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What are You Committed to in Your Life?

February 6, 2023

Commitment. A word that I am not fond of in many ways. The word commitment feels like I have to do something or know I need to do something. Commitment doesn’t feel like I have many choices in the matter. You’re committed to doing a project, or you’re committed to bringing bars for the bake sale. 

Commitment is an engagement or obligation that restricts freedom of action (Dictionary). This definition brings me feelings of heaviness and uncomfortableness.  

Love has a different feel to the word—a softness, gentleness to my body. Love is an intense deep feeling of affection or taking a great interest or pleasure in something (Dictionary). 

Where commitment sounds difficult in my body, love fills my body with ease.

Often we use these two words together, love and commitment. I love my husband and am committed to our marriage. I love my children and am committed to being a good parent. I love my job and am committed to being good at my job.

Over the weekend, I was reading What Works by Tara McMullin for the Modern Learners book club, where I am a participant. The book addresses how we looked at goal setting and changed my perception of the word commitment. McMullin writes about Goals vs. Commitments:

“Goals are the basic building blocks of achievement-oriented structure. And while it doesn’t have to be the case, that means how we strive to achieve those goals becomes part of the foundation of our life structure. Commitments, on the other hand, are the basic building blocks of practice-oriented structure. Commitments give direction to personal values, create a presence of mind, and help you connect to the evolution of your core identity. Commitments help you reorient without reintroducing striving.”

She goes on to say, “A commitment is an excellent structure for ensuring that things we do actually mean something to us.”

Commitment points toward values, practice, and connection in ways goals do not. 

When I view my statement that I am committed to being good at my job through the lens of McMullin’s quote, I see that my statement points toward my values of being competent, knowledgeable, engaging, and responsible. I also think this definition of commitment gives me grace. It lets me know that it’s a practice, a journey, and not always about the end goal or outcome.

Much of our work is geared towards achieving goals; however, what happens when you switch goals to commitments? 

In your life, what are you committed to practicing? What are the values that shine through your commitments? How does this definition of commitment shift the way you view your identity? 

I now have a different perspective when I hear the word commitment. Commitment now brings me freedom, balance, and grace in a very achievement-oriented culture.