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Commitment Is The Antidote To Suffering (At The Hands Of Indecision)

“More is lost by indecision than wrong decision. Indecision is the thief of opportunity. It will steal you blind.” — Marcus Tullius Cicero

If you’ve ever:


  1. made a plan that you didn’t stick with (like a New Years Resolution that wore off by mid-February)

  2. or avoided making a plan because there were too many choices (like not knowing where to eat so you stay home instead)


…I can relate.

In 2022, I became obsessed with Do-It-Yourself home makeover videos.

They show you the original room and then reveal how it looks after they’ve gotten their hands dirty.


I thought, “I want to do this!”

I quit my bartending job in March.

By April, I told everyone and their mother my new plan:

Invest my savings into filming a renter-friendly apartment makeover to get clients.


I knew how to film.

I knew how to edit.

I knew how to upload.


How hard could it be?


I filmed and edited my 1st makeover but didn’t post it.

The same went for my 2nd makeover.

This happened over and over again.


The footage kept piling up but when I sat down to edit, I would stare at the screen.


Everyone kept asking, “When are you going to post!?”

They were excited.

I was not.


Every day that passed, I felt more dread.


“Are people going to think I’m a big talker and don’t follow through on my word?”

“What if I don’t actually like this but I already told people my plan?”

“What if this gets in the way of what I really want in life?”

“What if I post and people think the videos are bad?”

“Should I pursue something else?”

“Is this the right decision?”

“What if I fail?”


Months went by.

Not a single video uploaded.

I got caught in a cycle of indecision.


 

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Suffering At The Hands Of Indecision


“Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit.” — Vince Lombardi

When you don’t commit, you stay in limbo.


You get caught between Decision A and Decision B.

Analysis paralysis kicks in:

  • analyze situation

  • research outcomes

  • stare at pros and cons list

  • think about Decisions C - Z

  • obsess about which routes to take

  • give up and say, “I’ll decide tomorrow.”


Tomorrow comes, you’re stressed that you haven’t made a decision, so you avoid it.

You occupy your time with tasks, errands, distractions - anything but the open loop.

Night time comes, you’re tired and say, “I’ll decide tomorrow.”

Guess what? You just broke your first promise.


You beat yourself up.

Enter the judgment, shame, and guilt.

You’ve gotten nowhere and you feel terrible.

Feeling this way makes it harder to make a decision.

This justifies your decision to avoid making a decision.


You avoid the decision for so long that it becomes a big scary monster hiding in your closet.


You reason with yourself:


“I don’t want to feel tied down.”

“I don’t want too much responsibility.”

“I don’t want to make the wrong choice.”

“I don’t want to open myself up to ridicule.”

“I don’t want to miss out on other opportunities.”


The more you reason, the more you prime your brain to find evidence that supports your new belief: making a decision and committing to it is a bad thing. Because you believe it’s a bad thing, your brain will see it as a threat. Because your brain’s job is to protect you from threats, it will accumulate evidence fast. Anytime you think of commitment, your brain will remind you of the negative evidence. This will stop you from taking action.


But you are what you do over and over again.

The less action you take, the more you strengthen your indecisive identity.

This identity weakens discipline and makes you achieve less.

When you achieve less, there’s less evidence that you’re capable of doing hard things.

The less capable you think you are, the easier it is to give up.

You lose respect for yourself and wonder why you feel full of shame, guilt, and inadequacy.

You compare yourself to others, feel disempowered, and lack motivation.


What do you think those things lead to?


More indecision.


So why would you want to deal with the big scary monster hiding in your closet?


Because avoiding it leads you further away from the life you actually want, that’s why.


 

Deal With The Monster, Or Else


“If it's standing in the way of what you want, then you should want to do it.” - Dan Koe

We live in an age of excess.

Excess choices, routes, and opinions.

If you know how to commit, excess is freedom.

If you don’t, excess puts you in indecision prison.


  • Excess choices in dating means you jump from person to person with your fingers crossed that the next one is better.

  • Excess routes in the job market means you jump from career to career instead of becoming a master at one.

  • Excess opinions means you jump from opinion to opinion without forming your own beliefs.


While these feel like freedom, they’re not.

This is the Paradox of Choice in action.

More choices = less freedom.


You already know how more choices leads to paralysis. But more choices also lead you to be less satisfied with the choice you make (than if you had less to choose from).


