I have already expressed in a previous publication that 2021 became the year in which I (almost) hated myself. I allowed myself to be plagued with discouragement and self-doubt, which then led me to go through a very deep depression for the majority of the year.
There are plenty of things I wish I could have done in 2021, but when it comes to how I can make 2022 go differently it boils down to one thing: commitment. But before I explain how I came to stick with this theme of commitment, I think it’s important to note what I’ll be leaving behind in 2021.
What I’m Keeping in 2021
“Should Have” Syndrome and Pity Parties
To people who know me well, it’s no secret that it doesn’t take much for me to become discouraged. Something that I’ve learned about myself even further, however, is that I tend to wallow in shame after I have experienced any type of failure. For weight loss, that means eating something I know doesn’t fit into my calorie budget for the day and then immediately feeling guilty to the point where I contemplate skipping meals for the rest of the day. For writing, it means a session of self-loathing about not writing anything new instead of…making more attempts to write something new. The point isn’t that I made a mistake, it’s the fact that I made a mistake and couldn’t find it in myself to move past it. I would shame myself so much that it became debilitating; it was a very self-destructive and unproductive cycle that I had to put a stop to. In 2022, I commit to living in today’s opportunities, not yesterday’s regrets.
Leaving Things Incomplete
Something else that has become a habit in the past year is the fact that I wasn’t finishing anything. I wasn’t finishing books, I wasn’t finishing articles–but more important– I wasn’t finishing a lot of the promises I made to myself. I told myself I would work out for 7 days straight, but I would only do 2. I told myself I would finish a book before starting another one, but now I just have a bunch of books that are either half-finished or 3/4 finished. I would tell myself that I would make time on the calendar for friends to catch up and I didn’t follow through. When it comes to leaving things incomplete, it’s not just about the task itself. Rather, it’s about proving to myself that I can do things even when they’re inconvenient or when they are difficult. Something in me–something in all of us–craves the accomplishment that comes with finishing a task. In 2022, I commit to following through and finishing strong.
Not Practicing Gratitude
Notice that I said “practice” gratitude. This is because being grateful and thankful isn’t something that we always remember to do. Like a lot of other habits, it takes consistent practice to make sure we do it. It was so subtle, I didn’t even realize it was happening. It wasn’t as if I was stomping around, yelling at people, being rude, snatching things, not saying ‘thank you’ and just acting inexplicably ugly. There’s a difference between a simple ‘thank you’ and actually being intentional in thinking about all the things there are to be grateful for (even in the midst of adversity and dark times). In 2022, I commit to practicing gratitude every single day.
Why ‘The Year of Commitment’?
When I took the time to think about this year–and I mean really sit down and think about it–the events that took place, my emotional state, etc. I found that there was a common denominator: my lack of commitment.
Commitment is defined as “the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc.”. it is also described as an engagement or obligation. The day I started viewing my commitments as “optional” is the day my mental and emotional state began to deteriorate without me realizing it. It’s easy for me to just say: “Oh, well I don’t have to work out today. It’s not the end of the world if I just skip a day or two…but then two became three, became four, became five, etc. And this isn’t to say that there can never be a time to rest. In fact, rest needs to be prioritized or else our body and minds will shut it down whether we like it or not. What I’m saying, however, is that when we constantly break promises to ourselves we slowly chip away at our self-image.
To put it briefly: My self-image is at its highest when I show up for myself and when I show up for others. And ‘showing up’ is simply commitment put to action.
As far as ‘how’ I want to make this the Year of Commitment, I’m making small changes that make a big impact; a little something I learned before when reading James Clear’s “Atomic Habits”.
In order to commit to living in today’s opportunities instead of yesterday’s regrets, I will have to commit to the practice of daily prayer, meditation, and affirmation. To be honest, this is something that I actually used to do all the time. However, as I said before, I skipped one too many days of it and that habit quickly disappeared. Because I wasn’t instilling positive into me, I was making more room for negative to seep in. Something that I’m doing across the board with my goals is putting everything in my calendar and I do mean everything. It includes what time I’m working out, what I’m walking my dog, what time I’m going to read, what time I’m going to meditate/pray, what time I’m going to work on my blog or draft articles, etc. This may sound rigid, but it honestly relieves so much of my stress to know that I can take the guesswork out of things. It goes from “should I” do this thing to “I’m going to” to do this thing. And it also helps me avoid falling into the “I don’t have time” trap.
Calendar planning is also going to play a huge role when it comes to my second commitment of completing things and finishing strong. Again, when I know exactly what I’m going to do and when I’m going to do it, the guesswork disappears and I make like Nike and just do it. It’s a lot easier to finish a book when I schedule a minimum of 30 minutes of reading time every day. It’s a lot easier for me to do my workouts when I scheduled that 45-minute window for it, but also easier when I thank God the minute I wake up for allowing me to live to see another day (and to be in a physical state in which working out is possible in the first place).
To commit to practicing gratitude every day, I will (once again) implement daily prayer as well as daily entries in my gratitude journal. No matter what a day looks like, there’s something about taking time at the end of the day to list all of the things I’m fortunate to have that help me to not stew in a bad mood.
A Slip-Up isn’t a Sign to Give up
Yes, all of this stuff sounds great and ideal but it does leave us with the question: Can I really do this every day? While I do believe anything is possible, the fact of the matter is that we’re human. And humans inevitably make mistakes. There will be a day when things don’t go according to schedule, where I may drop the ball, where I may opt to eat a calorie-dense dinner followed by a slice of cheesecake. But again, none of those things equates to failure nor is it going to “ruin” my progress. The only thing that can ruin my progress is falling into despair for not being perfect. If everyone was too afraid to get started because of the possibility of failing then we wouldn’t have much of anything going on for us.
I’ve been told many times that “yesterday is heavy, so put it down”. We can’t take hold of opportunities of today if our hands are full of yesterday’s regret and tomorrow’s worries.
It doesn’t take extreme skill or talent, but simply a moment to make a decision. This year I’m deciding to truly commit and bet on myself. And if you’re in the same position as me, I hope that you can do that, too.