Commitment.

How committed would you say you are to things that matter to you? What if I asked how committed you are to things that don’t matter to you, but you are responsible for? Is there even a standard scale to measure commitment? I tried looking one up on Google, but Google just assumed I was searching quizzes about commitment pertaining to relationships. …Not much of a help, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise.

I started pondering the whole idea of commitment during my regular Wednesday ballroom practice last week. There are 7 couples dancing on the bronze team for UNL, which means there are 14 dancers that have supposedly committed themselves to showing up to class every Wednesday evening from 8:30PM- 10:30PM. In my mind, joining the ballroom team, means that regardless of your homework, upcoming exams, minor aches and pains, and whatever else you deem as a priority or hardship, you make sure that your ass and your ballroom shoes are in the studio, practicing for 2 hours, once a week. Now of course, there’s the exceptions. A family member is sick, you are sick, you are out of town, etc. But for the most part you show up on time and focus on dance practice, you get my gist, right?

Well, last week, the week before midterms, only 7 bronze members showed up. Now, I am sure many had acceptable excuses. However, I overheard one member explain to our dance instructor that one fellow dancer (let’s just call her Kelly) could not attend tonight’s practice because she, “had a 5AM flight out of Omaha the next morning” and added, “I think that’s a very reasonable excuse not to be here tonight” followed by hesitated laughter. As the dance instructor agreed and joined in on the small chuckles, I thought to myself, “Actually, in my opinion, that’s not a reasonable excuse to miss a practice that you have been regularly attending for months.” This notion lead me to conclude that everyone has a different definition of commitment.

If you were in the same situation as Kelly, what would you do?

Your answer is probably affected by how you define commitment. After some thought, I have come up with three different types of commitment that I have observed over the 21 years I have lived my life.

  1. The Convenient and Comfortable Commitment:
    Now, I’d like to clarify, I am not harboring any hard feelings toward Kelly (I actually think Kelly is lovely), and that realistically speaking, I get why she chose sleep/preparing for her trip over dancing. However, this decision, in my opinion, is an example of The Convenient and Comfortable Commitment. The Convenient and Comfortable Thinkers are people that are willing to take on a responsibility, as long as it doesn’t disrupt their daily lifestyle. These thinkers typically understand the definition of a balanced lifestyle. They know what they can handle and have a clear idea of how they want their life to work. Essentially, people with this type of commitment are great at maintaining obligations along with leisure, however when a challenge presents itself, they find solution in dropping the commitment all together. They place preference on convenience and comfort, rather than struggling through a tight schedule or conflict. In relating this type of commitment to the dance practice example, Kelly most likely weighed the pros and cons of attending dance practice with a 5AM flight the next day, and concluded that the cons outweighed the pros. So, while Kelly is on time each week to practice, she found it more convenient for her to be fully rested and prepared for her flight the next morning, despite having to miss a night of dance practice.
  1. The Me Before You Commitment:
    People with The Me Before You Commitment, believe that while dedication is important, they should not have to devote themselves to something that won’t benefit themselves. The good part of this style of thinking is that it prevents the people with this mindset from getting used. The Me Before You Thinkers evaluate potential responsibilities, and if they believe it’s not worthwhile, they simply won’t do it. This is the type of commitment I wish I had more of sometimes. Furthermore, if they are already committed to something, and do not see the project reaching fruition anytime soon, they may give up and leave because well heck, I am not going to get anything out of this, so why put my time into something that I don’t see working out. However, this mindset also hinders one from pushing themselves outside of their comfort zone, curbing individual growth. All thoughts are mere perceptions, so while one may believe that meeting up for the third time in one week is unproductive, another may see that meeting as a chance to collaborate and get each group member on the same page. Neither thought is necessarily right or wrong, but making a decision to be committed or not, without at least trying to understand others’ perspectives prevents potential success, not only for you as an individual, but for others around you.
  1. The Just Do It Commitment:
    This is the type of commitment where the person, as long as they have two legs and are breathing, are at the place they said they would be, at the time specified, doing what they promised they’d do. It doesn’t matter if they have a headache, or have a flat tire, or that there are other priorities piling up on their shoulders, they just do it. These are the people that show up 30 minutes early to meetings because they want to give themselves plenty of time to battle anything that comes in the way of them and that darn meeting, such as a random car crash on the road, a train that’s moving too slow for everyone’s liking and halting traffic, or maybe it’s a goose and her goslings waddling across the road. WHO KNOWS?! Anything could happen! However, with this level of intense dedication, these people also make sacrifices, such as having no down time and always contemplating how to make their obligations better. This means that while they may have the attitude of no matter what, this shit is getting done, they also may lose their sense of having a balanced lifestyle. In addition, The Just Do It Thinkers may experience burn out, which is when they have been go, go, go…and then all of a sudden they hit a wall. Basically, they overworked themselves and then must deal with not having enough energy to complete any of their priorities at all.

I’d like to conclude by saying that usually, a person’s type of commitment depends on the situation at hand, perhaps even the day! For instance, me, while I would categorize myself as the Just Do It Thinker, I most definitely have made decisions with the mindset of the other two plenty of times as well. I also do not believe that there is one version of commitment that is better, or one that will lead to achievement more than another. Ultimately, success comes down to which activities we choose to dedicate our time to, and how we commit to those activities, while maintaining a balanced lifestyle (I don’t have an answer for how to do that at the moment, maybe in my next blog post!).

Until next time,
Heather Mei

Image taken from: http://www.markette.com/portfolio-view/

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