For New Year's this year, my family and I took a vacation to Aruba, where my son Ty taught me a valuable life lesson. It had to do with tubing. Yes, I mean the kind where you're behind a motorboat, being violently whipped around…but I'll get to that in a second.
It was our last day, and the four of us had just finished a 4-hour ATV tour through the national park. I felt like I'd already "done" the adventure for the day, so I was looking forward to relaxing on the beach with a pina colada. But as Ty and I stood looking out at the ocean, he reminded me: "You know, we talked about going tubing. Remember?"
I sighed. Yes, I remembered. It looked like a giant headache waiting to happen. Instead of a tube, you sat in a big inflatable sofa-like thing, and the boat jerked you around for twenty minutes while you hung on for dear life. I'm all for adventure – but that pina colada was really calling my name.
"It's okay," said Ty, before I even opened my mouth. "We don't have to do it. I can tell you don't want to."
But instead of relief, I just felt bad. I could see the disappointment in his eyes. Ty was my adventure buddy, and I was letting him down.
When I say "adventure buddy," I don't mean anything official. We never signed anything; there's no secret handshake. But we joke about it all the time, how we're partners in crime, doing big, fun, daring things together that nobody else wants to do. On countless occasions, Ty has stepped up when I want to do something—rock-climbing, ziplining, hiking, anything. He's our little fearless one, and he's always willing to go along with me on what I want to do.
And now here I was, letting him down.
So I said, "No. You know what? We are gonna go out there and we're doing that tubing!"
Ty's smile was so big, it felt like the sun coming out. So we got in our swimsuits and went down to the docks, and spent the next twenty minutes being whipped around on the sofa-tube, laughing so hard we cried. We had the best time – like we always do when we do things together.
Yes, it was wild and fun and outside my comfort zone, but what really made that event so special was that I knew I was holding up my agreement with my son. I got to honor all the times he'd been willing to step out of his comfort zone and come along for the ride with me.
Let me turn to you. Is there a relationship in your life where there's an unspoken (or spoken) agreement?
Maybe it's listening to a friend vent about work, knowing that she'll let you vent, too. Maybe it's a chore trade-off with your spouse – you empty the dishwasher, then he fills it, whatever. Maybe it's committing to a weekly run with your "workout buddy" – showing up (and holding them accountable for showing up) even when you'd rather sleep in.
Are you holding up your end of the bargain?
Chances are, when you honor that commitment you've made to a loved one – and you do it with a smile and an open heart – the results will come back to you tenfold.
Notice that I’m not talking about doing it begrudgingly, or with the ulterior motive of getting that person to do something for you. That will probably just make you feel lousy. I'm talking about making a small sacrifice to step outside your comfort zone in order to honor the feelings of someone you love. To make the choice to shift your mindset away from "Ugh, I don't want to" into "Okay, I'll give it a try."
It's about holding yourself to the standards that you agreed to. It's about stepping into the better, more authentic, more fulfilled version of yourself. I’m an adventurer, not a person who spends my vacation drinking on the beach – even though that sounded better at the time. But that wouldn't have brought me the fulfillment that adventure AND being a mom that stands by her agreement would bring. Ultimately, stepping up was the absolute best thing I could ever have done for both of us.
What is that for you?
What's something you can do to honor your commitment to someone special?
Go out, make your adventure buddy smile, and shine.
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