For years, I enjoyed a product called "Oatmeal to Go" from Quaker Oats. It was a special product in my life. It was a square oatmeal bar that tasted great. It had 220 calories and 4 grams of fat. And it was a very tasty breakfast product that I enjoyed just about every day for over 10 years. I'm someone who (when I like something) can eat the same meal every day without getting tired of it. And these "Oatmeal to Go" Brown Sugar Cinnamon bars were terrific. They tasted great, were filling and I came to count on them for my breakfast just about every day.
In addition to enjoying them at breakfast, they also had another special place in my life! They were an easy meal substitute when I was trying to lose weight. Whenever I wanted to shed a few pounds I'd substitute lunch or dinner with an "Oatmeal to Go" bar. And that, along with exercise, worked great at helping me drop a few pounds. Well, guess what? About a year ago Quaker Oats stopped making them! I was stunned. Yes, for years they weren't available in my local store and I had to buy them from Amazon... but I could always get them! Then, one day, they were no longer available.
It's now about a year after they became unavailable and I'm about 10 pounds heavier than I used to be, with no plan on how to lose the weight. I'm terrible at moderation... I don't stick to diet plans... yet, my "Oatmeal to Go" bars worked for me! Why did Quaker Oats do this to me? Don't they know that I need their bars to lose weight? Why? Why? Did I not buy 6 boxes at a time? Did I not have them auto-shipped to my home? I held up my end of the bargain... and yet they were still discontinued!
Since this is a blog from a therapist's website, I suppose I should have some sort of therapy "tie-in" to this story. And that tie-in is this. When we come to rely on something, we can become very attached to those things that work in our lives. And when those things change, or are taken away, it's often very difficult to adjust and be willing to find other ways that work as well. We tend to hang on to what has worked in the past and have a tendency to be stuck in old patterns, even when new patterns are available to us. Of course the moral of this story is that it's probably time I explored new breakfast items and new ways to lose weight that don't include my "Oatmeal to Go" bars. I guess I'll have to, but at least for the time being, I'm not going to like it!
Ever notice that the promises we make to other people tend to carry more weight than the promises we make to ourselves? Why is it that when we make commitments to others we are more likely to keep those commitments than we make them to ourselves? Shouldn't it be the other way around? Shouldn't the commitments we make to ourselves be at least as important as the ones we make to others? After all, we are responsible for ourselves and our own well being. When we don't follow through on our plans we delay accomplishing the things we want to accomplish.
For example, if I made a commitment to a friend of mine to go out jogging, I'd do it. So... clearly my word matters. However, when I tell myself I have to get up early and go jogging, it doesn't always get done. So looking at it logically, I definitely honor my word... at least to others! I think we all tend to let our own commitments to ourselves slide at times. "We always can do it tomorrow." Yes, that's true, however, that means the things we wanted to do tomorrow may never get done because of the things we have to do today. And so on and so on.
I think that as much as we can recognize that our commitments matter even when they're made to ourselves, the sooner we can move our lives forward in the ways that we choose. And by moving our lives forward, we can ultimately accomplish what we want to accomplish.
I don't know about you, but it seems to me that the older I get, the faster time seems to be marching forward. I wish I had an effective way to "put on the brakes" so that the years wouldn't just speed ahead so quickly. Remember when you were a kid and a school year seemed to last forever? Now, the years go by faster and faster. Think about it... the year 2000 was 17 years ago! The 90's seem like they just left us, and here we are over a decade and a half into the 21st century...
I guess the point of this post (if there is one) is to suggest that perhaps we can all become aware of the precious gift that "time" is in our lives. Instead of thinking we have an eternity to live the life we want, perhaps we can be conscious of the ever fleeting moments we have on this planet and really take stock of our goals and desires. In this way we can start living our lives with a purpose so that we can more be more likely to accomplish our goals.
Believe me, I have spent many days just lying on my couch watching daytime television. It can be easy to do. The problem is, when those days stop being appreciated as precious time, and instead we fall into lethargy and feel we have forever to accomplish what we want in our lives -- it's possible we could wake up a little too late to get back on track. That's why I advocate that everyone at least recognizes that time is precious and that perhaps we can all focus our attention a little more clearly on what we truly want in life, so that we can then focus on what it takes to get there.
David Schwartz, M.S., LMFT
David brings a wealth of life experience to his therapy practice. In addition to his therapy training, David has been a self-motivated entrepreneur for over 20 years, as well as working as a producer in the television industry.
David Schwartz, MS., Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist # 87261 -
30961 Agoura Rd., Suite 215, Westlake Village, CA 91361