Episode 050 – Commitment Chronicles
“I’m making a promise to myself that I’ll show up and be present for me. If I don’t, I breach the contract.”
“It was character that got us out of bed, commitment that moved us into action, and discipline that enabled us to follow through.” –Zig Zigler
It’s a pretty special day for us here at The Mind Unset because a little over a year ago, episode 1 went live. I remember feeling excited, overwhelmed, and so far behind everyone else in the game.
The numbers told a tale that did not bode well for new podcasts. For example, of the 2.5 million podcasts out there in the universe, 90% of them will never reach their 20th episode.
Well, here we are. Still new. Still learning. Still moving forward.
Episode 50 is all about commitment. But not just any commitment.
Tune in for your midweek dose of positivity.
Hey everyone. I hope all is well in your world. Welcome to episode 50. Can you believe it?
I have to tell you, this kinda snuck up on me. I have been so focused on getting ahead of the production calendar that it wasn’t until episode 49 went live that I realized we were about to post our 50th.
I wish I could tell you I had a special episode planned out just for the occasion. You know I’m all about celebrating small wins and this… is definitely a small victory.
I think instead of doing some slick production or scripted piece, I’m just gonna talk a little off the cuff today about a topic that’s been stuck in my head for a while but I haven’t really been able to get a handle on how I want to talk about it.
Maybe today is a good day to talk about commitment.
I know that’s not a sexy topic. It’s one of those topics that people drone on and on about and we, maybe, have a tendency to tune it out.
But… I’m gonna go for it. And I’m going to use this podcast to get the discussion off the ground.
To begin, I wanna read you some statistics. Yeah, I know…quite the auspicious start. Stay with me.
A little over a year ago, episode 1 went live. July 6th. I remember my excitement was short-lived.
Not because I’m a doom and gloom dude. But because of the statistics. The numbers as they tell the tale of new podcasts were not good.
For example: Of the 2.5 million podcasts out there in the universe, 90% of them will never reach their 20th episode.
The top 1% – the most successful podcasts on the planet belongs to about 20,000 people who made it to episode 21. Those people who made the commitment to keep going.
Now, we are nowhere near the top of the list but we are well past episode 20 and that’s something.
And that gets me to today’s topic. I’ve learned a lot about commitment this year. Maybe I knew it all along and didn’t apply it either way… my understanding of commitment as it interacts with my life has changed.
What I’ve come to realize is, commitment has little or nothing to do with a point of arrival. It’s not a destination. If I do this, I’ll get that.
And the level of commitment rises and falls according to the reward. If there’s little to no reward, our commitment to the commitment fades or goes away entirely and we revert back to previous behaviors.
This is one of the reasons New Years resolutions don’t work. Why relying on will power rarely works. Both of those hinge on the fact that usually when we make a resolution or we have to rely on our will power, it’s because we’re seeking to deprive ourselves of something.
At the beginning, the initial spark triggers our enthusiasm and our desire to stick with it… for a while. When the newness wears off and we encounter the rough patches, or when we fall off the wagon, what empowers us to keep going?
That’s what fascinates me. So many of us encounter one defeat or one little hiccup and allow it to derail the entire endeavor.
Of course, someone has come up with a Commitment Scale. And depending on who you ask, there are anywhere from 3 to 6 levels on that scale. I know… as if committing to commitment wasn’t bad enough, there’s a scale to show you much you suck at it.
In case you didn’t know.
After some research, I’m going with the 5 level breakdown. I don’t need an extra level of suck, thank you very much.
Let’s do this together, shall we?
Level 1: Awareness: This is the easy part. You decide there is something that needs changing. Or you’ve got a desire or goal you wish to achieve.
Level 2: Willingness to Change: This is where if you’re going to get stuck or abandon the effort, it happens here. Yeah, as quickly as level 2. You realize quickly how difficult the new desire or goal is and you let your resistence talk you out of it.
Level 3: Intense Focus: Think of this as episode 20. You got past Level 2. You work through the resistence and get a clear vision of what you need to do. You focus and develop a routine. If you listen to Charles Duhigg and his book the Power of Habit, you only have about 245 days to keep this focus up until it becomes a habit. That’s about 8 months. Others say it’s closer to 66 days.
Level 4: Committed: You’ve worked through the obstacles, you know about the 245 days and still, you’re committed; whatever it takes, you’re willing to put in the work.
Level 5: Character: Through this work and self-exploration, you’ve become or you’re much closer to becoming the person you sought out to be when you developed the awareness back in level one.
Who would know better about this process than the enormously successful Zig Zigler.
Zig said, It was character that got us out of bed, commitment that moved us into action, and discipline that enabled us to follow through.
