Back to integrity. Not an all or nothing game.
My life has been filled with last times and tomorrows.
This is the last time I hide; the last time I lie. This is the last time I numb my feelings with food. This is the last time I create unnecessary urgency and work until 3am. This is the last time I play small. This is the last time I beat myself up. This is the last time I sabotage my health, my relationships, my happiness.
I will never again compromise my integrity.
Starting tomorrow I will not take life so seriously. Tomorrow I will go for a run. Tomorrow I will say what I really think. Starting tomorrow I will get enough sleep. Tomorrow I will stop doubting myself. Tomorrow I will start taking action every day towards my dreams. Tomorrow I will love myself fully. Tomorrow I will speak boldly, with passion. Tomorrow I will choose differently. Tomorrow I will be truly committed to creating a life that I love.
Starting tomorrow I will live with integrity.
For so many years I have been trying to win at this all or nothing game.
I would sabotage my dreams with wild indulgence until I would become so disgusted with myself that I would gain the motivation to submit to a perfectly disciplined, perfect life. Complete indulgence to complete discipline with the snap of a finger.
I have idealized discipline. I thought, if only I could be strong enough to be disciplined all the time, how incredible life would be, how incredible I would be. I would be a woman of integrity.
What I’ve learned is this: discipline is not integrity.
My definition of integrity (and the dreams I kept sabotaging) were missing a key ingredient, and that is commitment. Not the short term bursts of excitement that I had been confusing for commitment, but deep routed commitment in line with my values.
Here is what I mean…
I would say I was committed to my health but my actions gave me away. What I was really committed to was the appearance of being committed to my health and the appearance that I didn’t have to try very hard to have a nice body.
I would say I was committed to working really hard to become a great lawyer, but often times the underlying commitment was to working really hard to appear like I was committed to becoming a great lawyer, because that’s what I thought I should do.
I would say I was committed to creating lifelong partnership with the love of my life, but I entered every new relationship with power games and uncertainty. What I was really committed to was the appearance that I was trying to find love and a relationship that worked.
Don’t get me wrong, with each new diet, each new case, and each new guy, I really believed I was committed to my health, my legal career, and falling in love. And I can see now that what I felt was not commitment, it was excitement. I know that because it did not last.
The excitement would pass and the new thing would become the thing I “had to” do. Boring. Done with that! I’d fall hard off track into the dungeons of “indulgence” until the arrival of the next “something new”.
I can distinguish that in the past my real commitment was to come across the way I thought I should come across, regardless of what I was actually doing, and how I was actually being.
Being committed to appearances wasn’t going so well for me. I wasn’t happy in my relationship to food or my body, my career, or my romantic relationships. I didn’t know it at the time, but what I was feeling was a lack of integrity; a lack of commitment in alignment with my values.
My dissatisfaction prompted me to make a lot of real commitments. I committed to vulnerability and publically outed myself in a number of areas of my life. I committed to personal development and reinvention and hired a life coach, and committed to a year long leadership and coach training program. I committed to passion and play and brought in so much more joy into my life. I committed to love and partnership and created a whole new way of showing up in my romantic relationship.
I really want to add to that list a commitment to my legal career, my business, and everything TYS stands for, and if I am completely honest I am not sure I can.
Yesterday a friend (and powerful coach) reflected to me that I often show up super inspired and passionate in these areas and then disappear. Over the top inspiration and passion – a little manic even – and then nothing. Gone.
The result? It’s hard to continue to be inspired by me. And it’s hard to know what’s real.
Ouch. That was a good hard shake.
And it has got me thinking, what am I really committed to?
Am I really committed to TYS?
Am I really committed to creating a successful business?
Am I really committed to being a great lawyer?
Am I really committed to reinventing the legal profession?
Am I really committed to helping lawyers reinvent their lives?
Am I really committed to being a powerful coach?
Am I really committed to showing up fully and powerfully?
Am I really committed to creating a life that I LOVE?
Do I sometimes show up in short bursts of inspiration (2 week spoken word poetry challenge), and then quickly disappear (two weeks with no newsletter or blog post at all)?
Am I committed to all of what I say I’m creating…or am I really only committed to the appearance of it? Am I trying to achieve my dreams through excitement alone?
As difficult as it is for me to admit this, there is some truth to this dagger.
Sometimes I am not committed to any of it.
I think this lack of commitment is often driven by a fear that I am not good enough. Lack of commitment gives me an easy out for when I fail (because if I’m not good enough I am of course doomed to fail) while the bursts of excitement makes it seem like I am still all “in”.
In those moments of doubt I fall back into my well worn commitment to maintaining appearances instead of outing my uncertainty. When I’m coming from that place it makes sense that the result is it’s hard to be inspired by me and it’s hard to know what’s real.
I also know that there are many times when I am deeply committed to all that I am creating, and I would wholeheartedly and passionately answer each of the “Am I really committed questions”, YES.
So now you know that I am not inspired all the time, I’m not committed all the time, and sometimes I fail at creating a life that I love. So where do I go from here?
I would like to swear to you that last time was the last time I choose appearances, that tomorrow I will really and truly be committed to all I am up to, and that I will never doubt myself ever again. But I have set myself up for that trap too many times.
Instead I am committing to simply noticing whether there is commitment underlying my excitement, to outing myself as human more often, and to showing up powerfully where I am at.
And for now I will leave you with a thought to reflect on, that came to mind while I was writing this post.
Trying to achieving your dreams by excitement alone is like trying to reach the clouds by grabbing hold a helium balloon. It may pop, and there’s a good chance it will shrivel up before you get there. Commitment on the other hand is a ladder. It requires strong quads, but you’ll get there.
In each moment we have a choice. How many rungs will you climb today?
Image credit 1