Commitment: 3 Steps To Going The Distance

This weekend I went to the wedding of my oldest and dearest friend. She used to say she would never get married. But there she was full of commitment and joy walking up the aisle. She had overcome her doubt, taken the risk and made a vow. It was inspiring to witness.

Many of us feel uncomfortable with commitment. We torment ourselves with questions such as: Will it make us happier? Is the right choice? What if I change my mind? Indecision is rife. If you are struggling with committing yourself, here are the three things that you need to know to embrace your future.

1.   Get Clear That Commitment Is Voluntary

Committing is the act of freely dedicating yourself to someone or something. It is also the official consignment of someone to an institution against their will. One is voluntary…the other is not.

Somewhere in the back of our minds is a sense that to commit is to be trapped. We become oppressed by words such as “should” and “ought”…often feeling the pressure to conform to expectations set outside of ourselves. By our peers, our culture, our families.

We think we will be trapped, that others will become our masters.

Before you expend any more energy on deliberating, get clear that this is your decision for your life. You are as free to choose one option as you are to choose the other.

By fully embracing this freedom…and the responsibility that goes with it…you will be empowered to move forward with integrity and resolve.

2.  Overcome Your Hidden Commitments

If you are struggling to commit to something, chances are you actually committed to something else. You just don’t know it.

You have been in a relationship with your partner for some time. The pressure in mounting as to whether to take it to the next level. You love them and are overtly committed to them…and confused by your desire to flee.

But what if, underneath it all, you are committed to something else entirely? Being single, for instance. Or being with other partners. Or being celibate. This is a hidden commitment.

You are offered a new role at work that would mean more money and more responsibility. You are committed to better pay and more status but you feel conflicted. Scratch the surface, though, and you may see that you are also committed to having a good work-life balance…or to having minimal stress in your life.

Once you have established your covert commitments you will be clearer about your conflict. With this clarity you will be able to exercise you freedom to choose either path. But in choosing one you necessarily give up the other.

A note here: the hidden commitments are often the ones that are holding you back.

3.    Honour Your Word

To commit is to give your word...and keep it. It can feel risky, as we don’t know what lies ahead.

Shying away from commitment can give the illusion that we are eluding this risk. This is the payoff. But the costs are great. Lack of commitment will paralyse you. It will undermine your confidence, vitality and relationships.

To commit…and to honour that commitment…will leave you feeling enlivened and empowered. It will also leave you being respected and trusted by others and respecting yourself.

Think over the people in your life. How do you feel about the ones who honour their word? Now give yourself the chance to be that person.

The Risk Is Always Worth It

With any commitment comes risk. There is uncertainty. But until you commit, you will remain in doubt. I’m going to leave you with the words of German writer Goethe who has so powerfully written about the act of committing oneself.

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.”