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Commitment Phobia

commitment phobiaSince Starbucks and I broke up, I’ve been trying out my local Panera. The coffee isn’t nearly as satisfying (or as caffeinated), but the food is waaaaay better. But Panera has provided so many fun observations – today, I’m sitting near a woman snapping (ok, yelling) at someone on the phone over the location of, wait for it… football tickets. She is demanding an aisle seat in the stadium and is worried that she will be stuck with awful seats for another year and have to beg, borrow and steal to get new ones next year. Whoa. Talk about “first world problems” yo.

She’s upset because her last set of tickets weren’t up to her level of satisfaction, so she’s nervous about committing to anything now. (I asked her). Which resonated with me, in a way that grappling over football tickets would never compute.

Committing is scary.

I’m sure I’ve alluded to my commitment issues before, but let me restate it – I can’t commit to anything. It’s not about people or relationships or long-term. Nope, it’s about picking something and going with it. I hate committing – it locks me in to something and then it seems like I can’t change directions later on.

Stupid really. Especially when it comes to everyday life things – a date to meet up with friends, the restaurant to meet at, a vacation location, my brand colors, and so on.

So it’s ironic that I have about five BIG commitments I need to make in the next… week (or sooner!). I didn’t plan this well, clearly it wasn’t intentional. But I need to commit to: my moving date; a moving company; a storage facility; a car (buy my current one, get a new one before lease it up); what to bring, store, or donate; and finding a place to come back to. That’s the condensed version people! Can you imagine my angst over this?

And then I thought back to my career and how difficult it was to pick a quite date; or a stop hating my job date; searching for a new job; accepting a job offer; or signing a short-term contract.

Being unhappy, or staying in the status quo at work is easy… committing to a different option is hard.

But to move forward, we have to commit to something. But we can commit in increments – instead of “forever” decisions. Which is pretty much how I get through daily life. I commit to small things that provide me with the flexibility to change my mind, or change directions on a dime.

These small increments can be applied to big items, like a home: I rent instead of buying – it’s not a money thing, it’s a commitment thing… and it has saved me some serious money with the housing market situation.

For my quit my corporate job date, I set a date that I will have the decision by – steering clear of the actual decision. I picked a date about one month away, so I could hem and haw over every decision. Surprisingly, I had settled my date well before the 30 day deadline – the pressure was off and I was able to make a choice, instead of a commitment.

Small steps can work, but only if you commit to tracking towards progress and not delaying the inevitable, or avoid making a decision altogether.

And with that, I make this commitment to you – I commit to have my above six decisions decided by the end of this week (March 22).

What do you do to help you commit to decisions? I’m putting together a tool and would love to include your best practices – let me know in the comments below or send me an email.

2 comments

Sam L. - March 18, 2013 Reply

I thought I was the only one with commitment issues! I find myself straddling the middle of the road because I want the best of both worlds, and I’m not ready to decide one way or another. But instead of getting to enjoy both worlds I just get bogged down and depressed that I’m not feeling fulfilled by either scenario. Thanks for the post that let’s me know I am not alone!

melissalywc - March 18, 2013 Reply

Hi @56a9cf5bff6f55478e096bb77f7b989f:disqus – You are SO not alone! It’s soooo scary to think of “making a bad decision,” or in my case, “committing to the wrong thing.” I’ve learned (and continue to remind myself daily… ok, momentarily at times), that there aren’t bad decisions or “roads.” Everything can be redone, rewritten, reverted, or renewed. Hang in there – and keep at it!

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