“Commitment is doing the thing you said you were going to do —–long after the mood you said it in has left you.” anonymous

Life is about choices. We face them everyday, but we also live with the ones that we made, perhaps years ago, and over the course of our lifetime. Who we ended marrying, or where (or if) we decided to attend college, and the kind of job we pursued all shaped the life we are presently living. Truly, each decision generated an outcome which, in turn, led to another decision and outcome. We all know and understand this fundamental principle of life direction. But today’s newsletter is more about commitment than decision-making per se. It also has to do with values and one’s commitment to them.

In the world of professional golf, successful players understand the importance of commitment as it relates to their performance on the course. Imagine that a player is undecided about his/her club selection in a key situation. A choice between a six or a seven iron, let’s say. Whichever is chosen, let’s imagine that the shot turns out badly and it costs the player the tournament. During the post-round interview, the player is asked to comment on the disastrous, pivotal shot. Generally speaking, the player is unlikely to blame the six or seven iron choice. Instead, the pro will criticize his lack of commitment to the shot itself. He will concede that a well struck six or seven iron would have been better than the timidly hit one.

Many of my readers are probably not golfers and may have little interest in a given tournament outcome. But the underlying principle applies to all of us, I believe. In a love relationship, for example, the psychologist Robert Sternberg tells us that there are three components or elements to a total love relationship: passion, intimacy, and commitment. Any student or fledgling entrepreneur will concede that there were times of doubt as they pursued their career goal. A future doctor or businessman may have faced serious questions about their ability to pass given classes or secure funding for their project. Each must have persevered at some point if they ultimately achieved their personal, educational, or career goal.

I mentioned values earlier. They are simply concepts that are attached to our goals. The glue of that attachment is commitment. A person who, for example, professes to the value and importance of family must make a personal commitment to expending time and energy in support of that value. A woman who aspires to attain a college degree must commit both time and money to that goal. While others are relaxing or socializing, she must discipline and direct herself to study.

What in your life do you profess to be a personal value or goal, but have not made a commitment to achieve? Lack of commitment only makes us feel weak and indecisive. Once a commitment to one’s goals is achieved, there is clarity of purpose. While the attainment of the goal may be in the distance, there is a relief and joy that flows from that decision.

Truly, an individual who literally knows where s/he is going tends to be at peace. Conversely, a person who is lost, feels frustrated and either angry, anxious or saddened. Imagine being on a road trip without a map or GPS. Even worse, picture heading to a destination in Ohio that begins with “C.” Is it Cleveland, Columbus, or Cincinnati? How would that feel? Then suppose that a phone call clarifies the destination and provides directions to arrive there. How would that feel?

Are you “committed to the shot” in your personal and work life? Once we arrive at that clarity of purpose, the road to a happy and satisfying life will present itself, and you will enjoy the journey as well.

“We have to recognize that there cannot be relationships unless there is commitment; unless there is loyalty; unless there is love, patience and persistence.” – Cornel West