Actions as commitments

Posted in: Applying Wisdom

I attended my cousin’s wedding this weekend in Annapolis and the officiant made the point that while marriage is a noun, in practice it is a verb. “Marriaging” is a more accurate way to discuss the commitment my cousin and his wife were making. It is a lifelong action.

This may seem obvious in the context of marriage but it’s true in many domains. Commitments require action to be true commitments. Someone who is committed to fitness but is a couch potato can say he that he wants to get abs all he wants but he is only fooling himself.

The converse is also true. The actions you take on a regular basis become commitments. You spend enough time at a job you don’t like and not doing anything to change it, you are actually committing to being a self-loathing employee.

So it’s helpful and necessary to audit your commitments periodically in both directions:

  • What commitments have I made and how often am I supporting those commitments with action?
  • What actions do I take on a regular basis that reveal my true commitments?

You’ll probably surprise yourself.

I wrote not too long ago that I was seriously questioning whether I wanted to be in the government contracting business. I was frustrated with the nonsense bureaucracy and also indicated I had some moral qualms about the military/intelligence side of this world.

BUT, since then I haven’t made any moves to get out of it. In fact I’m hiring someone to my company to expand the work we’re doing. And I get a rush out of growing the company a bit and making more money.

So what are my actions telling me?

They’re saying I made a commitment to growing a business despite my misgivings about this type of work. They’re saying that in fact, my feelings at the time were driven more by a temporary frustration than any sort of deep values that were being violated.

It’s an uncomfortable piece of evidence, but it’s important to reveal it in order to ensure I can steer my life in a direction more aligned with the commitments I want to make.

What do your actions reveal about YOUR commitments?