Today marks the the first day of Spring in my part of the world.
A new season, a new beginning.
But New Year Resolutions season is past. And the chances are, if you were optimistic enough to make any, they are now in the same state as the midnight fireworks of December 31st – mere damp squibs and distant memories of a glorious but fleeting light show.
One American study showed that only 8% of people who resolve to change at New Year actually do it, and the rest are still hauling their bad habits around with the added weight of feeling guilty.
Many a wise person has come to realise that the chief difference between success and failure is commitment.
Commitment is a firm, fixed, unshakable determination to do whatever is decided.
The ‘whatever’ can be anything from the trivial to the momentous, from making contact with an old friend, to achieving enlightenment.
It can be building a wall or living a dream, finding a fitness buddy or seeking a soul mate. Commitment, however, accepts neither failure nor excuses. It doesn’t accommodate half measures and it doesn’t leave the door open to intruders who would foil the cause.
Commitment is about taking one step after another all the way to journey’s end, right through the speed traps and all diversions. As comedian Josh Billings put it a long time ago: “Be like a postage stamp. Stick to one thing until you get there.”
When is commitment not commitment?
When you’re wandering about in two minds!
Doubt is the big dream killer.
You like the sound of the ultimate goal, the amazing career, the Tibetan trek, the wonderful, loving, life partnership and so on, but you harbour misgivings about how much work, worry and hard-earned cash it will take to achieve it; and your resolve is duly diluted in proportion to the anticipated hardships.
The doubt most frequently fatal to the dream is the one which wonders whether the goal is even possible.
If that kind of doubt takes hold, it sucks the life right out of the fledgling dream and it will never take flight. Commitment requires unmitigated certainty that the desired end can indeed be reached, that it is indeed desirable and that the rewards will make the effort worthwhile.
Only then does the whole human gamut of physical, psychic and spiritual faculties mesh into an unstoppable force dedicated to the purpose.
The German writer and politician Goethe is often attributed with saying:
There is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.
All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.
A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
Of course, the chances of success rise considerably if you are a devoted seeker of spiritual enlightenment, especially if you practise the exercises that come with any system of spiritual development.
Mental disciplines such as concentration, contemplation, logic and reason, memory strengthening and autosuggestion, are all powerful aids to positive thinking and living.
But the indispensable tool to bring to bear if you really want to achieve something worthwhile, is harnessing the single-mindedness of commitment to something.
Mastin Kipp, an entrepreneur who forged success in social media, is quoted as saying:
If you have a dream, don’t make a Plan B. If you have a Plan B you’re going to end up at Plan B. You need to be all in on Plan A. All your love, all your faith, all your energy, all your determination.
He is so right; little of any value is achieved with a half-hearted approach.
Too often, people listen to others rubbishing their ideas or washing them with a tidal wave of warnings about why they’re unworkable, ill-advised, pie-in-the-sky or plain stupid.
Some of the world’s most successful companies and inventions were brought into being by people who, thankfully, ignored the cynics and went ahead anyway.
Obviously, you need to apply some common sense and realism before setting out on a grand scheme, but numerous people have made their visions come true even when all the technology and evidence of the day said it couldn’t be done and they can all bear witness to the virtue of forging ahead anyway.
Another factor which often gets in the way of a good idea is procrastination: putting off what needs to be done to bring it to fruition by allowing yourself to be diverted into other tasks, worthy or not.
Commitment means you’ll do what needs to be done regardless of other duties, other people and other possibilities which crop up.
Not many of us enjoy the luxury of 24 hours a day to spend entirely on our chosen mission.
But actually, most people can work toward their goals quite comfortably alongside seeing to the necessities and other considerations of day-to-day living, including carrying out domestic chores spending time with family and friends and dealing with routine responsibilities.
Many people, not all of them superheroes, manage to do all that and work towards several goals simultaneously.
Yet another enemy which often pits itself against the sincere resolutionist is the occurrence of the unforeseen obstacle.
This is the curve ball which can be thrown by no less an adversary than life itself, the drop-everything-and-deal-with-this eventuality which requires a switch in priorities, perhaps from self-development to someone else’s pressing interests.
It’s a genuine emergency like having to deal with fire or flood, take care of property matters or distressed relatives in the case of bereavement, or cope with redundancy, trauma or any number of other circumstances which can arise without warning.
In these cases, it may be the decent thing or feel like the only thing to do to drop the dream, at least for a while, although commitment will ensure that it is only set aside for a time, perhaps nurtured with enough to keep it going for a while and not abandoned altogether. Even in such situations, true commitment means that nothing and nobody will change the “I will” for “Sorry, I can’t.”
New Year Resolutions are a January tradition in my part of the world, and a time honoured, fine one at that. They concentrate the mind, invigorate the soul and give us a map by which to plan our route and mark our progress, even if we sometimes deviate from the main roads.
Personally, I like to cross-match several across all spheres of life, from work to my spiritual pursuits, although it has to be said there’s more movement along some than others, and a few remain stubbornly stuck.
On 20th March, the Spring equinox which marks the Rosicrucian New Year, among other things, is an excellent time to make resolutions.
Spring after all, is the time of resurgence in nature, of trees re-growing their foliage, and milder weather setting in.
It’s never too late to rescue a good resolution, but what better time could there be to state those good intentions afresh and set about making them manifest with that real and magical power of commitment?