Right now, here today, I am making a commitment. You may be thinking: Well, there is no surprise in that, January is the traditional time to be making commitments. Why should you be interested in this commitment from me? How is this any different?
This commitment from me is unique for many reasons. And those reasons may resonate with you.
I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. I write about this every year. For me, New Year’s resolutions go against the natural flow of life energy. Spring makes more sense to me, to be surging ahead with vim and vigor, with change and challenge, because that is when you have the energy to do so as nature is with you — the days are becoming warmer and lighter and longer. You naturally have more energy for this change. Not in winter. Nor summer (in the southern hemisphere). Read more about my theory on this here.
Instead, I choose a theme to adhere to throughout the year. It means I don’t have the February 7 “drop off” of commitment but aim to be focused and successful the whole year through with my goals.
I don’t like a failure, and I am a little bit lazy. As a recovering perfectionist, entering into an activity used to only happen when I was completely and totally confident I would be able to do it. And ones that required the least effort on my part. There are many projects and “things I’d like to do one day” I’ve filed away for occasional reference. There’s also the odd wistful “Oh yes, I had intended to do that; that’s a shame…” that have been stalled by the fear of not achieving something perfectly or it being a little hard. “Carpe diem” would never be my motto. I am too much a creature of habit and comfort. I have a strong sense of self-preservation. I like routine, not risk. I like to know what is going on so I can prepare for it if necessary. I like planning and preparation as it builds up expectations and excitement. I like something to look forward to. I tend to think things through to the point I miss out on opportunities because I’ve taken too long to make up my mind.
Instead this new commitment for 2016 completely takes me out of that comfort zone and into one of “just doing it” regardless of the end result. I am honing my intuition to go with the gut and the more instant decision. This time it is all about “carpe diem” and the positive rewards behind challenge and effort.
I don’t do self-belief. Well, I do and I don’t. I like my comfort zone and I do well at what I know I do well at. I believe I am very good at what I allow myself to do within the “safe” walls of my ability and achievements. It is the untapped potential lurking in the shadows which I haven’t fully unleashed that totally scares my inner recovering perfectionist, sends alarm bells ringing about risk and failure and has stopped me from perhaps surging forward and being more; doing more.
Instead this commitment means I am thinking less, believing more. Believing so much more.
So what is this big commitment that is shaking up my world so much? What is it which is challenging and scary and got me fired up?
I am committing to my life.
My husband and I had a conversation the other night that saw us still talking at 4:30 a.m. It was one of those life-changing, connecting, significant conversations which will stay with me for a long time. In a life where we both have our own businesses, a child, family, and friends, conversations can run into the mundane and routine: conversations about school pick-up, household chores, the cat’s trip the vet and what might be for dinner…
This conversation was very different. It was HUGE. It was amazing and had me thinking.
Recently I have been confronted with the realization that my “visit” to the UK from New Zealand has been 15 years long. 15 years! That is a long time to not stay in a country. That is a long time to be not making a life in a country. And yet, I’ve been doing just that for the last 15 years.
The internal critic in me has been shouting, “What have you got to show for that 15 years?!”, “What have you been DOING all this time?!” While it would be a simple, easy, and old habit to follow that train of thought and list all the things I haven’t done in that time, this time I am not doing that.
I know I have an amazing husband, a wonderful daughter, and blessed life. I have been doing many things in the past 15 years. That does not mean however I want to wake one day in another 15 years’ time and wonder: Where did that time go? What have I got to show for my life?
This reflection and conclusion may have something to do with my 40th birthday occurring in 2016. This may be a mid-life crisis, as a friend so kindly described my new burning desire to cycle 60 miles from London to Oxford. But it is just one example of something I’ve harbored doing for a few years now and really not followed through on. It may be I want to plant my flag at the summit of my life’s achievements and say “Here I am, THIS is what I’ve been doing all these years!” and know I am proud of what lies beneath rather than standing in a stupor, staring at a flat wasteland and wondering what went wrong.
Am I ready to challenge myself more? Yes.
Do I want to be an active participant in all life has to offer? YES!
Do I want to add more in my life, perhaps more stress? No. Not knowingly but the greatest sense of achievement often comes out of the toughest challenges.
I don’t want to softly and passively ride through the next 15 years of my life. I want to be proactive and engaged in my life. I want to be able to look back with pride and look forward with excited anticipation.
Are you with me?
7 ways to commit to life and not let time slide away…
- Decide what things you want to do. Put dates in your diary. Book tickets, make calls, share your plan. Commit to it FULLY.
- Be mindful. It takes practice, but it is the art of channeling your inner toddler and being completely absorbed in the moment, at the moment. When you want to slow time and not let it slide away, notice yourself, your environment. Notice everything. Be conscious. Step out for a bit – time will march on, but it’s your choice to follow it blindly or not. Slow down. Live in time, don’t chase it.
- Believe in yourself. Achievement and failure go hand in hand and there never really is any ‘failure’. With the right mind-set, it is all about learning points about what to do next time instead.
- You can’t necessarily do everything. Choose one BIG thing and a couple of other smaller things you want to focus on. There is a lot of life to do things in now you’ve committed to it, you don’t need to do everything all at once.
- Become a Storyteller. Memories and things which are important to us stay in our minds through repetition, like our PIN numbers for instance. If you want to feel time has slowed, return to the memory and tell the story of it as often as you can. Memories embed more solidly with each re-telling and you can more easily return to that memory with each re-telling. This recall also allows us to remember our achievements through time more accurately. You have achieved a lot in the last 15 years when you look back on specific instances and events.
- Take time to ponder each day – how it went, what you did, how you were. This practice helps to plan for the next day and identifies the beginnings of your stories. Reflection also helps to take stock of where “busyness” has overridden the “moments.”
- Take action. Today. Now. Like I said before, time will march on, regardless. It has no loyalty to your aspirations; it has no sympathy for your insecurities. It will not pander to your fears.
Are you with me?
This article was written on the 13th December. It was very serendipitous that while writing I was notified of the date confirmation of the London to Oxford cycle race for 2016. I’ve booked it…
Photo Credit: Jay Kudva