Now, smarter men and women than I have spent decades of study on this stuff but for me, personally, sometimes what resonates – what gets through to me – is not a gradient level or scale. It’s not a chart or a graph either.
It’s an expression or a tactic, explained so clearly that you simply can’t argue with it.
A little earlier I told you that I’d arrived at the realization that commitment as it relates to my life has little or nothing to do with a point of arrival. This year, I realized that I’m able to maintain my level of intensity because I’m no longer commiting to something external.
I’m not committed to the action. I’m committed to me to the self. If I make a commitment to workout, write a new book or produce a podcast, I’m making a promise to myself that I’ll show up and be present for me. If I don’t, I breach the contract I made with myself.
That’s what motivates me at this point.
So carrying that forward, what would it look like to change our thinking about how we commit to things. Instead of committing to a diet, commit to yourself.
Commit to the promise of self-improvement, self-respect or self-love rather than the action of losing weight. Sounds too simple doesn’t it.
And I know what you’re thinking… there have to be days when I don’t feel like keeping the promise?
Hell yeah. Like almost every day.
Back in Episod 46, I mentioned I have been walking for one hour every morning since March 1.
I’ve kept to that promise, I realize, not because I wanted to lose weight and look better at the beach. I kept that promise because I felt like shit, phyiscally and mentally and I wanted it to change. Level 1: Awareness.
I decided to commit to me, not to walking 3 miles every morning. That wouldn’t have held up.
But a promise to myself… well, that holds up.
Because if I break that promise to myself, I feel like shit in a different way. I feel like I’ve let myself down. And, I’ll be completely honest with you, when I open my eyes in the morning, the first thing I say is; I don’t feel like walking.
I follow a couple of people online that I think are just brilliant in the way they explain things and break them into digestible bites, one at a time. They are content creators, authors, and podcasters as well. These are uber successful people… those 1%ers at the top of the list. Award-winners, NYTimes bestsellers, etc…
Casey Neistat, Rich Roll, and Mel Robbins. You can find all of them, if you don’t already know them, with one click of your mouse.
And Mel Robbins in particular is the reason I drag my ass out of bed at 5:30 in the morning.
She’s honest, open, beautiful and flawed – and she said something earlier this year – just as I started walking – that really sort of changed my life. Or the way that I look at my life in this moment.
It’s so simple. It’s that expression I spoke of earlier; explained so clearly that you simply can’t argue with it.
She said, “Despite how you feel, take the action.” Seven words.
We humans are so driven by our feelings about things that we sometimes allow them to castrate our effort. She didn’t say it like that. She didn’t use that word, but that was her point.
We don’t take the step or make the effort because we don’t feel like it.
And to her point, she says, okay… Now we know you don’t feel like doing it. Do it anyway.
This has become a joke in our house. I wake up and mumble, ugh, I don’t feel like going for my walk. I don’t feel like working out.
And my wife…who is also Mel says, okay babe. Now we know how you feel. Get your shoes on and I’ll see you in an hour.
She says this, by the way, while under the covers and without opening a single eye.
And let me be clear, I’m not talking about forcing ourselves to do something that is clearly harmful to our being. I’m not talking continuing with toxic behaviors. I’m talking about embracing discomfort for the betterment of our future self.
You see, when you think about things in this way, it gives you the power to acknowledge that you don’t feel like doing something while at the same time motivating you to do that very thing.
To keep that promise… whatever it is.
For me, it’s this podcast, my morning walks, and my workout routine. Other than the commitment to my family and friends, the biggest commitment in my life right now…is to myself.
In a world where… if you have to expose yourself to social media on a daily basis as I do if I want to make a living… we get all kinds of mixed messages about who we should be, where we should be headed, and what route we should take to get there.
This is not that. I am not speaking from any position other than one of curiosity. What works for me may not work for you.
Just because Mel Robbins says it works doesn’t mean it will but… it doesn’t mean it isn’t worth investigating.
These are just ideas. Nuggets to chew on and experiment with if the other things you’ve tried haven’t worked. Sometimes it takes hearing it fifty times before it sticks on the 51st time.
I’m infinitely curious as to why what hasn’t worked in the past, seems to work effortlessly now and conversely, what was once a fluid proceedure that I coulud do in my sleep now seems as difficult for me as quantum physics.
I beg to understand it. And at this stage in my journey, I am fully on board with the notion that if nothing else, do one thing every day that scares the absolute shit out of you. It doesn’t have to be skydiving or an act of danger.
I’m not talking reckless behavior. I’m talking about the little things. The things that get dismissed by all of those folks stuck at level 2.
And what if that one thing I’m talking about… the one thing that scared the hell out of you was simply keeping a promise you made to yourself.
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