Commitment

It’s what comes after passion and vision.  Commitment is a trap if you don’t have your passion and vision well-defined.

When the question of “How much time can you commit?” comes up, and I don’t know exactly what I’m trying to accomplish, I used to tell myself and everybody else whatever they wanted to hear just to get them off my back.

I don’t do that much anymore.

Drive with no vision means you’re going to do things by trial-and-error.  When you commit to something, or someone pushes you to commit, but you have no vision for it yet,  you’ll end up spending a lot of time discovering what it is you’re trying to do.  I’m going to write a book. No, start a business. No, invent something.  There’s a time for discovery. But commitment comes after that, not before.  So make sure you have passion and vision.  Then when the question of commitment comes up, you have a well thought-out answer,
and the question doesn’t feel like it backs you into a corner.

In the real world, figuring out a core passion can take awhile.  Sometimes it comes through a lot of introspection.  Sometimes it comes from a super difficult time in your life that tears you apart to the core.  Sometimes it comes at the end of a marathon, where you’ve pushed yourself to your limits.  When you’re going through events which form you as a person, your identity is in flux, and therefore so is your passion.  Major events in your life will change who you are – graduation, first job, death in the family, marriage, birth of a child.  So in reality, it might take time to discover your passion.  Making a vision around that passion might take more time.  Maybe it takes so long that by the time you have a vision, you’ve changed and need to re-hone your passion.  If you’ve started a project and not finished it, then you know what I mean.  It could likely be part of the process of discovering your passion.

Eventually, a passion becomes well-defined and well-weathered.  It still goes through changes — a person’s passion should grow and change as they do — but the changes are slower.  It changes slow enough that you can build a vision around it.  And the vision based on that passion will also grow and change.  So, the product you end up with may not be the one you start with.  You may throw out a lot of ideas and adopt new ones along the way.

When your passion and vision are well-defined, then commiting becomes a different question.  Without a vision, the question of commitment is like a blood pact.  You’re going to force yourself to do something against who you are as a person.  For artists, this is a bad idea which either drains creativity or makes you quit and weakens your integrity.  But with a vision, the question of commitment is like a powerful tool, like compound interest.  The affect should be that you wish you could spend all day working on your project, but unfortunately, you have a limited amount of time to dedicate to it.  When you get to that point, you’re not committing to something you’re unsure of.  Instead, you’re insuring that life’s responsibilities don’t eat up all your time.  You’re able to dedicate a certain amount of time to your project, but you’re also letting life set constraints on it, which inspires innovation and keeps you on track.

Another pitfall concerning commitment is that you should commit all your spare time to your project.  In some cases, this can be unhealthy and backfire. You may need recharge time.  My advice is don’t just budget for working, eating, sleeping, and doing your project.  If you don’t need recharge time, then go for it. Just be honest and realistic when budgeting your time.