The New Year is the traditional time to make commitments. The trouble is we tend to abandon them a week later. Yes, commitments can be scary. We equate the word “committed” with being put behind bars in a mental institution or being boxed in by an organization or a relationship that no longer serves us. We’re afraid of being bound by commitments that no longer fulfill us.
One reason we don’t honor our commitments is because our goals aren’t energizing. Many of us say, “I really should lose weight,” or “I have to reduce my debt.” We get caught up in “shoulds” and “have tos” instead of choosing goals that truly matter – ones we are passionate about. Our passion helps us to stretch beyond our comfort zones and into the unknown. Commitment is more than an intention or desire. True commitments announce an unwavering intention to move forward in a specific direction.
Instead of unconsciously setting yourself up for disappointment by choosing the same worn out resolutions, put some boldness and bite into your commitments. Consider leaving the job you’ve always hated, starting the family you’ve always wanted, and creating a life you love. We know we’ve chosen a meaningful goal if it’s compelling, if it pulls us forward like a magnet.
Our commitments pull us toward our goals. And commitment matters more than outcome. Keeping commitments nurtures the inner knowing that we can count on ourselves—that we possess the ability to make things happen. So, get moving! Move forward in a way that spurs a deeper belief in your ability to honor your commitments with yourself and with others.
And guess what? There is magic in sharing your goals with others. When we tell others about our commitments, we build accountability into our lives. Telling five people what we commit to strengthens our intention and our resolve. Like a wedding, when two people gather their loved ones to witness their marriage vows, they call upon their community to support them in honoring their commitments to each other.
One reason we don’t commit is that we are afraid we won’t be able to keep our promise. We fear being seen as dishonorable if we don’t keep our word. In many cases, if we are able to keep all our promises it’s because we don’t make very big ones.
We get to choose how big a game we play. We can commit to something significant, something we’re passionate about, where failure is possible and sometimes probable. History books are filled with examples of ordinary folks, like you and me, who passionately pursued an ideal or fought for a cause they believed in. Some never saw the results of their actions in their own lifetimes. Successful people know that it’s better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all. The Polish concert pianist Ignace Paderewski, demonstrated his commitment every time he played. After a concert, a fan said to him, “Sir, I would give my life to play like you.” Paderewski answered, “I have.”
We could choose the cautious, predictable route where success is assured. However the price to pay for security can be a heavy one. Many wake up one day to find their lives have become listless and dull. Directionless. Void of any deeper meaning. So, where does your life lie on the continuum of commitments? What game would you play if you knew you could not fail? Would you play a bigger game even if you knew you would fail? If the answer is no, then go home. Don’t play.
Playing wholeheartedly includes the possibility of failure. That knowledge nourishes a deep inner confidence. Instead of letting fear roll off your back, harness it for your own personal empowerment. Stop hiding from fear and use fear as a signpost of where to move next. The voice that tells you that you might fail is often a disguise for your inner truth, the part of you that knows that, “This really matters!” Recognizing that you might fail to deliver can actually deepen your engagement and passion. It doesn’t matter whether you win or lose, because total engagement builds the muscles that make you a leader worth following.
Goethe says, “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” What are you still committed to and what old intentions can you let go of to make room for more compelling dreams? Once a year, re-evaluate your commitments. This year put boldness and passion into your commitments.
Written by Martha Lasley
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