Rachel’s Challenge

May 18, 2010

Rachel is a super smart writer, editor, mother of four who, after reading my last blog post, gave me a challenge:

I’m going to be *really* obnoxious and ask, so, if you could go back and “start over”, what would you make your COEfor this nine week yoga class? Since as you admit in your post, 45 minutes 6 days a week was NOT possible, I’m very curious- would you commit to less time per day? If you did that, are you sure you would still go to class, or no, since you still knew you weren’t “living up” to the standard you or the teacher set? (I’m asking because I really want to hear from you what you think, not to torture you.)

Rachel, thank you – this was not torture. Okay, it was. But I got a lot of out of it!

Your question showed me I had seen my weak promise to myself but I had not renegotiated a new one. That was kind of a weany of me and everybody  seeing you are making impossible commitments is one thing, but the next step? Make a promise you can keep!

Next, I saw that I didn’t want to deal with this. Avoidance!  Squirming!

I finally peeked at the Satisfaction Finder and I went through the four elements of setting COE’s (Conditions of Enoughness):

  1. Name what is enough in simple facts. What you will actually do next. Measurable. Doable.
  2. Include a time element. By when, for how long, whatever.
  3. Ensure they’re dependent on ONLY YOU on an AVERAGE day. Not a superhuman day.
  4. Declare you are satisfied when your conditions are met—even if you don’t feel satisfied.

and then I still didn’t set any COE’s. Still didn’t make a new commitment to myself.

Jen, what’s the big deal?

It came to me last night.

Setting COE’s that I can actually keep is not sexy.

High lofty unclear goals are sexy. And safe. No actual action can be taken so I don’t have to actually live the messy process and experience the imperfect results.

I blush as I write this but it’s true. There is a part of me that likes to remain childlike and keep her dreams in the lofty, big, unclear realm.

Where someday I will “play a bigger game.”

And do yoga 45 minutes a day for six days a week no matter what my schedule looks like.

Rachel, we both know, given our conversations that real change – and real life – happens in the most prosaic ways, and places. Imperfectly, messily, beautifully.

I like big and sexy and unlimited – who doesn’t? – but my life happens here.

I like here more.

That’s one reason why my sweetheart Bob is such a great match for me. He loves the prosaic. Me, I’m more in love with potential.

Lucky they both start with P.

So my COE’s for this yoga series is:

Download all the classes

Rename them in order

Put them in one playlist

By 5 pm tomorrow.

That’s it. After I do that, I will declare myself satisfied even if I don’t feel satisfied, which I probably won’t. But teaching myself to see where I slink away from enoughness and into idealized possibility is key for me.

Do you keep some dreams – maybe exercise or losing weight or launching your blog – in the realm of weak, unclear but ever so sexy – promises?

Or maybe you are great at declaring enoughness and precious prosaic action? Do tell how you do that!

P.S. Here’s an older post about COE’s you might find useful.

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