By Jim Senhauser (Copyright 2012 IdeaTree, Ltd. All rights reserved.)
As singles, many of us can identify with what I will refer to as the commitment crisis, especially as it relates to our relationships. The commitment crisis is not isolated to us as singles, as evidenced by the rising rates of divorce and infidelity in our society.
This gap in personal integrity also leaves its footprints in our willingness to honor far more simple commitments. Think of the times that we singles say things like:
- "You can count on me."
- "We’ll have lunch next week."
- "Of course I’ll be there."
- "I’ll call you."
- "Why don’t we get together Friday night for sure."
- "I’m going to drop 10 pounds by Christmas."
Innocuous as these commitments seem, we often totally ignore the gravity of our stated promises and are guilty of a subsequent lack of follow-up. Unfortunately, this pattern sometimes carries over to more weighty commitments as well.
I believe that the commitment crisis for singles is actually a symptom of two larger, more pervasive problems. The first is that we are growing less and less willing to have our word mean anything and to honor it. We rationalize that the statements we make only need to be meaningful when WE want them to be. As a result, we totally ignore or at least markedly discount how much others may be relying on our words.
This lack of integrity is especially a problem in the case of new acquaintances (as most dates are). They do not yet know how unreliable we can be. Any resultant broken commitments not only hurt anyone who counts on our statements, they diminish us as trustworthy individuals. Just think about any of your unreliable friends who have consistently broken commitments and disappointed you in the past. Do you really want to be thought of in that way?
An equally sizeable challenge that plagues many singles is our ability (or inability) to be decisive. There’s a few of us who may not have grown sufficiently beyond the stage where our parents, teachers and others were there to make decisions for us. Perhaps more widespread, however, is an indecisiveness among singles that comes from trying to be perfect rather than optimal in our decision-making. Somehow many of us think that being a good decision maker comes from looking at EVERY possible alternative and angle and then incessantly pondering over each before reaching a decision. Exactly how attractive is it being a waffler?
For others of us, it may even mean reaching one decision while, all the while, actively continuing to explore the possibility of better alternatives. These folks continually try to devise alternatives for keeping as many of their options open as possible, while still being able to fall back on their initial decision. Those who practice the dubious art of the "bigger, better deal" utilize this approach to avoid true commitment until the last possible moment.
I’ll give you a good example of this behavior. I used to have a buddy in Cincinnati that I spent a lot of time with on Friday nights. He was a good-looking guy, having an outward air of confidence and a gift of gab. Because of this, he was able to attract a number of very attractive, bright, interesting and fun women. He dated a lot of them, but his relationships continually faltered because was constantly looking around to "upgrade" his choice. It didn’t take long for the women to pick up on this and usually that would the end the relationship. I was one of the few people who knew him well enough to realize the underlying insecurity that caused him to doubt his choices.
Sadly, it was many years before my buddy recognized that, more often than not, good decision-making, especially as it relates to relationships, is not finding the absolute best possible choice from every available option. Instead, it is selecting from a number of excellent possibilities and, through your commitment, hard work and diligence, making sure that your decision ends up being the right one for you. In other words, it’s less a matter of making the right decision than making your decision right!
When you make a decision, you are not automatically cast into some maelstrom of fickle fate. You, more than anyone, have the power to determine how your decision ends up. THAT, my friends, is the real power in making a decision.
One final note – a lot of singles struggle with decisions because they are afraid of making a mistake. For many, the fear of making a wrong choice is completely out of proportion with the real risk involved. From personal experience I can tell you that some singles struggle as much with whether to spend $100-$200 a year to join a social club as they do with deciding to shell out $30,000 on a new car!
Again, it all gets back to realizing that:
- You, more than anyone else, have the power to make sure the decisions you make turn out to be the right ones for you.
- You have to gauge the absolute and relative risks of a wrong decision. Choosing whether to go out with somebody or spend $100 is not as dire as whether to get married or buy a house.
- Even if you do make a few occasional mistakes, they are rarely the fatal foul-ups that you sometimes make them out to be. Don’t beat yourself up. Instead, embrace your mistakes and learn from them.
- The more you come to realize the power you have over your decisions, the more comfortable and confident you will become in making them.
Just keep in mind that the real power in a decision comes from examining several good options carefully, taking a reasonable time to choose the best one for you, and then committing fully to your choice to ensure that it is successful. Being half-hearted or wishy-washy about your decisions or looking with one eye on your choice and one on the door won't get it done. You have to learn to not only make your decisions but to BE YOUR WORD — and therein lies the real power.