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Clarify Commitment

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1. What does Commitment mean or look like to you?

2. What do you think you are committed to in life? Ask a friend what they think you are committed to then, if the answers are different, reflect on why that may be.

3. Here’s how others describe Commitment:

  • Mackenzie K: Choosing to stay at the table, even after you’ve been hurt and triggered and want to walk away. Choosing to stay at the table because you said you would, and you love them and choose them and will fight for them.

  • Brad K: Resolve or the firm determination to do something.

  • Leigh Ann E: Resolving, choosing and deciding ahead of time what will be and then having the discipline to follow through on it.

  • Megan B: Following through, even when you’ve lost the desire to do so!

  • Mimi V: Making the choice to stick it out BEFORE the bad happens.

  • Kathy N: Actively sticking with a decision to not let fear hold you back from what needs to be done to be successful.

  • Ryan H: Consistent and sustained pursuit of your choices.

  • Kyle H: Disciplined devotion to a conscious decision.

  • Wendy C: Following through even if it is not convenient or comfortable.

  • Marlene S: Doing what is right regardless of how you’re treated in return. A choice to stand True. 

  • Charlotte M: The choice to stay loyal to someone or something through any season, because you chose them/it at some point.

4. Our definition: To give of yourself passionately and consistently to something and to choose it’s pursuit even when it’s hard, inconvenient, or the outcome feels unclear.
 

5. Our favorite quote about Commitment: “You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.” -Margaret Thatcher
 

6. At ChooseLove.org, we are always trying to take a closer look at practices that are critical to fulfillment, success, and connection - words that are overused, but under-observed. What does it mean to be truly committed to a thing? What does commitment require of you, the Committed?

“In a bacon and eggs breakfast, the chicken was involved — the pig was committed.”

practice kindness

Forgive the morbid analogy, but perhaps it is appropriate. Like with most things related to Love, commitment requires sacrifice - a willingness to give up what is comfortable or convenient or easy to stick to your choices, your path. A deliberate choice to lean into the hard when easy is everywhere.

As a youth and parent speaker, Tyler Durman says, “A commitment to growth is a commitment to pain.”

Kind of a bummer that anything you are truly committed to is going to require pain, isn’t it? But no one ever got stronger in the gym by lifting weights that didn’t challenge them and we would challenge that no one ever finds depth in their relationships to themselves or with others without facing something painful.

It begs the question: what are you willing to be in pain for? What or who would you willingly experience hurt for?

Or perhaps the more poignant question: What are you willing to be the pig for in a bacon and eggs breakfast?

Think about the things that are most important to you in your life right now: are you committed or involved?

Darmeny Jones, a trainer and friend, would ask the groups he worked with, “Are you all in?”

Heads would nod. Thumbs would go up.

Then he would ask, “Can you be more in?”

Thumbs would pause. Heads would slowly nod.

He would end with, “Then you’re not all in.”

At ChooseLove.org, we find ourselves partially “in” all the time. Phone calls will get half our attention. Resolutions will be made, then lost. We’ll do 90% of a project and get bored, tired, frustrated, or lazy.

Involved says, “I’ll do what I can.” Commitment says, “I’ll do whatever it takes.” Involved lends a hand, commitment says, “I’ve got two hands.”

Involvement isn’t a bad thing! We should all get involved with local organizations, causes, events, and anything else we want to offer our help to. But we only have room for so many real commitments - things that we believe in so deeply that the action toward it or to improve on it is non-negotiable. Things that we will walk through pain for - that we will see through the moments of mess and the moments of the seemingly impossible. Commitments to things we couldn’t be more “in” on.

So, what about Love? Are you all in on Love?

 
 
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Reflect on Commitment

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Postcards.
by Houston Kraft

Rick and Martha, for many years, owned the Kennebunkport Inn in Kennebunkport, Maine. My grandma lives there and I used to love to walk over, when I was like 5 or 6 years old, to visit Rick and Martha.

They also had two daughters, Alexis and Lydia, who were like 10 years older than I was…and I thought I had a chance. I would go over there and try to impress them by telling really bad jokes and doing my best Jim Carrey impressions.

