It’s a simple motto. One I look at every day as I push play and start one of my Beachbody workouts. I see it so often that I hadn’t put any thought into it for a while. But recently, I did spend some time reflecting on those three little words.
How do people change their lives? Not just for a season, but forever. How do they get up every day and do things that are hard and that other people are not willing to do? First, a decision must be made. I remember clearly the day I made a decision to get serious about my weight and my health. Big changes in our lives don’t happen by chance, or by miracle, or even by a circumstance thrust upon us. We actually make a decision to act this way or that way.
I made a decision that to remain at 269 pounds when I had nothing preventing me from living a different life was the same thing as committing a crime. I had time in my day, I had access to equipment, I had shelves filled with books on health and magazines filled with tips on working out. None of that mattered without a decision to use them. But the decision is just the first step.
After the decision comes the commitment. They are very different processes. When we commit to follow through on our decision, we are telling ourselves that we matter enough to make the changes we are making. We tell ourselves that we are worthy of the work – and it is WORK!
When I was in the hardest and fastest phase of my weight loss journey I was working out to a trainer’s schedule seven days a week. For about eight months there wasn’t a single day where I didn’t wake up sore and achy. But I got up and I got moving. I knew that I had work to do that day, and I even did the work when I went on vacations. That is how the commitment part works.
The commitment phase is the hard stuff. It is the phase where you do a lot for a little and the rewards come slowly. This is where most people drop off because the truth of the matter is, the commitment phase is rarely fun. It’s doing what needs to be done day in and day out, often all alone. It’s the phase where all the storms of life seem to hit us and we want to run away from the pain.
But if you really want to change, if you really want that success, you find a way to fight through the commitment phase with everything you have. This is where you act with courage, forge your character, learn what perseverance really feels like and remind yourself every day that you made a decision for a reason.
You see, before you make a decision, you have to have a reason to make that decision. In motivational circles we call that your WHY. When you are in the commitment phase and the work is hard, it’s sometimes easy to forget that why, but without it you won’t keep going. Remembering the why is the way to get through this phase.
And then comes the success. You made the decision to change something. You committed to the work to make it happen. And then there is a moment when you reach the goal. On my weight loss journey it was being able to wear size 12 jeans. That is success that could be measured by a number.
The success moment can also be defined by an awareness that you are actually changed. For example, if you decided to improve a significant relationship, and you committed to act differently toward that person no matter how they behaved, the moment of success might be a moment when you realize that you are different and that they are also now different. It’s hard to measure, but you’ll know it when you arrive there.
Once you strive through the commitment phase, the success you thought you were heading toward has been redefined. If you are committed to losing weight, what you learn about yourself along the way gets added to that definition of success you started with. If you set out to build a new business to a certain income level, the lessons you learn about yourself and the people you meet along the way enhance what you thought success would be. As it turns out, the commitment is the prize. The growth you experience as you work toward a goal is your real success.
How you define success is unique to you, but for everyone that I consider to be successful, they simply see success as the beginning of yet another phase. The things they learned along the way lead them to a new, bigger, higher decision and the start the next commitment phase to reach that new goal.
So this week, think about the last time you made a decision to do something, or change something, or learn something. Did you make the commitment and follow through or did you drop the ball? It’s never too late to make that decision again, and this time, to make the commitment as well.