This week, I had a conversation with a friend about how easy it is to keep commitments with others. Yet somehow, when we make commitments with ourselves, we can easily postpone, run, and hide. Many of us live in this vicious cycle. This can look like that project we’ve been wanting to do for a long time, that exercise regimen that we said we would take on, the call we needed to make, the blank page hungry for ink, that blank canvas staring at you in the face. As I’m sitting here writing this piece, I’m looking for all kids of distractions and reasons for not writing. Admiring my notes, fiddling on my phone, looking through Facebook, and reading e-mail, just doing anything except putting pen onto paper. I don’t know about you, but some of the things that are most difficult to do are then ones that we must do fully committed.
On the day my dad left Cuba at 17 years old with just the clothes on his back and the dream of freedom, his father said to him, “Son, I’m sorry I don’t have any money to give you on your journey, the one thing of value I can give is the advice that my father gave to me — When you give your word, keep it. When you say you will do something. Do it. When you make a promise, honor it. Even when the situation may tempt you for a change of heart, you must keep your word”.
I’ve been thinking about this for a long time and have noticed how many of us practice this concept especially in business, and among friends and family. But, when we make promises to ourselves, making the commitments with ourselves, it is so much easier to postpone and derail. I believe this is one of the reasons why some of our most important life projects take such a long time or just don’t happen at all.
I began to put this concept of keeping the commitments with myself into practice a couple of years ago. On New Year’s Eve while vacationing with my family at Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, I made the commitment I would wake up to watch the first sunrise of the New Year. The morning of January 1st, the alarm rings. Exhausted from the night before, the warm comfy bed felt like it was hugging me so tight it wouldn’t let me go. I look through the window. The fog is so dense that I cannot see beyond a yard or two. I’m thinking it is impossible to see the sunrise under these conditions. The moment merits reconsidering the warm, comfy bed calling my name. The thought of postponing the commitment to another day seemed like the most logical and reasonable alternative. But since there was something specific I wanted to practice, I decided to keep my commitment and go outside to watch the sunrise with an open heart. So, together with my husband and our dog, we ventured outside to see the sunrise.
It is difficult to express how magical and transcendent the moment of this particular morning sunrise was and how deep the mark it left on me. It was a lesson in its fullest expression. A Divine gift for which I will be forever grateful.
That morning I learned, loud and clear, that – bliss, miracles, realization, they are all on the other side of the commitments you keep with yourself. I needed to wake up to understand this. When applied to living our purpose and taking action on those projects we know we must do, this lesson will make all the difference.