Are you committed or just thinking about it?

Commitment can be hard. Being non-committal is the reason so many people fail. How might you do more than just think about it?

A non-earth shattering confession.

In my five decades I’ve never roller skated.

My young daughter started skating this year. It’s been a good lockdown exercise. For months I’ve been contemplating joining her. Of course overcoming the inertia is hard, there’s fear too. A fear of looking ridiculous, of failure, of other people’s opinions, etc. Of course kids don’t seem to have those fears, they just commit. I needed help to commit. So I told my daughter my idea. She was enthusiastic, but still not enough to overcome my inertia. So I told a few friends. I asked one to teach me. That made it harder to back out. I bought skates and pads, committal adjacent. I now type, my legs aching, thumb swollen from a sprain and committed to learning to skate.

The thing is commitment is hard. It’s easier to avoid commitment. By not committing we can hide. Hide from failure or our fears. If we hide from failure we also hide from success.

I’m a serial starter of projects, hobbies and courses. Some fell by the wayside, some I finished. I used to say I got bored easily, I’ve since realised that by taking on a number of projects I was hiding. Hiding to avoid the challenging work when it got hard. I had an excuse when, with my many “commitments”, I wasn’t able to do something properly. The reality was that I had avoided commitment. I was hiding in the busy with many things – it meant I couldn’t fail (I was just slow) but also that I was unlikely to succeed.

Unmeasured is a better example of my commitment. Unmeasured, whilst not called that, existed various iterations for two to three years. What slowly dawned on me was that it wasn’t working. It wasn’t working because I hadn’t made the time to build the skills and the space to run the experiments that I needed to design it iteratively. Until I fully committed it was only ever going to be a plodding side hustle. So I committed full time. It was scary, and the only way I was going to determine if it would work.

Committing to big things is hard and it’s also a choice. If you choose to commit, it’s possible to make it more manageable and less scary. If quitting your job to build your side hustle, for example, feels like too big a commitment at the start, how might you break it down into smaller steps? Commit to 1-3 days for the side hustle and cutting your job to a 4 day working week. You can transition slowly and I think you could then identify the next steps. The trick is to commit to the first step, with an idea of what the goal and bigger commitment looks like.

You need to commit before you’re ready (Spoiler alert: you’re never ready). Many people only commit once they think they have a reasonable chance of success. Success can never be guaranteed so you might as well just commit to starting. What does success look like to you? You can focus on breaking this success down. What if instead of considering success as the end point, you consider it in steps. Success looks like starting. Success is one weekday fully focussed on the side hustle for 3 months. Success is to keep going.

On the basis that your first success comes with starting, here’s some ways you can commit.

  • pay for the course, the subscription, the software you need, etc
  • tell a friend your commitment and ask for support
  • make it public so it feels harder to back down
  • find an organisation to support you, it might be through a course, a Meetup, or similar
  • get a teacher, mentor or coach for assistance and support
  • block out the time

In most cases here, you’re also building in accountability. So a good question to ask is, How might I be held accountable?

As with anything, the key is to start. Then keep going.

I’m cheering for you.

Photo by Enric Cruz López on Pexels [cropped and edited]

When you stand at the edge of a skate bowl you have to fully commit, or it’s likely you’ll come off.

Hi! I’m Michael

I’m an architect and coach. I help architects rethink their practice and support them as they uncover better ways to work. I’ve worked in architecture for over 25 years, and I ran my own practice for 14 years. I understand architectural practice from the inside out. Fun Fact: my NSW architect’s registration is #10 007 and I have a license to skill.

I believe improving practice takes asking hard questions and deep listening.

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