Commitment – Definition: 1) Something that takes up time or energy, especially an obligation 2) loyalty, devotion or dedication to a cause, person or relationship 3) a promise, pledge or vow.
I have this thing about commitment. I’ve always believed that if you make a commitment, you are obligated to keep it. Whether it’s a promise to a person or a job, I feel it should be kept.
I’m not sure when I became so convicted about this word, but maybe it was when I worked for Kraft Foods and learned the founder, J.L. Kraft’s motto was “What we say do, we do do.” As a loyal employee, I devoted myself to that motto and being a person of my word.
The concept of commitment was further emphasized when my son played soccer. If players on his team failed to show up for a game, the rest of the players had to play twice as hard without any rest, which was not only unfair, but hurt the entire team’s chances.
And don’t get me started on lack of commitment in marriage and family relationships. Some people avoid the “big C word” like the plague.
One practice my former employer warned us about was overcommitting and under-delivering. In other words, don’t make promises to customers you can’t keep, no matter how good your intentions are.
Sometimes in life we accidentally overcommit for various reasons. We want to please others, we want to prove we can do something, or we’re afraid to say “no.” Overachievers are usually over-committers too. They think they can do anything and everything – the Superman identity. I know about this because I am one. And because I am, I have accomplished many things.
However, the same over-commitment can lead to burn-out, fatigue or stress. The same tendency can occur in the writing world. Sometimes I’ve taken on too many projects. A writer’s job is no longer just writing. A writer is expected to participate in various forms of social media – Facebook, Twitter, blogging, and email, to name a few.
All this takes time, and if a writer has family obligations, the time allotment is even more difficult to find. Trying to do everything can take time away from the main thing, the first priority, which is to write. Some authors have found a way to handle these commitments efficiently, but for others like me, just the prospect of doing all those things makes me feel stressed. And if I’ve committed to do something and I can’t deliver, then I feel like a failure.
It takes trial and error to find one’s limits, but the reality is that we all have limits. Once we find them, we can say “no” to those things that take time away from the main thing, writing, and not risk under-delivering to anyone.