The Art of Commitment: Internalizing Resilient Persistence
Hello again readers! I apologize for the lapse in posting the past couple of weeks, but as an undergrad the end of the semester is always a busy time for me, so it's harder to find the time (and energy) to write for my side ventures. That being said, as of now I am officially done with my first year of university! By the time you are reading this I will already be home and out of my dorm for forever (how weird is that?!) All grades are in, and the stage is set for Fall where I will begin yet another semester on the rat-wheel of academia at Penn State. Overall, I am pleased with how I ended the year— which is a feat in of itself considering the ADHD abomination that was my first semester. And although a learning process, this semester I feel as though I've uncovered my own key to "success" that really made the difference. Commitment.
S e e , I s t a r t e d
2 0 2 1
with a BOLD statement:
This is my year of commitment.
Commitment not only to my responsibilities, i.e. academics, but commitment to my words and actions as well. In of itself this one little word has encouraged massive improvement in every facet of my life. To go a little further into why humor me with some context.
Now readers, at the start of this blog you are catching me at a personal peak. I'm spearheading opportunities, feeding my passions, and overall just trying to live a life I am proud of. Yet, it was not always this way. Historically, most of my life I've lived with a silver spoon in my mouth. My family, though small, is incredibly tight knit, and accomplished in their own right, and as someone with mildly-above average intelligence, I matured fairly accustomed to the idea that I needed to apply relatively little extra effort in order to get by. Pre-university I was comfortable not studying in exchange for mediocre grades, and had little desire to 'stand out' from the crowd for my efforts. This low-effort way of living is fine when you are a kid with little responsibility, but as I saw first semester— it is much harder to sustain when more distractions and duties are added to the mix. Not to mention with Covid all but allowing me to blow off my second half of senior year studies, it was a shock to the system to say the least when arriving to university last Fall.
I had to autonomously work harder, in a more challenging curriculum, all the while on an unfamilar and depersonalized digital platform that I had never learned on before. This lead to me mindlessly missing assignments, avoiding ones which would take too much time to understand, and overall just struggling to keep myself accountable.
From this, it is easy to see why my "Year of Commitment" was a necessary step forward. I started small. Making it my goal at the start of this semester to not miss any assignments if I could help it. And though my 'March of ailments' made that difficult at times, my resolve to uphold this intangible goal, made me more open to asking for help when I needed it, and showed me the importance of reaching out instead of turning in. I've found the hardest part of upholding this pledge came not from the assignments themselves, but from my motivation to do them. As I had to internalize the acceptance that achieving my goals requires not only giving effort on the days I feel like it, but also on the days that I don't. See, the interesting thing I've found about commitment is (arguably) that the effort you put in on the days you don't feel like it, matters more than the effort you put in when you do. Though obviously both are necessary, my true 'commitment' came when I needed to force myself to do not what was best for me in the moment, but in the future. This is because your internal resilience and discipline only truly appear when you are challenged and tested- not when you are content and comfortable. Understand, the effort I gave on my good days remained relatively the same from fall to spring. Where the difference lied this time around was in my continued, conscious efforts on my bad days. Before I would hide from head-scratching moments of confusion, yet now I can see how these moments are necessary to find clarity later on. Before I would run from challenge, though now I see its necessity to beget change. As much as I, and you, might want to think that we can procrastinate our efforts, the truth is we can't. The same way I can only get good grades, by studying and completing assignments, the only way any of us can cross our own personal 'finish lines' is by running the race unfortunately.
But, what if you don't know what line you're trying to cross? You might ask. How can one stay committed to something if they don't know it is? That is the million dollar question. It's impossible to stay committed to a goal you have yet to clearly define. For it's much harder to organize steps to achieve success, when you're not even sure what it is you are trying to achieve! No matter how lost you may be feeling in this moment, everyone has something that they are working towards. Even if it's just the grand, sweeping statements most people respond when asked what their goals are in life, like "I want to be successful", or "I want to be rich." And while these are good guidelines, success and rich are relative terms. One could consider themselves just as rich and successful being a nomad, as a venture capitalist if that is what makes them feel rich and successful. The key is defining what will make you feel successful? Is it finishing college top of your class? Is it running a successful business? Then ask again, "What can I do today to help reach that goal?" Realize, the trick to success is specificity. Getting specific, helps you get organized and accountable. Because once you can firmly define what it is you are actually working towards you can better frame what you can or can't do to realize that goal.
Yet, being committed doesn't automatically equate to being a slave to your goals either. Sometimes you have a busy day and need a break, and while your efforts should be priortized, they should also be flexible. I like to think of commitment more as being mindful rather than being motivated. Motivation is temporary and suggestible to impulse. Whereas, mindfulness is inexhaustible and once internalized can offer a certain 'big picture' perspective of your journey that breeds the resilience and determination needed for commitment. Realizing that yours actions today will impact your progress tomorrow is the back-bone of a disciplined mindset. Because commitment is a tricky thing, success is not guaranteed. You might put in effort day in and day out and feel as though you fail to see results. But, just like a good diet you must keep that 'big picture' perspective and stay consistent in order to sustain your efforts forward— without this future fulfillment is impossible.
Now, as a society —especially in this digital highlight reel age— it can be so easy for us to gloss over the hard parts of the journey when it is mainly the end success we publicize. Yet, without the many days of unseen hard work, and determination the final success we all come to idealize would have never come to fruition in the first place. Look at Jeff Bezos for example! Today he has single-handedly changed the face of the global market place, and is worth more than the British Monarchy! Though, while everyone is quick to list his successes today they are slow to talk about the 5 years he ran Amazon without even making a profit! That is 5 years of working towards his dream of success before he ever saw gratification! Success truly takes unbridled resilience and commitment.
Now, I am not by any means here to brag by showing off my small gains these past months. But, I do think it's important that as a whole we start acknowledging the not-so-pretty extra effort that drives the achievement we all crave. Slowly, but surely I am finding my footing forwards. All the while making sure to feed my idea of success with resilient commitment, mindfulness, and persistence.
So I guess the only question now is: How can you commit?
Share your goal below, and see if other readers have similar aspirations or advice!
See you next week :)