Commitment is a word that is used and perhaps carelessly abused more than any other word in the English language. It’s a word that rolls off people’s tongues without consideration to what it means or costs. It’s a word that is used to brow-beat, shame or hold hostage the people around us. Let’s explore this word and what it really means to be committed to something.
I’m Committed to Change This Year
As the new year approaches in a few weeks and the calendar flips to January 1st the “New Year Resolution Engine” will be roaring with light speed, as people commit to lose weight, exercise more, quit smoking, quit drinking, be faithful, go to church more, read more, go back to school, etc.
A study by Details online gives the following reality check of “new year’s resolutions going into 2014:
45: Percentage of Americans who usually make New Year’s resolutions
10: Amount by which people who fully commit to making resolutions are more successful at keeping them.
1 in 3: Number of people who ditch their vows by the end of January. Top reasons include being too busy or not being committed to their goals in the first place.
66: Percentage of resolvers who set fitness goals as part of their resolutions.
73: Percentage of those who gave up before meeting their goal.
4: The number of times those same people have given up on their fitness resolutions in the past.
7: Percentage by which men are more successful than women at resolving to exercise.
38: Percentage of people who don’t make resolutions in the first place.
The Top American Resolutions:
21% Weight loss
10% Get a new job
7% Healthier eating
5% Manage stress better
5% Stop/reduce smoking
5% Improve a relationship
3% Stop procrastinating
3% Set time aside for self
3% Start a new activity/hobby
2% Improve my work habits
2% Stop/reduce drinking alcohol
1% Assertion/learn to say no
In fact, January 17 has become known as “Ditch Your New Year’s Resolution Day”, since that’s when most people give-up on their commitment. Just over two weeks! 🙁 Were they committed to change or were they in love with the idea of change? Read on:
Infatuation With the Idea of Change
The unaltered, un-sugar-coated facts are that people are in love with the idea of change, just like they’re in love with the idealized idea of love. It gives them warm and fuzz feelings, it makes their heartbeat quicken, their eyes dilate, their desire level go through the roof. Read what one study says happens physiologically when we “love”
“Falling in love causes our body to release a flood of feel-good chemicals that trigger specific physical reactions,” said . “This internal elixir of love is responsible for making our cheeks flush, our palms sweat and our hearts race.”
Levels of these substances, which include dopamine, adrenaline and norepinephrine, increase when two people fall in love. Dopamine creates feelings of euphoria while adrenaline and norepinephrine are responsible for the pitter-patter of the heart, restlessness and overall preoccupation that go along with experiencing love.
Pat Mumby, PhD, co-director of the Loyola Sexual Wellness Clinic and professor, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neurosciences, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine (SSOM)
So, a physically/emotionally combustible cocktail of “love” hits our systems with the force of a tidal wave slamming into a coastal town. It overwhelms the logical aspect of reality in many cases. This can be healthy and okay when there is love and reality, but what happens when this is just fantasy?
Can We Tell the Difference?
Telling the difference between the fantasy of love and the reality is difficult when the battle is waged inside a person’s mind. The fantasy part is driven by chemicals mixing inside you like a potion-crazed-Dr. Jekyll and as your body is flooded like a junkie, to the point where the between fantasy and reality is gone.
Unfortunately, many people, myself included careen down the path of fantasy and when reality hits we’re disillusioned, angry, hurt and swear to never choose love again. Here’s the crux though and that’s fantasy is NEVER, EVER LOVE, but our chemical induced fantasy mind thinks it is!
Here are just a few examples of fantasy. See if you see real love anywhere in these?
The married man who glances at the beautiful office secretary, mentally engaging in a relationship with her- forgetting her flaws, neglecting her deficits.
The single woman, analyzing and obsessing over a man she’s hardly talked to. Imagining what life could be if, and when…only to have her heart broken by his lack of interest.
The housewife, trapped in the fantasy and excitement of her romance novels, leaving her own reality behind instead of dealing with it.
The young woman stuck in an abusive marriage, making excuses and living for the dream of who he could be rather than acknowledging who he actually is and taking steps toward safety.
The newly-wed young man, fascinated by the beautiful images on his computer screen, growing numb to the beauty of the real woman in his life. Neglecting what he has for what he doesn’t actually have.
There isn’t a single bit of real love in these examples. Instead we find people living in their own minds, creating the perfect scenarios and perfect image from imperfect people. Add-in the influx of easily access “not safe for work” (NSFW) and pornography and you have the makings of a connected mass of dehumanized robots.
Is There Any Hope?
I’m sure many are asking, “so, what does this have to do with commitment you blowhard?” Great question and the answer is “EVERYTHING!” Go back to the definitions at the start and you’ll see synonyms including, dedication, devotion, allegiance, loyalty, faithfulness, fidelity. Commitment is more than word service like “I’ll do it”, rather it’s “you do it, every day, every moment, whether anyone sees it or not!”
