Sunday, February 1, 2009

On The Nature Of Commitments

I've been pondering commitments lately. I haven't had an epiphany, but I thought I might ramble about them a bit and see if anything interesting falls out.

My thinking about commitments is caused by the fact that I find myself shedding them right and left since I went back to work. There aren't enough hours in any given day to let me do now what I did when I wasn't working. Of course, I didn't manage to keep all my commitments then, either. I did better, though.

Commitments seem to come in a few forms, for me at least. This list may not be exhaustive, but it includes:
  • Unbreakable commitments made to others. These are rare: wedding vows, deathbed promises and the like. And clearly what is unbreakable for some isn't inviolate for others.
  • 'Breakable' commitments made to others. These are more common. We make them all the time in work and personal life.
  • Commitments made to oneself. I chose not to split this into two categories out of personal experience. For me, at least, commitments to myself are pretty slippery. if I tell someone else about them, though, they become much harder to break than if I keep them inside.
As my available time has dropped and my workload has increased, I find that the nature of the commitments I make (and keep) is changing. More and more are related to the office, while those that were made before I went back to work are being set aside.

That's perfectly normal and understandable, of course, but it still frustrates me. Planning on doing something and then not doing it is not my style. Particularly if I told someone else I'd do it. It happens to us all, of course. We all bite off more than we can chew at times, but it feels like a weakness in me that should be overcome, if only I could figure out how.

I suspect I'll be in this state for quite a while. As I recall, when I quit working nearly four years ago, one of the hardest things about doing so was all the commitments I'd made to my coworkers at the office. Letting those go was not a simple task, and now I am setting myself up for that again someday.

But for now I suffer the opposite, sort of. I'm having to let go of the commitments I made when I wasn't working. There's less time for the fire department and friends. There's less time for me, to do things like go to the gym. There's less time to walk the dogs, even.

Still, it has to be done, and it was a choice. My choice.

Something tells me I need to go think about something else for a while.


  1. Jeff, at least when you have to break a commitment you seem to be taking responsibility for having to break it instead of blaming someone else which happens all too often and ruins friendships and the like.

  2. Thanks, Lorri. I do my best to be up front about these things.

    I wish life was simpler, though. A lot simpler.


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