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In The Meaning Of Life and various articles on how to win someone’s heart, how to find a wife / husband, there is a central theme of thought creating reality. How does this actually happen though? Why is it more effective to think about the things you want? We’ll answer this question through the concept of commitment.
What Is Commitment?
What does it mean to commit to something? What does it mean when you say something like “I will finish school”?
Let’s look at a person committed to finishing college vs. a person who isn’t. Let’s say both of these people failed a class and are on the verge of dropping out. What would each person do? What would each person think?
Here are some possible thoughts each of the two people:
* I have to finish college. What can I do to get a better grade?
* How can I convince my advisor to not kick me out and give me a second chance?
* That guy seems to get better grades I do, wonder how I can be more like him.
* I must do better, I have to study harder.
* I can’t go to parties anymore because I really need to not fail.
* There must be some way for a motivated student to stay in.
* What can I change about myself so that I can do better next semester?
* Hey, I gave it my best shot. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out.
* I can go to work at my dad’s business if they don’t let me back in.
* Bill Gates never finished college and he turned out just fine.
* College is overrated anyway.
* What more could I have done?
* I’m already making $1 million/year elsewhere. What do I need school for?
We can see that the committed student only has thoughts about how he can finish college while the uncommitted student continuously second guesses himself and plans for the cases where he isn’t going to finish school. Therein lies the meaning of commitment.
To commit: To no longer consider possibilities that are inconsistent with the object of your commitment.
For example, if the committed student had a thought about quitting college, he would quickly put it out of his head. “I’ve committed to finishing college and this solution doesn’t give me what I want”. The “solutions” that has to do with alternatives of quitting college are no longer considered solutions!
Isn’t it bad to commit then since it cuts you off from considering all possibilities? After all, what if the committed student could lead a better life if he doesn’t finish college? For example, if he was already making $1 million/year elsewhere, maybe that’s a reasonable alternative, right? Well, yes and no.
Yes, it’s possible that the student can lead a better life outside of college. However, in order to give himself the best chance of finishing college, he sacrifices that particular possibility!
That’s because there are only so many hours in a day and so much time your brain has to think. If your brain is thinking about what it would be like to quit school, then it’s not thinking about ways to stay in school. Each decision in life has so many possibilities and alternatives that thinking about any one branch (such as ways to quit school and be okay) can take a very long time. Wouldn’t you be much more likely to come up with a solution if you’d used all that energy to think about ways you can stay in school? Maybe you would’ve gotten a lot more studying done!
In a way, a commitment is just a really big decision. When you decide something, you prune away other possibilities. For example, if you choose to eat a chocolate ice cream, you are giving up the possibility of eating a strawberry ice cream, eating a steak, or one of infinite other things you can do.
When you commit, it is a decision to work towards a particular long(er) term goal. You are saying, “I will no longer consider other alternatives because this is what I want to do. I will think about ways to accomplish this goal and banish all thoughts that are not towards this end”. You dedicate all your energy to making this dream a reality, making it almost impossible for you not to succeed.
Additionally, you will have a metric to judge things. If you commit to something, then things that help you towards your commitment are good, and things against your commitment are bad. You’ll always have some framework to evaluate your problems so that you won’t ever be haunted by indecision.
When people see this type of confidence, they are much more likely to join you on your quest also, making it even more likely that you’ll succeed!
Should You Commit?
Of course, there are advantages to not committing too. You get to keep your options open in case something better comes along. However, doing so poses significant risks in that you’ll develop a habit of jumping from thing to thing, never quite getting anything accomplished.
Not committing does have its place however. For example, if you have no clue what kind of sport you like and you’re trying them out, so it can be a useful philosophy at times.
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each:
* Locked in, refuse to consider other alternatives.
* Focused – much more likely to succeed because you’re focused.
* Confidence – No doubt, since your mind is only focused on how to obtain the object of your commitment.
* Always have a guide as to what’s right and what’s wrong.
* Can overcome great adversity.
* Inspires people to follow you because they can trust you – you have integrity.
* Flexible, lots of options.
* Highly likelihood of not getting anywhere with it.
* Quits at the first sign of trouble.
* Hard to get people to tag along because you don’t believe in the cause yourself.
* Mind can change easily.
Of course, each of these has their own strengths. However, I have found that when you commit, it’s rare that you don’t succeed. In situations like romantic relationships, it’s absolutely vital so that an atmosphere of integrity and trust can be built.
So go ahead, commit to something. Tell yourself, “I’ll do it or I’ll die – whichever happens first”! Don’t worry, you’ll succeed!
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