Commitment. A word we hear often in many contexts — relationships, war efforts, diets, and even insane asylums (we all know a couple of people we think ought to be committed). According to Dictionary.com, “commit” comes from the Latin “com + mittere” meaning “to send, give over.”
When I meet with new clients, at some point I ask if they are ready to “do this.” Are they committed to making it work? All of them say yes. Yet, not all of them stick with it. Some quit, fall out, give up, disappear — one frankly said she didn’t want to “address her food” and that was that. At least she was honest.
Everyone says they are “committed,” but they aren’t. They might like the idea of it, the sound of it, but based on results, they aren’t fully on board. Why? Do they underestimate the extent of their statements? Unable to see the long-range impact of what being committed truly means? Are they just telling me what I want to hear to keep the peace? Perhaps they have a pattern of incomplete goals (maybe even some hints of wholesale avoidance so no sting of failure is ever felt). Maybe they don’t like having to surrender. What is it?
My gut says the ones who fall out have not developed their internal systems — wrapped their minds around what it means to “commit.” They don’t understand you must “give yourself over” to something (or just aren’t willing). They think they comprehend what commitment means, but they aren’t able to envision the day-to-day moments where it gets hard. After the emotional high of starting a new program wears off, the daily grind sets in. There’s no “commitment” (internal workings) to see them through the tough spots and quitting becomes attractive.
I know everyone is capable of commitment. I can’t think of a soul who wouldn’t lose 20 pounds for $10 million. They’d be out to dinner, facing down a molten lava cake, and say, “No thank you, I’m losing 20 pounds.” Or their friends would say, “Oh come on, skip the gym and meet us for happy hour.” They’d say, “Can’t do that,” and would gleefully stride off to a workout. Committed.
The challenge begins when the commitment goes from extrinsic to intrinsic. Some of us have yet to develop a deep ability to generate internal commitments. That’s why we hire trainers, join office “weight loss pools,” and sign contracts. Extrinsically motivated commitments are a little easier to keep. But to make it for the long haul, we’ve got to dig deep and generate those internal systems aimed at creating and fulfilling intrinsically motivated commitments.
When you are contemplating your next goal, a relationship, a college degree, getting out of debt, or losing weight, take some time to reflect on your ability to internally commit. Wrap yourself in the notion of “do it ‘til you’re done.” Picture yourself climbing into a canoe alone, floating away from the shore amidst white water rapids, you and your paddle are all that can get you safely to the calm pool below, no turning back, no do-overs, get down there or drown. When you nudge yourself away from the muddy river’s edge, out of reach of nary a tree limb or rock, you have committed yourself to the ride.
Create that white water canoe ride inside yourself and you are well on your way to being a committed person. And I don’t mean the Cuckoo’s Nest kind.
• NSCA certified personal trainer Shannon Sorrels has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and an MBA. Her Ahwatukee-based company, Physix LLC, works with Valley individuals and groups to improve their overall fitness. Reach her at (480) 528-5660 or visit www.azphysix.com.