If you’re like me, sticking to your commitments can be tough. Whether it’s signing up for a new class, participating in a yoga challenge, committing to a relationship, or starting a new project, new goals are scary. It seems like no matter how excited we initially were about taking on a new project, the burden of responsibility looms and we feel trapped.
There are a lot of reasons why this can happen. Maybe it’s a fear of beginning something new. Maybe it’s that we are intimidated by our suddenly jam-packed calendars. Maybe we are worried that we won’t live up to our expectations. It often feels like a more lucrative option to run away and skip out on our commitments altogether. But what if we could confront these feelings and power through with what we set out to do? We’ve compiled ten simple ways to proactively approach your commitments, so that you can reach your full potential without the unnecessary stress.
Write yourself a letter when you start.
When I was in middle school, one of my teachers asked the class to write letters to ourselves with the intention of opening them in ten years. The prompt was to remind our future selves of the importance of taking care of our bodies, particularly in reference to alcohol and drugs. It seemed silly at the time, as I thought to myself, “of course I would never do anything like that.” But things can change over time, and reminding ourselves of our positive intentions can be incredibly beneficial to sticking to your commitments.
Remember what inspired you to make the commitment in the first place.
What was it that inspired you to sign up for that ceramics class? What sparked that desire to create something? Trying something new can be scary. We don’t know what to expect, and there’s always the possibility that we might fail. But what is really the worst thing that can happen? New experiences can teach us so much about ourselves, whether they end up being great, or not so great. Try to soften and remember what excited you in the first place. Don’t build up expectations, just foster that initial excitement and persevere. You might just discover a whole new side of yourself.
Do it with friends.
Taking on a new challenge with friends is the best way to hold yourself accountable. Not only does it give you that little extra pressure to show up, it also gives you someone to relate to while you’re working through a potentially trying time. Sharing an experience and talking through it with someone helps you to process it yourself, and that mutual support can be incredibly powerful. (Not to mention it makes it more fun!)
Evaluate what’s holding you back.
Often it is fear that keeps us from following through with our plans and realizing our potential. Try writing down the pros and cons of following through with your commitment. What are your doubts? Are they really stronger than your desire to follow through, or are you tricking yourself into running away? If it’s fear that’s stopping you, try some gentle breathing exercises, and take a step back to look at the full picture. Getting some perspective might just change your mind, and make things a bit less scary.
Develop a rewards system.
Dreading going to that workshop you signed up for? Sometimes motivating ourselves with a tangible goal can help. Inspire yourself to keep putting yourself out there and honor your efforts with a small reward. Maybe you treat yourself to a nourishing meal, new incense, or a crystal. These small things remind us to keep moving forward, and show us that we are capable of sticking to our intentions.
Document your progress.
Take note of how you’ve changed since you started your new challenge. Are you stronger? Maybe you can finally nail that one pose that you’ve never been able to do. Or maybe it’s as simple as approaching the challenge with more softness and ease. Seeing your progress can motivate you to keep on with your intentions.
Look for online support systems.
Social media can be a super helpful resource when it comes to sticking with our commitments. Facebook groups such as this page for Wanderlust’s 21-Day Yoga Challenge offer a sense of community, and act as a daily reminder to keep pursuing our dreams. It’s a place for people to talk about what they’re experiencing, and to motivate each other. Knowing that other people are participating in challenging themselves to try something new is encouraging, and engaging with people from around the globe makes it so much more fun!
Meditate on it.
When the going gets tough, it’s time to slow things down. Allow yourself to just be, devoid of any expectations or responsibilities. This can help to alleviate the stress of keeping up with our busy schedules, and makes it a little bit easier to cope with any doubts or anxieties we may have. Approaching a goal mindfully makes all the difference in the world.
Approach your commitments with gratitude.
When you’re feeling burdened by your responsibilities, remind yourself how lucky you are to be granted this opportunity to thrive! Reversing your mindset about a commitment from an annoying task that you have to do to something that you are grateful to do allows you to alleviate the tension you feel about the commitment, whatever it may be.
Just keep showing up.
This is the number one rule for success in following through, and though it may seem simple, it can be the hardest part of a commitment. We all want to make it to that 6am class when we go to sleep, but once the morning rolls around and our beds are feeling awfully comfortable, we might regret having signed up for it. However, once we actually make it to the mat, we are grateful that we made that extra push to show up. Challenge yourself to simply keep being there, no matter how much easier it is to avoid our commitments.
Jillian Billard is a poet, yoga teacher, cellist and avid wanderer. A native New Yorker, she is often caught daydreaming of sprawling green fields and mountains. She trained and received her ashtanga yoga teacher’s certification in Goa, India and works at Laughing Lotus Yoga Center in Brooklyn. You can often find her with her head buried in a book, doused in lavender. Follow her on her (very newly developed) Instagram page for class schedules and updates at @jillboyoga