You’d like Rick. Rick is the kind of the guy that would sit patiently and listen to my bad jokes. He’d make me hot chocolate and walk me back to my grandma’s house and brag about how funny he thought I was.

He is tall with piercing blue eyes. He has perfect, poofy, combed-back white hair - like an angel took a feather from one its wings and dropped it on his head. After selling the hotel they owned, Rick became a real estate agent – rated in the top 5% in the country. His favorite words to use are “heavenly” and “unbelievable.” He loves dessert.

Rick has been committed to his community. He has been the president of the rotary club, president of the local library, and on the board of the chamber of commerce. He was the vice-president at the local senior center. Not only that, but he is the local tree warden – meaning he helps plant trees and protects them when people try to cut them down. He’s like Father Nature.

A few years ago, Rick was diagnosed with glioblastoma - an aggressive form of brain cancer.

I got to see him just a few months after the diagnosis, around the holidays. I hadn’t visited with him for years, and as I walked up to the front of their house, his wife Martha greeted me. They had just returned from the doctors and had gotten news he had about three months left.

I sat down with Rick. We drank tea. And for two hours, he asked me about how I was doing. He is a guy with less than 100 days to live and he still makes mine feel like the most important story in the room. What a gift.

I did a few Jim Carrey impressions for old time sake.

Three months later, the world lost an incredible man. Rick was a former boss, mentor and friend of my parents. He has always been a role model to me.

At his celebration of life, people were overflowing out of the back of the room. They got up and shared about the tremendous amount of service Rick did for the community. They brought up his kindness and his time and his commitment. They talked about his committees and his volunteerism and his love of desserts. But his community service is not what defined him as a leader or as a person.

The last people that got up were his daughters – Alexis and Lydia. They told a simple story about how they both moved out of the house 8 years before their dad had passed away and how, for the past 8 years, Rick had mailed them a postcard. Every. Single. Day. Rain or shine, holiday, birthday, random Tuesday - they would get a postcard in the mail from their dad.

For those of you counting, that’s over 3,000 postcards a piece. Over 6,000 in total. Sometimes they would have long notes - words of wisdom or encouragement or love from their father. Sometimes they would say things like, “Pick up your phone when I call you.”

6,000 postcards.

His community service is not what defined him as a leader or as a person. Alexis and Lydia didn’t bring up his many plaques or ribbons or newspaper clippings from his various positions. There were no trophies or long lists of accomplishments. They didn’t have his service hours all added up or his resume.

They had a big box of postcards.

This month, that’s the way we are looking at Love - like a big box of postcards. A box filled with small, intentional acts of thoughtfulness and kindness. A box filled with something he did every day, in a small way, to make someone else happy. A box filled with COMMITMENT to a thing he received little recognition for.

What is your postcard - your commitment? What is one small thing you can do, every day, to make yourself and others feel loved?

With Love,

Houston

 
 
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1. Reflections on Commitment:

  • Who is the most committed person you know? What are they committed to? What do you think keeps them committed?
  • Is there something that you do every day for yourself? For others?
  • What can you take out of your day to make time to add a commitment? Does it take more discipline for your to add something or remove something from your day?
  • What are you involved in? What are you committed to?
  • Involved is ______. Committed is ______.
  • What is one excuse that you know you will make and what can you do to prevent that excuse from being used or to overcome it when it does pop up? (Think proactive rather in reactive)

2. What Gets In The Way?

Every human struggles with commitment - perhaps we need to get better at asking why? Maybe this commitment was made when we weren’t ready for it. Maybe we got too wrapped up in our to-do list. Perhaps we found ourselves exhausted or over-committed. Let’s dig into these challenging questions to see if we can remove the barriers that prevent us from being “all in” with our love and our life.

  • Incompetence - What are the skills needed to stay committed to something?
    • Commitment requires competencies to stay the course. And when we don’t know how to do something, it’s easy to excuse ourselves from doing that thing. Here are a few skills that, in their absence or weakness, we will struggle to stay committed:
      • Determination
      • Discernment 
      • Growth Mindset
      • Discipline 
      • Emotional Regulation
      • Delayed Gratification
      • Resilience
      •  (Insert your own here!)
         
