one cookie. I might as well eat the whole package."
You binge on Netflix, Pinterest, social media, eating, drinking or anything else because it's all or nothing in your mind.
If you can't do something perfectly, daily or forever, there is no point in doing it at all.
Whether you are overcoming people-pleasing, learning to live a soul-centered life or wanting to make a change in any area of your life. Checking in with yourself and getting clarity on whether or not your life is aligned with who you are now and what you want is essential. It takes time and attention to hear yourself. It can take courage to decide to act on what you hear. And it can be life-changing to start speaking your truth. Commitment and discipline are great tools to achieve your goals. Being rigid and inflexible to the point of believing you're a failure if you miss a day or want to stop an activity can keep you from living the life you really want.
As my coach said to me this week, “Maybe that knee injury has been a real gift for you.” I think so. I'm making a mind shift. Instead of focusing on checking off the boxes, I'm checking in with myself and making sure I'm not ignoring any warning signs. I want to make sure that list reflects what I really want in my life.
And if I miss a few days of exercising, journaling or whatever else is on that list? That's OK.