That’s why you think the next partner, career, or belief will be better. But every person, job, and idea comes with it’s own challenges to overcome. Overcoming those challenges, instead of running from them, is what life’s all about.


So what are you left to do?


Commit.


Commitment is the antidote to suffering at the hands of indecision.


 

Commitment Is The Antidote To Suffering At The Hands Of Indecision


“Commitment is what transforms a promise into a reality... Commitment is the stuff character is made of; the power to change the face of things. It is the daily triumph of integrity over skepticism.” — Abraham Lincoln

Even if you make the “wrong” commitment, you go further than if you make no commitment at all.


This graphic shows the difference between commitment and indecision. If you are indecisive, you get nowhere and you suffer in stagnation. If you commit, even if it's in the wrong direction, you go further than if you make no commitment at all. Commitment leads to a fulfilling life.

You go through doors you didn’t even know were there instead of being stuck in the same room.

You develop skills that prove invaluable instead of being the same person you’ve always been.

You focus your energy on one thing at a time to make progress instead of being aimless.


You respect yourself.

You feel satisfied with your efforts.

You feel proud of your accomplishments.

You find fulfillment and happiness in looking back.


Along the way, you realize:

it’s not the thing you’re after that’s important, it’s the person you become on your way to achieving the thing that is.

 

4 Steps To Take Action and Become Who You’re Meant To Be


“If you want something good, get it from yourself.” — Epictetus

Step 1: Develop Your Why Statement


Develop your why statement and make it powerful.

List out all the reasons you’re choosing to pursue this commitment.

It needs to be deeply personal. It should inspire you on days you want to give up.


Gym memberships skyrocket in January.

Losing weight is a popular resolution.

If you want to lose weight, why?


Do you want to feel more confident in your clothes?

Do you want to run around with your kids after school?

Do you want to improve your sleep, energy, vitality, and mood?

Do you want to live a long life so your loved ones don’t have to lose you?


Make it as motivating as you need. Keep this list somewhere close so that on the days you feel like giving up, it will give you an extra boost to keep going.


Step 2: Shift Your Identity


You need to identify as an individual that makes commitments.

When you do, committing is easier because it’s simply who you are.

To change your identity, you need to create evidence that you commit to things.


You do this by starting small.

Choose one action and commit to it.


Kitchen is dirty? Commit to cleaning just the sink.

Want to lose weight? Commit to going for 1 walk.

Set an alarm? Commit to getting out of bed.


As you perform the action, reinforce the new identity by talking to yourself.


“I am cleaning the kitchen sink because I follow through on my commitments.”

“I am going for a walk because I’ve committed to losing weight.”

”I am getting out of bed because I commit to my alarm.”


You can have a grandiose vision, but don’t set grandiose goals.

You won’t hit them right away and you will give up.


Step 3: Shorten Your Timeline


When your commitment fades, it’s because there is too much time between the start and end.

Short deadlines make you focus on the commitment now.

You no longer delay it to some unknown future date.


“I want to lose 5 lbs in 5 weeks” is far better than saying, “I want to lose 5 lbs.”


Without the deadline, it’s not a commitment, it’s just a dream.


If you can’t achieve the goal in a short amount of time (like a few months at most), break it down into smaller parts to keep the ball rolling. Make the deadlines short enough to achieve mini goals.


If your ultimate goal is to lose 50 lbs, you need closer to a year to make that happen.

But a year is daunting. Instead, break the goal down into 10 pound increments.

Focusing on 5 mini goals sounds way better, doesn’t it?

“I want to lose my first 10 lbs in 10 weeks” is do-able.

It’s easy to keep momentum for 10 weeks at a time.


Step 4: Stay Accountable


Write your commitment on a post it note and leave it on the fridge.

Make a vision board and set it to your phone wallpaper.

Read your why statement every morning.

Set up phone alerts to remind you.

Tell a friend and set up check ins.

Do a monthly review.


Do whatever you have to do to not give up.


If accountability is challenging for you, there are 3 steps to develop it, which you can read about in Ownership Ends Suffering And Is A Skill You Can Learn.


Before the year ends, I leave you with this:

“Each decision brings its own delays and days are lost lamenting over lost days. What you can do or think you can do, begin it. For boldness has magic, power, and genius in it.” — Johann Wolgang van Goethe

Have a wonderful New Year and I’ll see you in 2024.


— Emma

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I write about the connection between personal growth, online business, and psychology to offer you tangible steps for your own transformation.

I'm emma

Actor, Writer, & Content Creator

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