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What is commitment?

What is a commitment? A commitment is an agreement that is (1) a fact demonstrated by observable and measurable behavior and (2) an attitude that reflects a consistency and alignment in thought and belief.

For example, a committed relationship is one wherein one’s behavior demonstrates commitment in an operational and observable way and one wherein one’s thoughts and beliefs about the relationship are consistent, and in alignment with, the notion of that commitment.

If one says one is in a committed relationship but never has time for one’s partner, that is not commitment.

If one spends 95% of one’s time with one’s partner but is consistently wishing or wanting to be elsewhere, not sure if the relationship is the right one, or fantasizing being with another person or persons, that is not commitment.

And harmony?

What is harmony? Harmony is a state in which there is congruence among what one says, feels, thinks and does. When one or more of these four elements is not in alignment with the others, one will not experience harmony; rather, one will experience a feeling of imbalance that results in little true and real joy, happiness, meaning or purposefulness. In a state of imbalance, one is moving drone-like though life at work, at home, at play and in relationship.

When we’re committed, we show we care deeply and are engaged – yes, even at work.

Elements of healthy commitment

For commitment to be conscious and healthy, four elements are necessary: (1) be clear about who you are, what you want in life and know how to get what you want; (2) have a clear set of well-defined goals for your life (at work, at home, at play and in relationship) which are in alignment with who you are, and your core values; (3) conscious preparation for the commitment – have the physical, mental, emotional, intellectual, social, psychological and communication skills that will support your choice to commit; and (4) actually committing – making the conscious choice to commit, engage and participate.

Happiness and commitment

The path to true and real happiness is paved with commitment. No commitment, no happiness. Perhaps a faux happiness, the appearance or illusion of happiness, but not the real thing – a phony and fake happiness that is ever ephemeral and fleeting. Always looking for more and for “the next best thing,” or person.

Consider those who consistently say they are unhappy at work, at home, at play and in relationship. What’s most often lacking is commitment. How so?

Commitment and deeper values

Most probably because they have never truly sat down and reflected on their deeper, core life requirements or the core values underneath such requirements. More likely, what they have done (beginning in childhood and moving through adolescence and into early adulthood) is come up with a list of work-life-play requirements based on someone else’s beliefs of what’s right, necessary, good or important and as a result became indoctrinated along the way with other folks’ beliefs about what’s important – parents, extended family members, media, Reality TV, politicians, corporations, friends, salespeople, competitors, teachers, clergy, academics, bosses, military leaders, and the like. But, sadly and unfortunately, they never took the time and energy to consciously explore inside and ask themselves what they really, really want – an exploration that comes from their deeper, heart-felt, soul-driven place.  Rather, they followed lock-step, or blindly, someone else’s vision or goal. It’s no wonder they cannot experience commitment.

What illusionary commitment looks like

One way to identify those who’ve never taken the time to deeply and consciously explore work-life-play-relationship commitment in a truly meaningful and purposeful way is to observe how they are characterized by (1) a lack of clarity about their life purpose, their core values or the place of spirituality in their life; (2) a consistent tendency to look outside themselves for life’s “answers; (3) a limited ability for, or tendency to, self-reflect; (4) a lack of clarity about “who I am; and (5) a low-grade-fever type of state where they experience frustration, overwhelm, agitation, unhappiness and discontent on a regular basis.

The gap

The first step to exploring commitment, in a conscious and healthy way, is to look at the discrepancy or gap that exists between commitment in fact and commitment in attitude to see what’s causing the discrepancy. HINT – the cause is never “out there.” The inquiry begins with personal responsibility, by honestly asking:

“What’s going on with me that accounts for my lack of engagement or commitment (either in fact and/or in attitude)?”
“Why don’t I have what I want?”
“Why does having what I think I want always lead me to feeling unhappy, empty, lonely and unfulfilled?”
“Why do I always feel I’m on the outside looking in?”
“Why am I always asking others what they think, feel or believe?”
“Why do I seem to sabotage myself so much?”
“Why am I so jealous and envious of others?”

Some questions for self-reflection”

  • How committed to, and engaged, are you with your activities during your day at work, at home, at play and in relationship?
  • How do you manifest commitment, dedication and passion?
  • With respect to your career, your relationships, your health, your friends, your family, your finances and your happiness, how committed are you and how indifferent are you? If you say you are committed and devoted, are you committed in fact and in attitude?  Or, are you just going through the motions, being habitual, or being half-hearted? How might others feel about the degree of your commitment and engagement?
  • Do you ever emotionally, verbally or physically bully, become overbearing, or manipulate others because you are committed against something?
  • Do you find yourself delaying, denying, deferring and procrastinating because you are not 100% committed to someone or something?
  • Do you ever doubt the value of your commitments? If so, when?
  • Are you afraid to let go of that which you are not committed? Why do you hang on?
  • Do you ever “act as if” to make believe you are committed?
  • When was the last time you took time to seriously reflect on who you are, what you want in life or why you may be feeling uncommitted to someone or some thing?
  • How do you know your values are your values and not someone else’s values you just took on as you grew up and matured?
  • Do you ever “go along to get along” when you know “deep down” that it’s bad for you? Why?
  • Do you become defensive when someone questions your life-work choices or your values?
  • Do your values and beliefs ever contradict one another?
  • Do you ever notice a conflict between your external or public voice (what you say to others) and your internal and private voice (what you believe and say to yourself quietly) while in conversation at work, at home or at play? Does this make you curious?
  • Do you feel your life reflects “harmony”?
  • How did you learn about commitment growing up?

(c) 2014, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful.
Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.

What is the one thing that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that “thing” is…maybe you don’t. You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”

I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship.

I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, or pvajda(at)
You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.