The Long Haul
Thursdays have become my favorite day, because it is the day I have my accountability call and get to connect and synergize with my amazing group-mates. And, along with that comes one of my favorites moments. If you’ve participated in the Accountability Works program, maybe you can relate.
Picture this. After each group member has shared their week’s gratitudes, you bask in the positive energy and finish up the accountability call glowing and refreshed. You hang up with a smile and take a nice deep breath in, and relax with a long sigh of release. Another great week in the bag. Now, on to the next. You take a peek at your new list of commitments. And, face palm. “WHY did I…?!?”
Yeah, that moment.
That was me this past week. Granted after most calls, I feel renewed and excited about my new commitments. And, there are definitely those times when I get a little carried away with my expectations for the coming week. I would think that I would’ve learned by now, this being my fourth time around the Accountability Works block, not to pile up the To-do’s on my commitment sheets. Still, my commitments this time were nine lines deep. I did exactly what I encourage my coaching clients NOT to do.
I’ve come to value this very moment right after the call, as it acts as a necessary gauge that shows me where I am at in my process of growth -- if I am challenging myself, if I am using my commitments to serve me and my purpose, if I have my mind on right, if I am making progress. And, most importantly at this point in my figuring-out-what-works journey, if what I am doing is sustainable.
Completing my commitments 100% week after week definitely puts me on the right track as it builds momentum, self-integrity, character, and self-trust, all part of a foundation for success. And, keeping my agreements, especially nine of them, means that I surely am getting some good work done in the direction towards my best self. Progress, right?
After the initial shock, I look over my commitments again, and remember WHY it is that I have chosen to undergo this process of accountability and why I chose these specific commitments -- to be the best me, really. As much as I want to say that nine commitments is too many, when I dig deep and ask myself the tough questions, I tell myself it is not. I’ve committed to more in the past. I assure myself that these are the things that I need to do this week. And, the fact that I am feeling the stretch means I’m growing. Progress is being made, right?
While all these points are valid, I must hone in and give some weight to how I feel and to my body’s sensations in that moment after the call when I re-read my new commitments. I feel stretched, challenged, uncomfortable. Yes, all healthy and a necessary part of growth. And then, there’s also the pressure, stress, nervousness, tightness.
Having learned to listening closely, I know this is not right; this does not work for me. I realized I have taken the wrong approach this week, thinking MORE and FASTER is better. It’s kind of like when you’re in yoga class and you bend down to touch your toes to stretch your back and hamstrings. Right now your fingertips reach your shins, but you want them to be at your toes. You want to get better, faster, so you reach further, maybe too far down outside your current range of motion. Yay for faster progress! Well, not if you injure yourself.
Here’s the key. I ask myself, “Can I do this again next week, and the week after that, for the rest of my life?”
The answer is no.
When it comes down to it, making true progress is all about healthy, steady, mindful, and sustainable growth. What good is progress, or success even, if you cannot sustain it, if you push so hard that you cannot handle rapid growth. You end uptaking yourself out and killing any momentum you’ve built up.
Now, I am not saying that you should chicken out or step down from making aggressive commitments or taking leaps. Commitments, in the context of the Accountability Works process, should be aggressive and stretch you past certain limits. What I am saying is to pay attention to the process and be mindful of the bigger picture of what you are trying to achieve in the long run.
For me, this bigger picture of success is self-transformation as a process, via a healthy mindset and the mindful practice of positive habits (while having fun). Progressive transformation can only occur through patience and sustainable commitments over the long haul, for the rest of my life. Not this aggressive weekly task-completion and burnout cycle that I’ve subjected myself to in the past.
As Stephen Covey, Jeff Olson, Robin Sharma, Napoleon and many other personal development experts have emphasized, it is not enough simply to change your behaviors and actions to accomplish your big vision. To change your life, to get to where you aim to be, to experience transformation, you must change your mindset and philosophy. These are what give shape to your behaviors and more importantly give fuel to sustain you along your (long-term) personal growth journey. Keep in mind, that progress does not stop.
I will say, that while I was a bit stressed, I did enjoy the process this week of completing my commitments. I had to step back for a minute here and there to give myself a mindset check. And I’m happy for the learning I’ve experienced. I’ve regained clarity of the bigger picture behind all that I am doing. I remember why I get so excited to the point that I want to spit out a g’zillion commitments. I love what I do and I am passionate about my dreams. Reconnecting with my love of service and people is the best sustenance.
Will I make the same commitment list this Thursday for next week? Probably not. And that is because I know that to keep going, it is going to take mindfulness, patience, and an enjoyment of the process. I’m in it for the long haul. Are you?