It’s that time of year again; the time of year when people start making resolutions about who they want to be and make promises they will most likely break about drastic changes they will implement. Some makes these resolutions about weight loss, others about giving up one addiction or another, and of course the possibilities are endless. Of course, most ingrained behaviors are going to remain ingrained, but there is something you can do to start the new year that won’t require you to give up your nightly cocktail or favorite dessert.
This is the fifth installment in a series following the Six Medicines of Bodhichristo, with our first installment being about living for today, our second installment being about not allowing anger to control your life, our third being about the importance of not giving in to constant worry and our fourth talking about the importance of having an attitude of gratitude. In this edition we’re going to talk about the life-affirming power of working hard and taking pride in a job well done.
What does it mean when you commit to do something? Do you take it seriously, or do you approach it as something you’ll do if you have time or if there’s not some show you want to watch on Netflix? When you make a commitment to do something, whether that commitment is to a boss, a co-worker or even to yourself, and you fail to live up to your word, there is a toll. That toll may be as extreme as losing your job or it may be as subtle as a nagging on the very edge of your conscience where you know you should have done better. Either way, failing to do your best work can be a road block between you and your best self.
To be clear, I’m not talking about killing yourself for 80 hours a week or taking on some Herculean task that is far beyond your ability to complete. What I’m talking about is being honest with yourself, taking a deep look at the situation, and making a decision to either do the task in question to the fullest of your abilities or to admit you can’t commit. Try this thought process:
- Am I able to do the task being presented?
- Am I able to do it well and by myself, or will I need help? If I need help, do I know where to get reliable help?
- Do I have the time to complete the task by the deadline?
- What personal sacrifices, if any, are required?
- When considering all of the above information, am I realistically able to commit to the task with the full assurance that I will produce a finished product that of which I can be proud?
I spent many years as a full-time NBA analyst, following teams and players all around the country as the league progressed from pre-draft camp in Chicago to draft in New York to summer leagues in Orlando and Las Vegas to Team USA in Las Vegas to training camps in various cities to preseason and regular season all over Texas, primarily, but also extending to Charlotte, Orlando, Oklahoma City and even Boston once. The All-Star Break would happen in a different city every year, so I would wind up spending a week in February in LA, New Orleans, Houston, Orlando, Vegas, Phoenix or wherever the league decided to hold that huge event.
Honestly, I loved it! At the pinnacle of our success we were the third largest network covering the NBA behind only ESPN and Yahoo!, both of which covered all sports while we only covered basketball.
And then my daughter was born.
Talk about dropping a nuclear bomb on my life… all of that travel and flexibility that I used to crave and thrive within suddenly became a roadblock in my desire to be the best dad I could be. I walked away from the NBA, got my Master’s and started teaching so that my schedule would be virtually the same as my baby girl’s. Over the ensuing nine years the call of basketball has been persistent and alluring, but when those inevitable calls and texts come asking me to commit to one project or another, I most often say no. I know that I cannot commit to something that involves travel, late nights and incredible focus because it would interfere with the most important commitment I have made: being Riley’s dad.
Keep in mind that we are all different. Some people have the talents, will and determination to be world class athletes like Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant. For some the simple act of getting out of bed may be a huge step. Set your goals based upon an honest self-evaluation and then don’t let anything stand between you and your goals.
Resolutions are wonderful, especially if they are realistic. Maybe you drink too much and decide it’s time to do something about it. Perhaps your last physical didn’t go so well and your doctor has suggested diet and exercise (gasp!). Maybe you’ve realized at the very edge of your conscience that you’re really not doing the best you can do at things to which you’ve committed. The beginning of a new year is a fabulous time to make a fresh start and make real and lasting changes in your life.
Before you make those resolutions, though, make a commitment to yourself. Be realistic about your goals, be realistic about the work required, and decide to put your whole self into the work required to accomplish what you set out to do. If you can’t do those things, you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment…and failure.