What is commitment?

People use the same word, “committed” or “commitment”, to describe someone’s devotion to pledge, bind, or oblige one’s self to something: a course of action, a system of principles.

Certainly there are some similarities between the kind of obsession that leads us to do horrifying things to ourselves or others and the kind of obsession that leads us to unbelievable heights of greatness. We can look at someone really successful in his chosen field and see at work the steadfast commitment to a dream of how the world could work, and the refusal to acknowledge other, “less important” ways.

Still vague? So what is commitment, then?

It’s knowing there’s something larger than yourself

Commitments are extremely personal ideals, but they’re also about relationships. The committed mother sacrifices everything to express her love for her children and strives to keep the household as conducive as ever for family gatherings. The committed doctor cares first and foremost for the emotional and physical well-being of his or her patients. The committed artist takes the stage in the service of the spectators. True commitment embraces and engages not only the goal but also the world.

It’s all about action.

Actions speak louder than words, remember? A person who is committed displays that commitment, over and over, through his or her actions. If your actions don’t match your commitment, you’re just not committed to it. You may have a conviction, an intuition, a desire, but, sadly enough, not a commitment.

It’s all about passion.

You may say obsessive passion. Someone who is really committed to something cannot but do it. You can’t live without realizing your cause or being able to get what you really want. Accomplishing that commitment gives you a great sense of pride and pleasure. Passion is relentless. It doesn’t rest. It doesn’t settle for anything less than the best.

It involves an obligation.

The thing that actually separates the truly committed from the rest of us is the way they accept the most lowly and difficult parts of the job, putting their minds into it and always taking every opportunity to work rather than cower from it. A committed person does these things not because they are fun or enjoyable in their own right, but because your commitment demands you to do them.

It’s not imposed on anybody.

Commitment is obligation, that is really true, but it’s a freely chosen obligation. When you feel forced into doing something, when you feel obligations being poured upon you like cold water, whenever your actions fail to match your principles — these are the telltale signs that you aren’t as committed as you thought you were. Maybe not even committed at all. You have to give your utmost attention to those signs. It’s easy to convince ourselves of a commitment that isn’t really a commitment at all. But what does that profit us? Nothing. None at all.

Your thoughts

What do you think? What are your thoughts on the matter? What do you like to add? What are your experiences with regards to being committed?

Let us all know in the comments!

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About the Author

Stephen NellasStephen is part of the Software Jewel team, the company behind Clutterpad and BiP. He's also a regular author for BiP.View all posts by Stephen Nellas →