April 1st, April Fools Day, is my twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. I wrote about the risk I took on a new relationship in my post, Fools Risk Magic, on April 1, 2013. Today, though, I’m talking about commitment. Not about commitment to a person necessarily, although that’s lovely and one kind of long term commitment. But let’s talk about a long-term commitment to a goal. That goal can be a long and happy marriage, a published book, a fit, and healthy body, or any number of other things. Whatever it is, your long term commitment is not a simple pinky-swear.
What It Is
Commitment is dedicating yourself to a person, a cause, or a purpose. It’s something you should give considerable thought before you make one. Commitments can last days, weeks, months, years, decades.
When you make a commitment, you make a choice and a promise. It’s up to you to review your choices and their logical outcomes and consequences before you make a commitment. Your promise is to dedicate yourself to that person, cause, or purpose.
It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.— J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
A long term commitment requires many things.
What does honesty with yourself mean? You must be honest with yourself about what the commitment is. Honest about what it means to you. And honest about what actions you must take to fulfill your commitment. Making the choice to commit to something can be freeing, but it can also mean you must give something up. Be honest about what you are willing to give up.
Your commitment requires integrity. Integrity is your morals, your ethics, and the wholeness of you. Someone who is emotionally available is considerate of others, and whose behaviors match their stated morals and ethics has wholeness.
Insight is an awareness or knowledge of your strengths and your weaknesses. You are able to look at your emotional baggage (we all have some). When you have insight, you understand how your emotional baggage will affect your ability to commit. You know you must do to move past that emotional barrier to honor your commitment.
You always have two choices: your commitment versus your fear.–Sammy Davis, Jr.
All commitments require personal responsibility. When you have personal responsibility you are able to instigate actions on your own. You accept accountability and liability of your actions. Your actions are how you carry through on your commitments.
Vision is the ability to see outcomes, to see success. Long term commitments require belief in the outcome. You must be able to visualize what success looks like. Because you can envision success, you will act and follow through all the way to that end.
Passion is the fire that roars to life inside you. You can have momentary excitements—a one-nighter if you will. You need a burning passion to manage the detours and disappointments and difficulties that long-term commitments often experience. The deeper your passion runs, the more likely you will fulfill your commitment. So before you make a commitment, measure your passion.
The Ability to Accept Change
In any long term commitment, there will be change. Be flexible enough to accept changes and adapt your actions as needed. Focus on what you can control.
When your vision, values, passions, thoughts, words, and actions align with a commitment, you have integration. And you have a greater chance of success. The inability to integrate these things often leads to failed or abandoned commitments.
Stick-to-it-ness is a must for long term commitments. Understand the length of the process, the work of commitment, and dedicate yourself to it.
Are You Interested or Committed to Your Goal?
Many times we commit to a goal but we’ve not aligned that goal with who we are. We mistake excitement for passion and interest for commitment. What’s the difference?
- Interest flits from one thing to the next. Commitment works every day.
- Interest works when it’s convenient. Commitment schedules the work and makes time to work.
- Interest will get to it later. Commitment focuses and works toward small goals that stair step to the larger one.
- Interest makes excuses. Commitment finds ways to improve, gains new skills, and discovers alternate solutions.
- Interest follows the new thing. Commitment is all-in for the duration.
Not a Simple Pinky-Swear
When you choose to make a long term commitment, make certain you’ve not done a simple pinky-swear. Go all-in. Use your honesty, integrity, insight, personal responsibility, vision, and passion. Adapt, integrate, and persevere and you will be amazed at what you can accomplish.
Commitment unlocks the doors of imagination, allows vision, and gives us the right stuff to turn our dream into reality.– James Womack
You might wonder why I, a woman in her second marriage, thinks she can discuss commitment. That is precisely why I can. My commitment failed, not entirely my own fault, but in part because I lacked some of the things listed above. I also struggled with writing for many years until I made an all-in commitment to it.
Making a long term commitment to any person, cause, or purpose is not a simple pinky-swear. I’m not here to tell you what to commit to or how to commit to it. I share what I’ve learned in the hope that if it helped me, it will help you. I hope you found this post helpful. And I’d love to hear from you. What all-in commitments have you made?