2017 theme: “Commit”

I don’t find resolutions a very useful strategy, as you know if you’ve been reading here for a while, but I have been trying lately to have a theme for the year. 2016’s theme was “ask.”

On the whole, it’s been a good theme, although I don’t really think it’s over, yet. I made a big successful ask. I’ve been asking for lesser things basically non-stop since May, though, without a lot of result. However, I think what that means is I need to modify my asks and also to be more consistent about them (in part, hence, this year’s theme). Oh, and as to fruitless obsessions: my alcohol consumption has fallen by at least 90 percent; however, my politics obsession continues unabated and I’ve had more free time this year to read about politics than I have had in my entire life. This is so typical of me. I clamp down on one questionable behavior and all the other ones get out of hand.

Richard Armitage and Anna Madeley in The Crucible (2014).

Richard Armitage and Anna Madeley in The Crucible (2014).

The reason I picked “commit” for this year is that it has occurred to me that I’m now getting to the point where I’m spinning my wheels a little. I practiced being fearless (sorry, Mr. Armitage, that was a few years ago for me), I refused to feel guilty, I freed myself from an exhausting situation, and I asked for the help I needed and I go on asking.

I’m not unhappy (due to emotional labor, I’m busy, at any rate), but it’s clear to me that by conventional measures, I’m suffering from commitment phobia. I’m not lonely by any means (in fact, although there are moments when I might like to be having certain conversations, on the whole, I’d like to spend more time alone), but it’s now been ten years without a significant other. I used to be incredibly devoted to my job — but I haven’t yet found a work that would allow that again. I had been thinking that was a positive development, but the problem I’ve discovered is that I miss that feeling of total immersion in a task I am doing. I need to find a work that is absorbing but not so demanding that I drown myself in it. I think this is a piece of the problem — in the past, when I’ve been committed, I’ve been over-committed and part of me is afraid of that feeling again. But I’ve got at least to get my feet wet again.

Perhaps most significantly — the place where I am mostly easily immersed is in writing. I wanted to write. And I do write, but not with the sort of commitment or concentration or focus that I wanted.

I think, also, I have had enough time to think. I’ve thought so long and hard about somehow returning to teaching and I’m hesitant that it’s a good idea. So for right now I am discarding that option. But it’s true that I haven’t found that fascination yet, and I’m not going to wait any longer. I have Richard Armitage, right? For the fascination? He’s the only truly compelling fascination I have at the moment, problematic as that might be.

I always used to tell people who were in my current situation (unable to find the convincing thing) to commit, and if they didn’t love the result, even so they would learn something. Waiting for the perfect thing, even searching for the perfect thing, will condemn one to failure. It’s time to do. And daylight is still burning. I saw my cousin today and was reminded that her mother, my aunt, was dead at 59. For me, that would be twelve more years. In that space of time, I could have finished writing (even if I didn’t manage to publish) a number of novels.

So: time to commit. Here we go.

~ by Servetus on January 7, 2017.

19 Responses to “2017 theme: “Commit””

  1. You go, girl!

  2. Yes, I know where you’re coming from. And my mother was dead at 59 too: it does make you realise not only that you need to get on and do things you want to do (she had all sorts of plans for her retirement and of course didn’t make it that far), but also to stop doing things you don’t enjoy. I’m now older than my mother (though turning 60 felt very weird) and have given up a career that was very successful but had become stale, and turned to something much more creative.

    I was lucky in that I had a hobby that I loved and was able to turn it into a new way of life (albeit a very badly paid one!) and not everybody has that option. But it’s true that you don’t find out if something is right for you without giving it a proper go. And as you say, at the very least you will learn something. And of course if it’s not the right thing, you can always stop doing it! Commitment doesn’t mean a life sentence. All the best for 2017, may you find the right path.

    • “Commitment doesn’t mean a life sentence.” So true and something I have a hard time believing (I understand it, but life experience has gone in other directions.

