This may be a little shocking considering my tendency to over-commit, but I’m not big on commitments. Or accountability. Tell me I should to do something and my inner teenager immediately throws on her combat boots and fishnets, shaves her hair into a mohawk and throws up two middle fingers in the air in the face of your expectations while defiantly yelling, “Don’t should on me!”
For whatever reason, I am not driven by accountability to others. Timelines, deadlines, promises… all fluid to me. Which is incredibly frustrating to many around me - just ask my accountant. Or every college professor I had in undergrad. Or every project manager who has ever had to work with me. Or my mother who likes the share the story of how I came home after the first day of third grade and proclaimed that she was no longer “the boss of me.”
I am proud of my operating system - I like that I’m internally driven, but it can get maddening when I really need to get shit done. Many people can turn to a friend or trusted advisor and ask them to serve as cheerleader or task master when extra motivation is needed. Me? I have to rely on myself and, historically, I haven’t found myself to always be the most reliable.
Hope and Trust
Every week the women of the SheHive Sunday Morning Writers’ Group make writing commitments for the coming week (including, sometimes, committing to not commit to anything). I capture the commitments and post them on the group’s Facebook group, usually accompanied by a funny picture or meme about keeping commitments to make the post stand out.
Last week, when I Googled “commitment memes,” the following quote popped up…
When you make a commitment, you build hope.
I was struck. Commitments, even commitments to myself, have long been classified as “shoulds” in my mind… I should pay my bills before their due dates. I should do the dishes. I should get out of bed before the third snooze alarm. I should go to yoga. I should write tomorrow’s blog post before midnight.
It was all big ball of guilt… should, should, should.
But here was a different perspective - hope. Hope and trust. I love those words. I love those feelings! I can build hope by making commitments. The commitments I have been openly defying all these years aren’t shoulds - they’re needs, hope for a different future - and the trust I’ve been breaking all this time is my trust in myself.
Why have I been openly defying myself all these years? (Please don’t answer that, by the way. My therapist and I need something new to talk about after all these years together…)
A Year of Ease
After a decade (plus) of working around-the-clock, I decided that 2019 is going to be the year that I take a step back and enjoy the fruits of my labor. My word for the year is Ease, which I thought meant this was going to be a year of lots of yummy self-care and much, much less work. Turns out, more and more, I’m discovering that ease is also developing a discipline around things I need to do so that I’m not un-easy.
Ease is setting aside one hour every Sunday to reconcile the SheHive finances so I know exactly how much capital we have to work with at any given time. Ease is setting up standard operating procedures for how invoices get submitted by the team so I don’t have to worry they aren’t getting paid as promised. Ease is updating my three-year old business plan so I am better informed on where to direct my resources and focus. Ease is washing the dishes as I cook so I can relax after dinner instead of dreading having to go back into the kitchen. Ease is spending a whole afternoon blocking off time on my calendar every week for the year so that no one else can claim it.
Ease, it turns out, is setting deadlines, and boundaries and schedules for the things I don’t want to take up too much space in my life so that there is room for more of what I do want.
Words Create Worlds
Viewing “keeping commitments” as “creating hope” seems like a small thing that might not matter, but mindset shifts are magical. Words create worlds - especially the words we use to talk to ourselves. And when there’s hope at the end of what we tell ourselves we need to do, instead of shame or guilt, well… that’s a different ballgame!
What are the commitments you need to keep in order to create hope for a different future for yourself? I’d love to hear about them - particularly the rewards on the other side. Drop a line in the comments below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With much love and gratitude,
Ursula Adams, MSPOD
P.S. Want to learn more about hope as a powerful driver of change? Here’s a good piece of research to start.