I recently started riding my bike regularly around the city, which has been much more pleasant than expected…once I get out of my neighborhood. I’ve had my bike the entire three years I’ve lived in the city, but I rarely ride it because of various excuses. This may seem like an oversimplified example, but how many times have we let excuses get in the way of doing something?
This idea of “excuses” and “commitments” has been on my mind since reading The Pathfinder, which is a great book, by the way, if you are trying to figure out “what to do with your life.” In one of the chapters, the author speaks about commitment, where my takeaway is that if something is important to you, you do it – no matter what! An interesting point. I remember my training days in preparation for the New York City marathon, where I had a full-time job and a 90-minute round trip commute. In the year I trained, not only did I not miss a training run, regardless of the city I was in, but I also gave up drinking. I’d get up at the crack of dawn and just run. Why? Because I was committed to running the marathon and I did what I thought was necessary to prepare. Period!
So wait. I can run a marathon, but my excuse for not riding my bike is, “I don’t like the initial bike ride through my crowded neighborhood. If only I had trees and quiet, clean streets to look at as I started my bike ride rather than cigarette butts and potholes.” Seriously?
It is not just excuses that stop us. Perhaps we feel frozen or blocked by something. The author argues that being “blocked” is the perfect time to actually keep moving. He gives the example of a workshop for writers who have writers block. Interestingly enough, the way they get the writers out of their predicament is by conducting a series of exercises that actually get the writers to keep writing! Hmm. There might be something to this commitment thing.
One last food-for-thought….After six months of on-again, off-again reading of The Happiness Project, I finally finished the book. If you have not read it, Gretchen Rubin spends a year of her life trying to find the secret to happiness, where each month, she created her own “happiness projects” to work on. At the end of the book, she concludes that while some of her monthly projects worked better than others, the thing that worked most effectively to impact her overall happiness was her Resolutions Chart. Essentially, she made a chart of her resolutions and rated how she did on them on a regular basis. Thus, rather than doing what most of us do, which is to make a resolution on January 1 and forget what it was by February 1, she was committed to her resolutions and stuck to them by using this simple chart.
I am now inspired to keep my own Resolutions Chart, where bike riding and daily meditation are definitely on the list! No more excuses!