      I think i’d really been limiting the kinds of jobs i was looking at because I can always see the dealbreaker. But I think my new theory is that I’ll commit to doing something and that will enhance my desire to commit to creativity in my free time.

    • Oh and sorry: I have exactly that concern that you learned from your mother. My mom also had all these grand plans for retirement that she was never able to pursue. I feel like she was enjoying her life in the years before she died, but it’s galling to know that there were so many things she was still interested in.

  3. I think there are sometimes turning points in our lives. In the moment of a decision you don’t know if it is right or wrong for the futur. But for which futur? For you, your family,your friends? Only looking back you can say it was the right decision. Speaking for me I have had a similar turning point. I am, no, I was a scientist in applied research, after birth of my children I got only temporary work contract, low-paid with the reason mid forties are no longer intelligent, so I stopped my career. I needed nearly 2 years to find out what I wanted to do with my life and also in which buisness unit I wanted to work. My mom fainted as I told her I stopped my career. But it was my decision and looking back it was right to change my buisness career. Take your time and I think you will arrive at the right decision

    • Thanks for sharing your experience; I’m having similar experiences in that despite all my experience and knowledge, I’m somehow simultaneously under and over-qualified … I’m sure I’ll find something — as I tend to like the things I’m doing once I am doing them.

      One of the concrete issues I’m experiencing right now is that living with a retiree and not having a definitive structure to my day, I’m starting to feel a little bit of the aimlessness of a retiree. I really don’t like that! I may need to get really immersed in a volunteer situation, as opposed to the marginal volunteering I do at the moment.

  4. Best of luck for 2017 and may you find the right path for yourself!

  5. I like the idea of a “theme” for a new year. Much better than the short-term pressure of resolutions which usually fall by the wayside around February… And your example shows that it can be a successful strategy to make long-term changes. On the back of the previous themes, you will hopefully have the strength and opportunity to commit this year. Writing as a career can work, as I have found myself, although it may mean compromising, too. Some of it is about an efficient balance between writing for work and writing for pleasure. I hope you will find a way to change your career accordingly.

    • I think it works if it’s something that’s really persistent in the back of my mind. I don’t do well with specific goals for some reason.

      I don’t think I want to write as a career although I wouldn’t exclude the possibility. But I do want to commit to something that tightens up my commitment to writing as the most important thing I’m doing. I haven’t been treating it that way and I need to if I want to get anywhere.

  6. Good luck with exploring your theme. For me, this year, I am trying to figure out how to balance my commitment to my family and my over-commitment to my work with some sort of commitment to myself. My work is not the perfect job and I wonder if the perfect job for most of us is even out there. It does, however, allow me to exercise quite a number of my different skills and even to be creative (within limits) now and then. But I find it hard to find the off switch. And as I approach those older ages you are talking about, I think I need to be able to make some time for me, as a priority and commitment.

    • That’s my biggest fear about commitment to work: how to be able to swtich off, or even determine, when work is over. I’ve found myself again and I can’t afford to lose her.

  7. I think that you will do well with this years theme of commit. If you think about it you have had a theme for a few years that you have made a commitment to, this will just be a new direction to that .

  8. You’ve picked another good one! In certain aspects I can relate to that. for me, on the relationship front I am happily committed, on the job front, however, I can’t seem to figure out what I want to do or commit to either. This is a tough cookie but I am sure you will rise to the challenge one way or other! Good luck and I hope 2017 brings you wehre you need to be!

    • One some level, it’s been like I “know too much” to do certain kinds of jobs. I can’t just go into them as optimistically as I might. Ah well. I’ll figure it out. I just need to get more active in doing that.

  9. […] sunk cost fallacy at work? That’s also been an actual problem of mine, historically, part of why I’m experiencing difficulty with committing myself at the moment. Then again, I seem to have little difficulty committing myself as an Armitage […]

  10. […] really have time for intense volunteer work, either. Oddly. In general, it’s part of the whole “commit” question — and a quarter of the year is over. I’ve been trying harder to commit to things, but […]

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