I have such a huge problem keeping commitments to myself that I fear I will never achieve my life goals. I have procrastinated so much in graduate school that I may not graduate. I am 100 pounds overweight, but can’t keep a healthy eating/exercise plan for more than a couple of weeks. I put off balancing my checkbook until I overspend and must borrow money from school or friends to keep lights on and rent up-to-date. I’m in my 40s and have a chance for a well-paying career in a field I enjoy, but procrastination holds me back. I am very good about keeping commitments to others but not to myself, maybe because I know that if I break a promise to myself, no one will criticize or turn away from me. But I’m left with extra pounds, extra debt and a hard-fought-for-degree hanging by a thread. Your column has provided me with much spiritual insight these last few years. Any insight for me?
Shall we call this a hard-fought-against degree? Your adversarial approach indicates that your heart is elsewhere. Edmund Morris writes that U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt was a man “congenitally unable to question the rightness of his own decisions. Second thoughts were like grief; they inhibited the vital onrush of life.” Luckily, you’re not Teddy. If this career feeds your ego but not your soul, pursue something else. Otherwise, answer this: What belief about yourself would you have to give up if you secured a well-paying career in a field that you enjoyed?
Remember that creative and intuitive people may appear, by society’s standards, to procrastinate. Actually they’re waiting until their internal mechanisms align before taking action. And, if you’re creative (or have a short attention span), a rigidly scheduled exercise program is boring. Design a plan that spells fun.
Ask friends if they agree that you retain your commitments to them. If so, perhaps you are so busy pleasing others that you’re too tired to tend to you. What’s the value in allowing your dreams to be chronically peripheral? (You wouldn’t have to graduate.)
Also, is it true that, if you let yourself down, no one criticizes or turns away from you? Isn’t your letter a criticism? How have you turned away from you? By being hard on yourself? Are your expectations too high for the time you allot to change or achieve goals?
Get by with a little help. Find friends to exercise with and friends to baby-sit you until the schoolwork is complete. Then go to the library and check out books on money management. I’ll look forward to an invitation to your graduation.
I ended a four-year relationship after discovering that my partner had been unfaithful repeatedly. I suspected it and addressed it, but, as I know now, he lied every time. Honesty. Why do men fail at this very basic step?
Our entire species suffers from the disease: peccadilloes to friends or employer, stories inflated for amusement, and blatant betrayals. Some people believe that lies and betrayal are less painful than dealing with their own issues. Let’s look at yours: you didn’t trust him. It’s not fair to you that you expected a commitment from someone that you didn’t trust. Also, repeated affairs = addiction. So at least one person in the relationship was grounded in infatuation, not love. Be grateful that you had the courage to end the abuse.