The Freedom of a Committed Life
Want to experience freedom? Try making a commitment and sticking with it. Find out more in this singles blog from the editor of Singular magazine.
One thing I’ve always loved about my singular life is the feeling of freedom — being free to follow my own voice and chart my own course without the demands or influence of another person who may have different ideas about how my life should be lived. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the concept of freedom and what it really means in regard to making commitments.
On the surface, commitment and freedom may seem like opposites — if freedom means choosing what you want to do when you want to do it — and commitment means obligation and a lack of liberty. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that commitments, rather than limiting my freedom, can actually increase and expand it.
Sound crazy? Consider this. When you make a commitment to someone or something, you’re free from having to mull over, debate, reconsider, seek outside opinions and second-guess yourself, because the commitment has been made. It’s a done deal.
For example, if I make a commitment to go back to school to get an advanced degree, I’ve obligated myself to take the actions necessary to enroll, attend class and do the homework along with all the other steps necessary to fulfill my commitment to get the degree.
Because I have that self-promise in place, I no longer have a daily debate in my head that goes something like this: “Am I wasting my time?” “Am I too old to go back to school?” “Am I missing out on a dating life because I have to study so much?” “Is this costing too much money?”
Nor do I have the need to solicit opinions from friends and family as to whether my commitment to get the degree was a good idea in the first place. Their two cents on the subject doesn’t matter — once I’ve made the commitment.
Although being commitment-less and therefore having millions of options could be considered as freedom, those endless choices to consider and re-consider create a barrage of self-doubt that’s downright exhausting! On the other hand, with each commitment I make, I’m free from all of that head chatter about “should I or shouldn’t I.” The commitment frees me from having to re-hash and re-think my choices and opens up a huge amount of mental real estate that I can now use to accomplish my goals. Think about it, how can you get anywhere if you have one foot in the boat and one foot on the shore?
The same process goes for relationships too. How many people (besides Kim Kardashian) who get married these days are thinking, in the back of their minds, that divorce is always an option if married life isn’t what they expected?
When I was mulling over the idea of marrying my now ex-husband, I can’t tell you how many people told me, “Well, if it doesn’t work out, you can always get a divorce.” Certainly, there are good reasons to get a divorce, but if you’ve truly made a commitment to someone (and marriage is one of the biggies) how can you expect to have a successful relationship if you’re constantly second guessing, finding fault and agonizing with your friends about whether or not you made the right decision?
I think many of my singular friends get a bum rap for being commitment-phobic, when, in fact, they are completely aware what a commitment really means. (When I say “singular,” I mean people who are comfortable with their single status, not desperately seeking to become un-single.) Some are committed to a profession. Some are committed to raising a child. Others are committed to completing a book, running a marathon, creating a work of art. Maybe, someday, they will even want to commit to marriage. But since they value the concept of commitment and know it requires discipline, they don’t take their commitments lightly and they don’t turn back once a commitment is made.
They know that keeping all their options open, all the time, isn’t true freedom. Freedom comes with making a decision and sticking with it — because the fewer choices you have to make, the less your mind is filled with the clutter of endless options and the freer you are to focus on the commitments that will allow you to create the life of your dreams.
Copyright © Kim Calvert/2011 Singular Communications, LLC.
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