We need to go back to the basics of keeping your word (ie, commitments), doing what you say you’ll do and being faithful to the agreements you make. This is as much true toward yourself and your resolutions, since you’re making a pact or commitment to yourself. When you break a commitment, you slowly begin to die emotionally and it creates additional stress on your life. Further, breaking your commitments causes you to lose more and more self-confidence. This vicious circle can be reversed, but it’s similar to turning a giant aircraft carrier, which doesn’t happen instantly.
The first and only key is to keep your commitment to your commitments! Okay, Jonathan, that’s obvious, but how the heck do we do that?
Obvious? No, it’s not obvious, because if that key were so obvious then everyone would be doing it AND THERE WOULDN’T BE A MIND-NUMBING NUMBER OF PEOPLE WITH BROKEN HEARTS, DISASTROUS RELATIONSHIPS, LOSING JOBS OVER NEGLECT, AND SO FORTH! It’s either that or people are too stubborn or idiotic to actually follow the advice! Perhaps some are the latter, but the vast majority are in the former group.
A third possibility is that people don’t have the tools to keep their commitments, so let me outline what you need and then it’s up to you to put it into practice. You can’t buy commitment, you can’t order it online or have it shipped to you express mail. No, keeping your commitments takes work, it takes discipline and it takes having to make choices about what your real priorities are.
If you don’t keep your commitment it begins to deplete your self -esteem and it erodes your self-image.
~ Les Brown
Some Steps to Keeping Your Commitments
I’m not going list a bunch of steps for you to keep your commitments, since if you’re like I was, it will simply be overwhelming and you’ll quit within a few weeks. Instead I’m going to give you some steps you can do today and every day. After a month of putting them into practice you can begin to add other steps. If you find yourself going off track though I would recommend you do the following steps until they’re habits. Then move on. (Note: it’s not that being committed takes a tremendous number of steps, rather it takes discipline and that’s where most people fall of track. That’s why you must truly know your priorities first, then it will really matter to you and you’re more likely to stay committed)
- First, you have to sit down and spend some time thinking about what your real priorities are in your life. I mean you really have to put some time into putting into order what you believe is most important. For example, in my situation I realized that for me the order is Faith, Family, Health, Work and Everything Else. I will write a separate post about this, but you need to start putting your priorities in order, for if you don’t then the priorities will simply be whatever is urgent at the moment
- Second, now that you have your priorities, you need to write them down EVERYWHERE! I recommend that you print a chart with the percentages that you will focus on each priority. Print it out and post it everywhere you can. I have it on my mirror, by the front door, at my work desk, in my wallet, wallpaper on my phone and computer. The more places you post it, the more you’ll see it and focus on it. That can lead you to stay committed to your commitments!
- Third, share your desire with a few close friends who will hold you accountable. Pick these people carefully, since you don’t want people who will distract you or discourage you from your commitments. In fact, when I started this process the people I would have asked to hold me accountable turned out to be the worst possible choices. That’s because their own focus was on priorities that weren’t in line with mine. Asking them would have created conflict for me and I likely wouldn’t have lasted in keeping my commitments. CHOOSE CAREFULLY!
- Fourth and finally, I want you to start every day for the next 30 days by listening to Les Brown talking about the possibilities and as you listen I want you to think about your priorities and commitments. I want you to be energized that it is possible for you to keep your commitments and ride the wave of motivation and energy. Here’s the video:
The Dark Side of Commitments & Change
As I wrap up this post I want you to realize that this change won’t be easy. There will be times of doubt and struggle and you’ll want to quit this process. There will be people, perhaps friends and even family who will try to sabotage or discourage this change. The reasons why they would do this is for another post, but just know ahead of time that your “being committed to your commitments” won’t be received with open and happy arms by everyone. DO NOT LET THEM OR ANYTHING STOP YOU FROM FOLLOWING THROUGH. THIS IS ABOUT THE GOOD AND NECESSARY CHANGES IN YOUR LIFE!
Sadly, so many people go through their lives letting circumstances, emotion and urgent (not important) things sway their priorities by the hour, day or week. The problem is that when priorities take over places above where they deserve the result is a fungus like growth around the other priorities and it causes disease that chokes out the good of the other priorities. For example, if you spend more time with your friends or on Facebook or social media than you do with your family then eventually you will have “dis-ease” or “not at ease” with your family and the other priorities.
You’re not one of those people, if you stay committed to your commitments! Don’t stop and if you get off track for a moment then reset your mind and start again staying committed to your commitments! You have this in you and the changes that will occur over the next month will change your life and the life of those important to you as you move forward!
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To your success and commitments!