Quitting Our Commitments
Many of us stay in relationships for too long, jobs that make us miserable, or pridefully sustain habits for the sake of not being a ‘quitter’. We are all part of things at one point or another that cause tension in our lives. So why do we choose to muddle forward? What stops us from quitting our commitments ?
Perhaps it is because we understand that sticking with our choices helps build resilience. As we endure through hardship, we can develop the tolerance to believe. And when we believe in our capacities as a human to grow, we develop the confidence to surrender to the process of living life intentionally; thereby accessing our un-tapped potentials.
Intentional living means making sacrifices to continue to progress. But what if the path you have chosen is one that instead of liberating you, binds you. Personally, my greatest vice is transmuting all my energy towards life choices. As I deem things as valuable (worth my time resource) I put all my eggs into those things, sacrificing a great amount of what I may have incrementally established in the first place.
It’s clear there comes a point where commitments become rotten. Yet we endure in fear that this is merely a point of contention, a moment to show our stuff and concur another obstacle.
As we stumble down our life paths, the odds of taking the wrong turns are high. So what do we do when our choices are straying us in direct opposition to our life goals?
It may be time to quit.
As I wrote briefly about when I was discussing when to stop reading a book, quitting ahead of time can be exactly the thing we may need to do to improve our ability to stick to the things that help up become our greatest selves.
Our goals should never be to endure every challenge we choose to accept to the end. We need to learn to sort through our commitments to make sure we can discern when we may be over-committing ourselves to the wrong things.
When we are questioning if it is time to quit, we need to ask ourselves if we have engaged with the task long enough. But what really is long enough? With such an abstract cut off we cannot learn to stick to our commitments. We leave room to alter our definition of ‘long enough’ whenever it is convenient.
Starting today we need to set guidelines for our commitments. Understanding that the nature of our lives is change, we can respect that what we deem as valuable is ever changing too. Therefore, as we move forward in our lives we no longer become overstrung by past commitments because when we accept said change we are constantly asking ourselves: Is this still what I aim at becoming? And if so, is this still the effective way to do so?
Instead of retrospectively choosing to part ways with our commitments, we can set quitting points ahead of time. When we set points ahead of time this gives us a definite control over our lives. Who wants to stay in a position forever that makes them miserable? But how about a 3-month test period? Or even 30 days?
Setting Test Lengths
Anytime I am starting a new project I run it through a 30-day challenge. 30 days is sufficient enough time to give a commitment a chance at influencing my life. Such trials are a great way to find what you’re interested in without running yourself into a roadblock.
For example, I once wanted to start coding for the website. So I put myself through 30 days of coding practice for two hours a day. Now normally, such a schedule would be grueling and cause me to give up the idea of learning web development in its entirety. But I had a measurable unit of time to test my resilience and most importantly I had time to re-evaluate my commitments.
Setting Re-evaluation Points
Okay fine, that may work for new commitments, but what about the ones I have already started and do not plan to stop?
As someone who avidly reads, meditates, and exercises each day I know the merits of long-term habits. But it isn’t fruitful to just continue a commitment for the sake of just going through the motions. As we become complacent we lose the benefits of the activities. To prevent this, we can set points throughout our progress that we re-evaluate our commitment.
To use my meditation practice as an example, over a period of three-years my meditation has fluctuated from an hour long to 15 minutes sessions. Each month I am re-asking myself how were my sessions. Was I rushing them? Was I concentrated to the level I need to be? Did I fall asleep a lot? These questions and more provide me with information for the up and coming month as to what I need to focus on to continue to move forward in my practice.
Think about a part of your life that you use as a measure of your own identity. Now constantly ask yourself if you are living up to the expectations of that commitment. Over time you will see that taking great care of said commitment will reflect deeply on your own progress in becoming a part of that identity.
It is my firm brief that we have a finite amount of attention that we can distribute across the commitments of our life. From that, it is only logical that as we put more into one thing or another, we strip ourselves of the ability to engage fully with other things. The question then becomes are we pulling energy away from things we find merit in? I'm sure of it.
I recently had the opportunity to experience this myself.
I took on the challenge of entering a new career field and subsequently began to do what I do best; give it my all. Though as I put my time and attention into the position, my life slowly began to crumble around me. I stopped writing for the site, I ran minimally, meditated aimlessly, and even communicated with my friends and family sparingly. Something had to give, and it just so happen that it wouldn’t be the new thing I just attempted to incorporate into my life, it was all that I had incrementally worked for over the past 4 years.
I would have no more of it.
I set a point for evaluation and worked up until that fateful moment when I decided to leave. Now am slowly but surely recreating the life that I know is guiding me towards a life as my greatest self. In hindsight, my greatest lesson is to request information about time commitment sooner. I have come to an understanding that great sacrifices ought to be made to venture into a rigorous field, and when that career does not align with my life virtues, It must be eliminated.
Finding Quitting Points That Have Promising Results
‘‘The best way to predict our feelings tomorrow is to see how others are feeling today”
Daniel Gilbert, Stumbling on Happiness
In Stumbling on Happiness, Gilbert goes on to state our capabilities for foresight are…well poor to say the least.
We have poor insight when we are making presumptions about the happiness of ourselves in a given circumstance. As a precautionary measure, Gilbert has stumbled upon some great advice that I have only begun to recognize its merits and would like to close by sharing with you. He states:
“If you believe that people can generally say how they are feeling at the moment they are asked, then one way to make predictions about our own emotional futures us to find someone who is having the experience we are contemplating and ask them how they feel.
Instead of remembering our past experience in order to simulate our future experience, perhaps we should simply ask other people to introspect on their inner states, perhaps we should give up on remembering and imagining entirely and use other people as surrogates for our future selves”
What better person to ask than the one who is subjectively experiencing what we hope to experience? From now on, instead of trusting the tools of foresight that Dr. Gilbert has gone to great lengths to show have bias outlooks. It is in our best interest to look towards people with experience in the state of mind that we aim for. This is surrogation at its finest.
We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. From now on when I commit to something I look for people who have done the same. Now I potentially have a collection of people who have been through the same situation.
So not only does this settle any anxiety I may have about what a commitment may mean for the remainder of my life obligations, it gives me information about where to go after that seemingly tragic event occurs.
Commitment Takes Integration
What I’ve learned is dead ends are only so when you cannot integrate what has been of great value with whatever you are currently attempting to grasp. All that we purposefully engage with must continually align with that of what is to come. It is such clarity that will charge our mental volitions, and ultimately further our journey towards discovering commitments that when engaged with for the long term, change our lives for the better.
My Motto: Today is the best day of my life
I treat every day as the best day of my life because no matter the praise, disappointment, obstacles, or success I know that I am doing everything that is in my control to live to the standards of my greatest self.
How? It all starts with my 5 habits. Find out more here.