“Please express your commitment in writing”

by Juliet Platt on July 20, 2010

in Journaling,Purpose and fulfilment

I’ve been thinking quite a bit recently about commitment. Not in the sense of making a commitment – I’m already married – but in the sense of being committed.

It occurs to me that when we are committed to something we do it almost without thinking. Something compels us from within, making it impossible for us to ignore for the sake of an easy life. This is what makes people want to climb mountains or do free-diving or take on the challenges of the Tour de France. And until we respond to that inner compulsion and become committed to train or practice or do whatever we need to do to scratch the itch, life can feel pretty empty and meaningless.

Just over fifteen years ago I was chatting to a work colleague who told me that she was writing a novel. I was filled with admiration, and not a little bit of envy, as she was the first person I had ever spoken to who was actually doing the thing I wished I was. “I’d love to be a writer,” I said, in what must have sounded a pretty pathetic tone of voice. “So do it,” she replied. “You can only call yourself a writer when you actually do some writing.”

She gave me short shrift, though it was no less than I deserved. At the time I knew I was in a job that didn’t really suit me, but I hadn’t found the gumption to stop and listen to my inner compulsion, and I thought I had to do the job I’d been offered rather than create anything for myself. 

As a result I was under-committed and bored.

However, because I was a nice, polite young lady, and, crucially, because I was totally unaware of my real talents and interests or what I was supposed to do about them,  I ignorantly and innocently played along and pretended that everything was fine and dandy. I was adept at deluding myself and everyone around me, and my regular tantrums, intransigence and fits of hopelessness were everyone else’s fault but my own.

Being committed to something that we are truly talented in, or that we have a strong inner compulsion to achieve, is a key ingredient of a happy life.

Of course sometimes commitment can tip over the other way, where what we’re doing saps more of our physical, mental and emotional energy than it ought, and where we have ceased to exercise any personal choice or perspective whatsoever.  This can happen when we become slaves to our jobs, or when other people in our life take what we do for granted.

So it’s important we are clear about what we are prepared to commit to, and then, being clear, it’s important we commit. Things will then slot into place and life will begin to feel easier, with greater flow, and less stuckness. If in doubt, remember the quote from the Scottish mountaineer William Hutchinson Murray: “Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness…the moment one definitely commits oneself then providence moves too…”

Express your commitment in writing by conducting an internal inquiry on the question of “what am I committed to” in your journal. Generate a list of all the things you find yourselves doing every day to begin to understand how under- or over-committed you are being in life and work.

Then step back, make a choice and commit. It could be magical.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Dawn Herring July 21, 2010 at 8:34 pm

Juliet,
Great post on commitment–following through on things that matter most. What you commit to really does determine the course of your life, unless something else intervenes and prevents you from following through. I do believe when you’ve made your decision, opportunities will arise to help you with that follow through.
Thanks so much for stopping by to comment on my post From Within.
Thanks for the journaling tip on being aware of what we’re committed to.

Be refreshed,
Dawn Herring
JournalWriter Freelance
@JournalChat on Twitter

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