The Commitment Equation

By johannatime On March 28, 2013 Under Quality of Life and Work

A few weeks ago, in a post about discipline, I came up with this equation:

Discipline + Purpose = Commitment

  • Where discipline is setting yourself some rules, trusting your rules and complying to them,
  • Purpose is knowing where you’re heading at, and why, and feeling that heading there is inevitable,
  • And commitment is adding the action to the dream, or adding meaning to your rules.

If the commitment is right, all lighs are green and you can go ahead. Yet sometimes, it still doesn’t happen. Let’s investigate:

I’m basically talking about commitment to yourself in the above equation, as this is the purest form of commitment. It takes little effort to do the things you are truly committed to, and you are confident to allocate plenty of time to those activities, without a nagging thought that you are wasting the hours. Commitment is the magical ingredient to make things happen. And very often, you’re in desparate need for it.

Good news is that commitment can be created, too. If it is not there naturally, you can help your brain find a linking pin between your purpose and the task that’s on your plate. This way, you create an intrinsic dimension to the task. You add purpose, so you gain commitment. On the other hand, doing something you don’t like, is your choice. The other option is not doing it. You decide how much that is worth.

Some people are breaking commitments with themselves sometimes. You may know the feeling when you show up at an appointment and the other person does not? You feel cheated on. You feel disrespected and let down. Well that’s how you feel when you are unable to keep a commitment to yourself, too: you passed an amber light.

So in order to keep commitments with yourself,

  • They need to align with your values, at least partly
  • They need to be realistic, in fact, committing to something irrealistic you are already cheating on yourself
  • You need to create clarity and explicity about the commitment, why do you embrace this one and not any commitment?

It may get even more complicated when you are committed to others, like your boss, your parents, your children, friends, or co-workers. Chances you take action for them, now is the product of

the value of your relationship with this person  X  your commitment to do the job (and if it aligns with your purpose)

In other words: if this person is very important to you, you’d pretty much do anything for them. Though things may become challenging when:

  • There may be an asymmetrical commitment; the other is not as committed as you are in the relationship
  • There may be an extrinsic motivation for you to commit to the other, either because of an informal social structure, or because you’re dependent on them
  • You are truly committed to the other person, but their values are conflicting with your purpose

If all lights are green, there will be no sense of resistance and you go ahead. Should be fine. But if any is amber (‘should I stop or race through?’), consider the above and find out what causes the obstacle. And please share in the comments below!

  • […] are not committed to doing them, maybe you took them on to please someone else, or you think others think you should […]

  • […] busy! But any worthwhile routine can be integrated into your daily schedule with good preparation, commitment, and […]

  • […] setting yourself up for overwhelm and stress. Being productive is about getting the tasks done you committed yourself to. Let’s dive […]

  • -->

    5 Trackbacks

    1. Create momentum like a boss | Time Mine
      September 8, 2013 10:08 AM
    2. Someday, maybe? | Time Mine
      October 1, 2013 1:13 PM
    3. The wonderful experience of flow and how to get more of it | Time Mine
      October 28, 2013 11:42 AM
    4. The benefits of doing nothing at all | Time Mine
      January 1, 2014 8:39 PM
    5. Undercommit and overdeliver | Time Mine
      November 22, 2014 9:21 AM


    2 Comments Add yours

    1. Marcel
      March 28, 2013
      11:15 pm #comment-1

      Really like the equation ! Here on SXM we are dependent on my wife’s income. It is hard to stay committed to my own goals while keeping my focus on what I can do to support her reaching her purpose. I have to really change my focus first on to my purpose before I get things moving and done. It is good to realize that part of me staying attractive to her is actually achieving my purpose while supporting her. Remember that a partner does not want to be blamed that they are the reason you did not reach your purpose. This really helps me focus on my focus and stay committed.

      • johannatime
        April 1, 2013
        2:27 pm #comment-2

        Dear Marcel, thank you for your comment, and that’s an interesting angle to look at the equation, too! Search both your future visions for as much shared interest as you can, so this purpose quest between the two of you is not a trade off but an exponential win/win. Good luck and keep me posted 😉

    Add a comment

    • Avatars are handled by Gravatar
    • Comments are being moderated