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Committing to commitment

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Business woman happy with her successI’ve always struggled with commitment. In fact, I’d go so far as to say I’m a commitment-phobe.

And I’m not just talking about commitment in terms of romantic relationships. I’ve also struggled to commit to a course of action, to stick with it after the initial flurry of excitement has inevitably worn off. This applies just as much to activities or hobbies, like sports or dance classes, as it does to my work, such as an idea for an article or the book I’m trying to write.

One minute, I’m all fired up. I can’t think of anything else and I’m happy to work late into the night. But pretty soon, my interest wanes. I start looking for distractions – anything to occupy my time other than the thing I’m supposed to be focusing on. And I start coming up with all manner of reasons why the idea I initially thought was brilliant is now rather mediocre and not worth my effort.

And since I’ve committed – to my book and to the man – I’ve felt a lot happier, freer almost. I am 100 percent in, rather than half-in, half-out, and that feels good. It feels different. It feels new.

The problem with this attitude is that very little gets done. I waste my time and energy wavering, doubting, wondering what to do next.

I recently discovered, however, that I could break this rather self-defeating pattern, simply by committing myself to a particular path and staying with it, even if I’m filled with self-doubt, even if several other easier or more attractive paths appear before me.

Because it’s only once I’ve committed, it’s only once I’ve walked through my doubts and wholeheartedly accepted the choice I’ve made that I start to embrace that choice and feel the benefits of it.

So, a few weeks ago, I committed to my book. I made a commitment to myself that I’m going to finish it. To honour this commitment, I took two weeks off work, two weeks out of London and booked myself into an incredible writers’ retreat in North Devon.

It felt like a luxury at first, an indulgence if you like. But pretty soon, I realised that it was the best investment I could have made. I became unstuck and the writing flowed.

Finally, I can say that my book is coming along quite nicely and I know, at some point in the future, I’ll be blogging about the finished article here.

But I’m embracing the idea that there is no right or wrong, that life is a risky adventure and, to use a catchphrase, you’ve got to be in it to win it.

Secondly, I made a rather momentous decision to commit to a relationship. My pattern in relationships has often been to have one foot in and one foot out, to hold on to the guy with one hand but to keep one foot in the door, in case I wanted to make a quick escape. But these half-hearted relationships haven’t got me very far.

So I am now in a committed relationship with a man. I’ve known him for three-and-a-half years and we dated for three months last summer. But this time, we’re both giving it a proper shot. This means using the ‘boyfriend’ word – you wouldn’t think that would be hard for a 43-year-old woman, but for some reason it is – and declaring on Facebook that we’re in a relationship (I’ve never done that before either). Oh yes, and we’ve also posted a string of selfies in various scenic spots, not my usual modus operandi.

I’m not saying I don’t have my doubts – doubting is part of my nature. I always question my choices and generally assume I make poor decisions. But every time I wonder whether I’m doing the right thing going out with my ex, I remind myself that second guessing is my pattern, it’s a habit or an addiction of sorts and that the only way of finding out whether this relationship is going to work is by giving it my all.

And since I’ve committed – to my book and to the man – I’ve felt a lot happier, freer almost. I am 100 percent in, rather than half-in, half-out, and that feels good. It feels different. It feels new.

Commitment, for me, has always been terrifying. Choosing one course of action means cutting off all the other options. What about the other book I might want to write? What about the other guys I might want to date? What if I make the wrong choice?

But I’m embracing the idea that there is no right or wrong, that life is a risky adventure and, to use a catchphrase, you’ve got to be in it to win it.

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