    • Which of the above skills do you need the most work with or support with? 
       
  • Insecurity - What scares me about commitment?
    • Our fears often get in the way of our future. When I am afraid of something, even subconsciously, it can prevent me from my potential. Here are some things that might get in the way of Commitment:
      • Uncertainty about oneself
      • Lack of confidence
      • Fear of being committed to something/someone because you don’t think you can or know how to
      • Fear to be that it’ll be all for nothing
      • Fear you won’t get the result you want
      • Fear you will get the result you want
      • Fear of your own power (if you are capable of X, you’re probably capable of Y).
      • (Insert your own here!)
         
    • Which is most scary for you? Why?
       
  • Inconvenience - What are the feelings that disconnect us from our commitments?
    • Our feelings can dictate our actions. There are lots of things we WANT to be committed to, but some feelings can prevent us from the CHOICE to stay committed. Here are a few feelings that disrupt dedication:
      • Discomfort
      • Frustration
      • Anxiety 
      • Hopelessness
      • Pain
      • Overwhelm
      • Busyness
      • (Insert your own here!)
         
    • Which feeling do you experience most often? When you begin feeling this way, what is one phrase that can remind you of the positive power that commitment can bring your life?

 

 
 
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Practice Commitment

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At ChooseLove.org, we want to help you stay committed to a long and loving life. Commitment is not always about ADDING things - it is sometimes about the SUBTRACTION of things in our life. In fact, to commit to remove things from our life can be just as, if not more challenging, than adding something else in. Habits are hard to build and can be even harder to break!

INVOLVED < COMMITTED: 

  • So, for this week’s intentional practice, we want you to Add 2, Minus 1 every day for the next 7 days. As an exercise in commitment you will: 
    • +1 Write a Postcard A Day (write it to your neighbor, your friend, your distant cousin, yourself - in honor of Rick, make this part of the practice)
    • +1 Choose Your Own (some examples: 10 minutes of meditation, 20-minute jog, 1 phone call to a friend, an exercise class, 30 minutes of cooking, 20 minutes practicing an instrument)
    • -1 Choose Your Own (some examples: no snoozing your alarm, no phone after 7pm, no sugar, no swearing)
       
  • Whatever you choose, they should be things that happen daily and take a reasonable amount of time. You don’t need to run a marathon every day, but try to add something bigger than a 10 second deep breath. Make it non-negotiable by asking yourself, “Am I willing to make time for things that I know are important?”
     
  • Download the PDF packet for a simple worksheet to help you keep track of your progress.
     
 
 
 
 

Live Commitment

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1. Sometimes the concept of Love feels so big that practicing it or living it with consistency seems nearly impossible. Love is abstract, which makes it hard to put into action. That’s why we break down Love every month into something more digestible and more tangible like this month’s Practice of Kindness.

But even Kindness is a massive concept.It’s like the menu at the Cheesecake Factory - sometimes when there are too many choices, our choice-center gets overwhelmed and we give up, settle, or avoid it altogether. So, every month, we will break down our monthly Practice into a simple structure to make it easier to understand and commit to something tangible, specific, and actionable. We call this structure Intersectional Thinking. It’s like a venn diagram for action-oriented brainstorming. For the month of Kindness, we used ‘Groups of People’ and ‘Timeframes’ as our primary circles. Wherever they intersect, we have provided some sample ideas on ways to Live Committed! Make sure to add a few of your own.

Relational Health

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Daily:

  • Before leaving the house, make intentional eye contact (and physical contact when appropriate) as you tell your family members that you love them.

