How to make commitment work.
Earlier this week I wrote about my internal struggle with commitment in my career and the questions that nag at me (loaded with a whole lot of judgment): Why can’t I commit fully to a career path? Why do I always doubt?
I have been struggling with which career path to choose this entire year, and last year, and to a certain extent every year since high school. I worry about not choosing the right path. And – the catch 22 – I worry that no matter what I choose it will not be enough. I worry that collectively, it is impossible to do the things I am up to - law, writing, coaching, speaking - good enough, and that individually, the things I am up to are not enough. So I don’t commit fully.
I have had enough of not knowing. I want to know myself to be committed.
So Tuesday night as I was going to bed I wrote a declaration on a paper: September 17, 2014 - breakthrough in commitment to career.
Here's what came up shortly after the clock struck midnight and September 17, 2014 rolled around. (It’s funny how declarations work if you really believe in them.)
Commitment must begin within.
Unless there is an underlying commitment to something within my power, trying to commit to something outside of myself will result in attachment to outcome and my choices not being good enough.
For example, being committed to something outside of myself (a guy, a relationship, or how it appeared) did not allow my romantic relationships to work. I was attached to the outcome and constantly doubting whether I’d found the right guy or the right relationship, and whether it was the right time.
The day I found the things that I really wanted to create and experience (the big ones being love and partnership) and committed to them knowing it was in my power to create those things in my life, I no longer had doubts. The pressure to find the right guy and the perfect relationship was replaced by the freedom to choose the guy and the relationship that I would empower to create with me the things I was already committed to creating.
Once committed to something within, we need to commit to and empower something outside of ourselves.
Once I own my power and commit to creating and experiencing the things I really want, then I must choose to empower and commit to something that will enable me to create and experience those things.
Without choosing a partner I would never experience partnership, and without choosing to love someone and to allow someone to love me, I would never experience love. I commit to the person and the relationship (things outside myself) and empower them to help me create the things I really want: partnership and love.
In relationship, you have to find a kick ass person who is committed to creating and experiencing those things with you in order for it to work, but it is so much easier to find that person when you aren't putting pressure on them to figure out how to meet your wants and needs, and putting pressure on yourself to figure out how to meet their wants and needs. Instead you empower each other to create and experience the things you both are already committed to creating and experiencing in your own life.
No pressure and full commitment.
When we start by committing to something within our power, our external commitments are enough.
I was not fulfilled in any area of my life until I started owning my power to create and experience what I need and want.
In my relationships I could not choose to commit to someone or empower them to meet my needs and wants, because I did not feel like I had the power in me to meet my own needs and wants in the first place. I was looking for them to save me, but didn't want to admit I needed saving, so I never let them in. I was also holding the other person as unable to meet their own needs. I was terrified of what I saw as a huge responsibility that came with being in relationship - figuring out how to make the other person happy and give them what they needed to fill a void in their life.
I didn't have the awareness at the time, but I can see now that as I started owning my own power to get my underlying needs and wants met, it became less and less scary to think about being in a relationship. The more I became aware of what I wanted, and held myself as powerful enough to create and experience it, the more I was able to empower someone else to help me create and experience what I wanted.
Only when I was enough, did it become possible for someone else to be enough. By owning our power we fill the void.
So what does this all mean for my career?
I can see that I've been trying to commit myself to a career path – a thing outside of myself – instead of first committing to what I really want to create and experience in career. I had not identified what I really wanted or owned it as within my power to create and experience. The result: I have been attached to how my career goes, I doubt whether I have chosen the right path, and, ultimately, no path is good enough to fill the void.
So early Wednesday morning as this awareness was building in my mind, I took a look a little deeper within.
What do I really want to to create and experience in my career?
It was so obvious. I want to make a difference. I want to make a difference in the lives of individual people in my life. I want to make a different in my profession. I want to make a difference in the world. I want to make a contribution.
For the first time the chattering voices doubting my choices were silenced. It is so easy to commit to contribution. No doubt in my mind it is the thing I want in my career. And I know that contribution is something that is within my power to create and experience.
Of course, in order to create and experience what I want, I still have to choose something external to commit to and empower, but the choice is a now a freedom, not a burden. I have the freedom to choose to commit to law or coaching or writing or speaking, or all of them, or something else completely. No matter what I choose, as long as I empower it to create and experience what I really want (to make a contribution) it will be enough. The path will be right because I empower it to be so.
And now for the choice.
In service of my commitment to contribution, I choose to commit to all that I am up to - writing and law and speaking and coaching. I choose to empower all of these things to create and experience contribution in my life.
Those words would not have fallen out of my mouth (hands) wholeheartedly a week ago. There were too many doubts.
Now I know it is enough and that I've made the right choice, simply because I say so. It is within my power to make a difference. I do not need to find the "perfect" career path in order to do so. In fact, it is only in my moments of hesitation and doubt, when I am trying to find and choose the perfect path, that I cannot create or experience myself as making a contribution. And that is because, in those moments, I give away my power to make a contribution to some external "perfect" choice.
So with all of that (if you haven't yet been bored by my winding thought process and somewhat philosophical nature of this post)...
Here's my advice:
1. Look within and commit. Determine what you really want in each area of your life, own that it is within your power to create and experience, and commit to doing just that.
2. Look outside yourself and choose. Let your internal commitment guide you in choosing something which will allow you to create and experience the thing(s) you really want.
3. Commit to and empower your choice. By committing to your choice you allow it to be enough, and by empowering it you can create and experience the thing(s) you really want.
4. Repeat. Wake up every day and do it again.
We each have the power to create for ourselves the things we need and want in life. We must own this power, and commit to fulfilling our underlying wants and needs in each area of our lives, before we can commit to anything outside of ourselves in that area. Only then does commitment become liberating instead of burdensome. Only then are our choices enough. And only then are we able to empower something outside of ourselves and therefore create and experience what we really want.
I'm not saying I will now and forevermore be committed without doubt. There will likely be moments when I give away my power. I may sometimes forget to check in with my underlying commitments. Old doubts may from time to time creep in. Integrity is not an all or nothing game. And yet I can't un-know any of this. This awareness is a gift. My task is not to be perfectly committed all the time. It is simply to strengthen this new muscle. To own my power and step into my commitments a little more each day. And to step back into integrity with my commitments whenever I slip out.
What you are committed to creating in your career? Do you have your own philosophy around commitment? I would love to know! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
AND...just in case you have any lingering doubt, I am 100% committed to creating a life that I LOVE, and its totally within my power to do just that.
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