If you have been following the 7 Day Challenge, you might well now have reached the point where you have identified an issue, tested your resistance, looked at possible solutions and looked at your thinking around this and tried to beat your demons. Today, I am asking you to commit to changing that issue before tomorrow, I will look at taking definitive action.
Webster’s Dictionary definition of Commitment is “a pledge to do something; the state of being bound emotionally or intellectually to an ideal or course of action.” This, for many people is where life gets scary, it is the road less traveled and commitment to a plan of action might well be the end of years of telling themselves a lie or engaging in avoidance. It might mean the end of all we see as “order”, the known as we anticipate the “unknown” or chaos that this sometimes brings. We fool ourselves that the “known” is really order, when in fact we have got used to the chaos and justified it by calling it familiar and our “order”. Some of us will believe that this is as good as it gets, some of us will believe we don’t deserve any better and some love the attention that the situation they find themselves in brings.
In reality, when we tell ourselves we cannot do something, it usually means we won’t or we don’t want to do something, for whatever reason. It could be fear, laziness or lack of motivation. There might be no consequences to our lack of commitment so we don’t see the need. Often, as humans, we only commit when circumstance takes a hand and we have to as a reactive measure. The worst possible scenario, where our influence is at its lowest. In my experience, lack of commitment is often tied to a lack of self-discipline generally. Self-discipline is a vital resource in our ability to get things done, commit to change and fight procrastination.
Many of us procrastinate to the point that it takes a lot of energy to keep it going. Energy that could be used more productively. Many of us fail to take responsibility for things we have done, finding it easy to avoid issues by blaming others or circumstances “beyond our control”. Many of us do not take the time to analyse an issue, preferring to avoid the pain that is associated with it. Many of us are looking for instant gratification, hoping that things will change or something will come along and take the pain away. It happens to everybody at some stage in their lives purely because it makes us feel “good” in the moment. It happens in all aspects of our lives…. relationships… where we avoid painful decisions hoping things might improve…. work…. where we procrastinate that difficult task…. avoid talking with our boss…. or raising an issue with a colleague or client. We also do it as individuals. Not taking responsibility for what we can influence and not making definite choices about ourselves. We would rather moan and complain and put our destiny in the hands of others. When we avoid our own responsibility, we are really saying to others… “you need to tell me what to do… to look after me”, Erich Fromm stated quite rightly in his book on Nazism that we spend our lives “escaping from freedom”. The freedom that personal responsibility brings.
Of course, we are not always taught how to work with such concepts described above. Not many parents have the time to give their children the security they need to take responsibility for themselves and all that means. Many parents are overwhelmed and put across the very concepts that foster the above. No parent is perfect but we all need to look at how we deal with our children on a daily basis, the way we talk to them, treat them, set boundaries for them and positively discipline them. Parents who fight in front of their children, dismiss and neglect wishes, use punitive punishment or threaten will achieve only the situation that children take it on themselves as something “wrong” with them. This in no way prepares them for a functional adult existence.
What we need is self-discipline, to take responsibility and to face problems head-on and not delay the pain that goes along with it. These concepts are learnt early in our lives. In fact, many say they are inherent in us but are gone by the time we reach teenage years due to the environment we grow up in. Discipline will beat procrastination. It will teach us to take responsibility for the things we can influence and it will teach us that delaying the pain and replacing it with something “nice” or “pleasurable” is only pushing things further down the line to a point where we will need to face it due to circumstance and not choice.
Choice is the key word here. All of the dysfunctional concepts described above are done by choice and we can make different choices. Choose to take responsibility, face that difficult task, solve the question of staying or going and choose to deal with conflict efficiently. Choice is about discipline and doing nothing is also a choice. Life is purely a set of problems to face, endure and ultimately solve. Once we choose to solve them, life can be much better.