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Weekly:

  • Create a standing coffee date on the calendar with your parent/guardian or other family that live nearby. Commit to having no phones involved when you are together.
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Monthly:

  • During the first week of the month, plan a day to be a tourist in your own town with family or friends.
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Spiritual Health

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Daily:

  • Start each morning by writing down one or two things that you want to be intentional with that day. Maybe it is a prayer for yourself or someone else. Maybe it is a thought you want to meditate on throughout the day.
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Weekly:

  • Commit to walking one day a week where you are by yourself with no music, no phone, and no distractions. For at least 10 minutes, look for the divine in what is around you.
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Monthly:

  • Attend something or read something each month that is outside your current spirituality practice and find connections between your beliefs and the new thing you experience or read.
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Physical Health

Daily:

  • Keep track of your water intake. Commit to drinking the recommended 64 ounces a day.

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Weekly:

  • Commit to one day a week having both aerobic exercise and strength training. For example: A morning run + a set of body weight exercises in the evening.
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Monthly:

  • Learn one new recipe that is healthy and energizing and make it for yourself. Bonus points if you commit to also making it once a month for a friend. 
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Mental Health

Daily:

  • Commit to 5 minutes a day of reflection. Try keeping a journal of “first thought and last thought” where you sit down, write out the first thing that comes to mind, then sit for 5 minutes trying to process or reflect on your previous day or the day to come. Spend a moment writing down the last thought you have after that 5 minutes of stillness.

Weekly:

  • Find a video or piece of reading each week that speaks to you or motivates you. After you find something, share it online or with a friend.

Monthly:

  • Treat yourself to an adventure, dinner, or a movie alone. Practice sitting with your own company without distractions and reflect on what comes up when we allow ourselves to be by ourselves.
 

Emotional Health

Daily:

  • At the end of each day, do some intentional breathing and check in with your emotional state. Keep a daily log of how you are feeling at the end of each day.

Weekly:

  • Find a friend who is emotionally available and set up a weekly recurring phone date where you are committed to being real and sharing authentically.

Monthly:

  • Art project! Take some time to draw, paint, write, photograph, film, dance, sing, etc...Focus your energy on a feeling or emotion that you have been experiencing recently and then express yourself through your art!
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Daily:

  • Make a point to hold the door open for at least one other person. Smile and tell them to have a beautiful day.
     
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Weekly:

  • Once a week, “prank call” someone who works for your city - council people, water, electric, post office. Instead of asking for something, just thank them for their service.
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Monthly:

  • Buy a stranger’s drink or snack on the first day of each month to kick things off with good karma.
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2. Did you know that 45% of our day is built on routine? 45% of our day is habitual - on autopilot. Charles Duhigg, in his book The Power of Habit, shares that most habits are created with the same three ingredients: a cue, a routine, and a reward. When we experience a cue (we get home from school or work, we see the fridge, our alarm goes off at 4pm, we are spending time with X person), it begins a routine (we sit down on the couch and turn on the TV, we rummage through the leftovers, we put on our workout clothes, we start swearing more). The routine is motivated by a reward (we get to turn our brains off, we get a quick sugar spike, we feel accomplished with getting out the door to our gym, we feel like we fit in better with this friend).

When we are able to identify and reflect on each of these, we regain some control over a huge chunk of our lives! When we are aware of this process, it also helps us be more intentional with creating new commitments. So let’s build a new habit:

  1. The new ROUTINE I want in my life is (choose something from the daily or weekly time frames above or come up with your own!): (fill in the blank!)
     
  2. The REWARD of doing this thing daily or weekly will be: (fill in the blank!)
     
  3. The CUE that I want to use to compel me into action will be: (fill in the blank!)

Finally, a few more reflections to make sure it is locked in:

  • Why is this Commitment important to you?
     
  • What will most likely “get in the way” of doing this thing consistently (time, energy, location, environment, etc..)
     
  • When that thing inevitably does get in the way, how will you overcome it to make sure you stay true to your Practice?
     
  • I will tell _________, ________, and ________ about what I will be doing to Live Commitment.
     
  • ________ will be my accountability partner who I have asked to remind me on _______ day at _____ am/pm.
     
  • I will set up a repeating calendar event on _________ at _______ am/pm to remind myself.
     
  • I will go post on the Facebook group today to share with others what I am committed to!