Monday, September 30, 2013

Turning Commitment Failure into Commitment Success

At the beginning of each chapter of John R. Dallas’s book “We Need to Have A Word,” he asks the reader to answer several questions.They are: Seeing this chapter’s title word, what immediately comes to your open mind? Do you already have a working relationship with this word? Somewhere inside of you does this word instantly appeal? As a response to a specific situation at-hand, will this word work to your and others’ advantage?

My working relationship with this weeks word Commitment conjures up images of a barren path that is straight with no beautiful greenery, no fun side-trips or surprise revelations. Because, once you commit you can’t change course, right? Au contraire my dear readers! 

Author Tom Robbins, said it best, “Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.”    

What I noticed about my relationship with Commitment is that I automatically went to the negative-side of my commitments. Not exercising, blowing off attending an event, not fulfilling my volunteer duties. The I more dwelled on the negative, the more inactive I became.  

But, when I started focusing on the commitments I do fulfill: work, being there for a friend, cleaning my kitchen each night before I go to bed, writing this blog, I saw that I succeeded.

What I discovered as I thought about this word, I had another problem. My problem isn’t with committing, it’s with over committing. 

In a 2005 study by Gal Zauberman, PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and John Lynch Jr., PhD, Duke University, they found that when we commit to something we believe we will have more time, more money in the future that will help us fulfill the commitment. 

According to Zauberman and Lynch, that’s false. So many things beyond our control are tossed in the way. Bad weather, traffic jams, can all wreak havoc on a commitment.  

So, do I just not commit to anything? Obviously, that would be impractical. 

Among the steps I'm taking to be better about my commitments, is the Tom Robbins approach -- when I do commit, I’ll be flexible with my approach. 

And, when I’m asked to commit, I’ll think it over and not automatically say yes as the pleaser in me is apt to do. I’ll ask myself: Is this something I really want to do? Do I really have the time to fulfill the commitment? 

Margie Warrell, a writer for Forbes, who uses the moniker of “Daring people to work, live & lead more courageously” has some great great questions to contemplate in one of her Forbes article. Her first question is a gem, Is this aligned with my top priorities, goals and values? What a great question to get me focused. 

As I contemplated this weeks word and answered Warrell's first question, I was motivated to be more focused. Since I last published, I’ve been excersing more, eating better, and most importantly thinking through my ability to follow through before I say yes to any future commitment. 

I am embracing no more un-focused committing. My new image when I think of commitment, is a lush green winding road with fun side trips, and surprise revelations. 

Enjoy commitment!

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