The magic of making teeny-tiny commitments
Have you broken your 2020 resolution(s) yet?
If not, awesome!
But if so, don't worry, we got this. We're going to start over in a better way.
The secret is in the size of the commitments.
We must be brave enough to make teeny tiny commitments—something small enough that you just can't not do it.
For instance, my commitments this January had to do with meditation, working out, and writing. They fell through because they were too big. I wanted to meditate 30 minutes a day every day, work out for an hour twice a week, and write every day. As moderate as that sounded to me, it was still way too much.
So I decided to go tiny. Meditation: I decided to meditate for five minutes every day. I can do anything for five minutes. That worked.
Working out: The thought of going to the gym for an hour was a nonstarter. I’d think about the extra forty minutes (twenty there, twenty back), and for some reason, an hour and forty minutes twice a week…it just never happened. I ended up tricking myself with a hilariously tiny goal: Just physically enter the gym three times a week. I didn’t have to stay, I just had to be there physically.
Naturally, since I was already there, I did the treadmill, I lifted some weights, I fooled around on the machines. And before I knew it, I’d spent a half-hour there. I did it by committing to just opening the doors and walking in. (The flip side of that is that I had complete permission to just walk in and walk right back out again. But I never did it that way.)
Writing: This was a little harder to track because I didn’t make it specific enough or measurable. “Write every day” could (and did) mean much more than I could accomplish. So I’m actually rebooting that commitment right here with you watching. My new writing goal is to post to Medium, imperfectly, every day. It can be a haiku. It can be a thought for the day. It can be using one of my photos as a writing prompt. It can be one sentence. It can even be a journal entry. The point is to stop trying to be perfect. That’s the only criterion. Just be imperfect. (Stop for a minute and feel the freedom in that.)
The photo at the top of this post is a picture of exactly how we should treat our New Year’s resolutions. They’re babies. And because they’re babies, we should keep three things in mind: 1. Hold them by their hands so they don’t fall. 2. Bracket them with our grownup feet. 3. Celebrate when they follow through.
1. Hold them by their hands so they don’t fall.
Focus on a resolution you made at the beginning of this year.
Now, think of this resolution not as a mandate or a drill sergeant. Think of it as a baby. It’s probably going to fall if you don’t anticipate helping in some way. So hold it by its chubby little hands.
This means don’t rely on whether you feel like doing it or not. You do it no matter what. With your much more grownup wisdom, and with your index fingers as the steadying handholds for your baby resolution, do the thing anyway, whatever you said you’d do. Even when you don’t feel like it.
2. Bracket them with your grownup feet. You don’t just push your resolutions forward, saying, “Good luck!” You give them your fingers to hold onto, and you walk with them as they take their adorable, lurching, uneven steps forward. What does this mean in real life?
It means that you stay conscious of your intent. Maybe you write the goal down every day in a journal. Maybe you have it on your fridge or your bathroom mirror. You strategize for success by making sure you remember your resolution. That's you going with your resolution into the day. That’s the big, adult feet bracketing your baby attempts at keeping the resolution.
3. Help them pace themselves. See what a big step the baby is trying to take in the picture? We’re all going to do that. We want to be awesome. We want to go BIG. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a wonderful human trait when channeled appropriately. So, with them holding onto your fingers, and with your feet bracketing theirs, be the loving presence for your own resolutions. Keep them doable. Pace yourself. And definitely celebrate once you’ve followed through!
Think of how you react when a very small child has walked his or her first steps (or even their tenth or twentieth)? That’s how happy you should be with yourself. Feed that desire to do well, to grow, to follow through. Yay for you!
In closing, let’s remember these three things when recommitting to resolutions: 1) Remember to follow through whether we feel like it or not, 2) Stay conscious of what we’ve committed to doing, and 3) Keep the commitments doable, and celebrate like hell once we’ve followed through.
Start over today with me? Let me know if this resonated with you. Have a wonderful rest of the day, wherever you are in the world.
May all beings benefit.