Work-life Balance — Topic: Commitment

Welcome! I’ve been working on the content for a seminar on work-life integration I’m going to be putting on in September (location and dates are still being set but if you are interested please send me an email to my email djkester.)

This post is based on some of the content from the section on commitments.
I think of commitment as the state or the circumstance of being obligated or emotionally impelled to provide something to another person or group. The obligation can come in the form of money, time, or materials. In the context of work-life balance it normally comes in the form of an obligation to complete a work item by a certain date.

My usage of commitment may differ from yours. I Invite you to ponder what commitment looks like to you. For now I’ll explain further what commitment is to me.

Commitment is my tool for structuring my time so I can accomplish my goals. Commitment, for me, rides hand In hand with being clear and honest. When I make a commitment and don’t meet it, I am letting myself down. No matter who else I make my commitment to, if I make a commitment, it is to myself that it matters. If I do not commit to myself, there really is no commitment.
Commitment is my tool to guide my decision making in each moment. The decision to commit, when followed through with, is my way of knowing what to do. Commitment provides structure so my mind can focus on what I want to get done. It allows me to filter other possibilities for action and focus on the actions that let me reach my goal.

Through making commitments to myself, I set up a course of action that will allow me to get results that will lead to achievement. For me, achievement brings great satisfaction. Satisfaction is the fuel that drives my commitment engine, because satisfaction brings joy.

Understanding this positive-feedback loop is very helpful in accomplishing my work-life balance. Without understanding how my commitments are really for me, I lose track of their value and begin to fear them. When I think of commitment as me structuring myself, I realize the power they hold for me.
Any of my fears of commitment come from the lack of discipline and control over myself when making commitments. I lose control because I fear the results if I don’t overcommit. When I’m feeling stressed and think I need to make a commitment, I remind myself that I am the only person who can commit me. If I think I’m doing it for others, I’m really abandoning myself and putting myself into situations that will result in more stress and less happiness than otherwise.

If I don’t keep control of my commitments, I’ll soon find myself committing to things that don’t match my priorities. When my commitments don’t match up to my priorities, I find myself getting angry at things, at people, and at myself. My self-esteem takes a hit, my working relationships don’t flourish, and my work-life integration goes off the path. I become anxious, and I begin to disconnect from others, distract myself from my goals, and begin to stop doing things that actually help me meet my commitments.

Letting my commitments run away and get out of my control is like bowling a gutter ball. Letting other people commit me to projects, people, and deliverables is one of the ways I have let myself down in the past. I let my fear of reprisal or termination override my personal knowing of what I knew I could accomplish. I did this for so long it just became habit. Do you have such a habit?

Allowing my commitment against my will also damages my inner trust and integrity. Without applying a negative judgment here, I can say that when I don’t follow through on my commitments, no matter how they are made, I suffer internally.

This struggle is likely one of the most difficult ones we face in the execution of our careers and the balancing of time commitments in our lives. However, the path to joy is to maintain discipline around commitments to obtain our highest degree of integrity. I can’t allow others to make my commitments. I must only commit to things I want to achieve. My commitments must be made with a belief that I can achieve them.

Once I am in control of when and to what I make my commitments, and I do so according to my priorities, two new issues quickly appear for me to resolve. The first is that commitment is a double-edged sword, and the second is that what commitments and balance are right for me doesn’t necessarily apply for everyone in my workplace or life.

Commitment is a double-edged sword. The nature of the structure commitments create for me is somewhat counter to letting my mind wander and quest. Creativity and exploration of ideas are best served by giving my mind this freedom and opportunity.

Over-commitment, even to my own desires and priorities, means I won’t have time to let my mind wander and quest. In past blog articles I’ve described this as “being time”. Without the time to just be, I don’t get the joy of out-of-the-box thinking. I don’t have the time to explore and discover for myself. I miss a major part of being human — the freedom of will to discover. If you are like me, soon you’ll start to engage in distractions to fill the gap left by a lack of being. When this happens I end up feeling anxious and, once again, distracting myself, so I try to balance my time between being focused on a commitment and just being.
Commitments will help you structure, guide, and focus on your priorities to reach your goals. Commitment is your tool. Use it to your advantage and you will have a strong tool to help you live your life, including work, family, friends, hobbies, and spiritual practice.

I hope you are doing awesome. Have a wonderful day.

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