Do you wish you could follow your dreams and live a life of passion, but you’re not sure you can pull it off? Here’s how I learnt to commit to my own success by paying attention to this one thing.
We all find ourselves consumed by self-doubt from time to time. Am I making the right decision, am I good enough, am I going to regret this… these questions plague us and keep us awake at night and daydreaming during the day while we tune out of whatever is happening right in front of us. Yeah, we’ve all been there. It’s not easy to get rid of that nagging doubt, is it?
But it does happen. Once in a while, we tap into an invisible force that allows us to overcome any doubt and simply succeed. It feels like magic, some call it God, or The Force, some say it’s divine intervention and others call it, quite practically, confidence.
For me, looking back on my life, that magic element has always been this one thing:
Commitment is really hard, it’s actually the arch enemy of doubt, when there are so many options, alternatives, variables, factors, and constant change all the time in everything, around us and inside us. “Will I even feel the way I do now, in a little while? How can I commit to something that I don’t feel sure about?”
But the kind of commitment I’m talking about isn’t simple stupid stubbornness. It’s a deep, resonating belief that cannot be shaken. It’s a faith that is as unquestionable as the knowing that you exist, that the world exists, that you are really living and breathing as you read this. It’s the faith that you take so completely for granted that it allows you to build other things on its strong and stable foundation. If you doubted that you really existed, for example, could you then get out of bed every day, eat your breakfast, take a shower and go out into the world?
Commitment puts everything into the perspective of succeeding. You stop seeing mountains you can’t scale and instead you start to see the range of hills you need to plan your resources for. You start to look beyond your current limitations and only see how each step now serves you later.
This kind of commitment doesn’t just shape your life, it is shaped as you are. Because this kind of commitment cannot be forced. We can only have this kind of commitment for something that resonates deeply, something that was already a part of us even before we came face to face with it.
It’s like meeting someone for the first time and knowing deep within that you’ll love them forever.
And it leaves you changed forever. It makes you, quite literally, who you are today. For me, there have been three significantly defining experiences that allowed me to have that deep, unquestioning commitment. And there’s one common element amongst them all.
#1 Moving to New York City alone at the age of 17 — I had nothing to lose and only possibility ahead of me.
#2 Exercising with my bodyweight at home in just 12 minutes of high-intensity interval training — when you are only competing against yourself, for just 12 minutes in a day, it’s a no-brainer to push hard and give it your all.
#3 My first 10-day silent meditation course — once I realised that the worst that could happen was to quit before the end, I went all-in, and stopped questioning what I was doing there.
Each of these experiences had one defining moment of commitment: the moment I realised I had nothing to lose — and everything to give. When I said, “Well, I’m already here, I might as well give it my all and see what happens.” When I surrendered my doubt to my commitment. Isn’t it ironic that feeling you have nothing to lose actually allows you to give it your all?
We all have one life, with the same number of hours in a day. You’re already here, what have you got to lose by giving it your all?
When you become fully committed, giving up or changing paths stops being an option, and doubt is replaced by focus. And that focus can carry you through your pain and exhaustion to the very end of the road. You find a way, through all the challenges and hurdles that cross your path.
But there’s an important distinction to be made here: This kind of commitment isn’t to a specific end-result, it’s a commitment to giving it your all, in every passing moment.
When you are fully committed, you don’t commit to an end-result. You commit to being someone you believe in being. And that version of being creates possibilities that you can’t even imagine in your present state of being.
You may not succeed in the way you expected, but what I can actually guarantee is that you will succeed. When giving up stops being an option, the only possibilities that remain are success, in all its many different forms.
The hardest part of starting a new painting is starting. But once I give up the doubt in exchange for commitment to showing up to do my part in the creative process, that’s where the magic begins. The painting I end up with may not look like the one I imagined at the start, but because I’ve given it my full committed effort in every moment along the way, it often ends up better than the one I envisioned.
It’s just like no matter how much effort you put into choosing the right life partner, you’ll never know who your child together will turn out to be. Creation has a life of its own, but if you don’t do your part, it can’t do its part.
So create something in your life today. Don’t be attached to the outcome. Just commit fully to yourself, to giving it your all, to simply being present, and doing your part. Pick up that paintbrush, tie those shoelaces on your running shoes, open that CV document waiting to be edited, write that email to the CEO of your dream company, buy that plane ticket to travel the world. When you are fully committed to giving it your all in each passing moment, and not to the final outcome, the hypothetical future in which you fall flat on your face has no chance of becoming reality against the full force of your determination to simply create something meaningful and memorable in your life.
Give life to your dreams, in the here and now. You’re already here, what have you got to lose?