Virtue of the month for January 2014: Commitment
A brand New Year with no mistakes! Time to take a quick glance back over our shoulders at 2013 as it retreats, and a long look at the year that stretches before us with renewed energy, insight and vision.
Commitment is the glue between us and our vision. Without commitment we are apt to drift along, and change our minds depending on whatever is happening in the moment. “Well I know I said I would do it, but today I can’t because…”. Commitment is vital if others are to have faith in us, and even more important for us to have faith in ourselves.
It isn’t the most exciting of virtues, and it is certainly not the easiest. At times, we are even fearful of commitment and take pains to avoid it. Other times, we make a commitment but let go of it much earlier than we intended. Then we experience guilt, or bury it under layers of other emotions and bad habits. Why do these things happen? Because we are human.
Commitment means considering carefully what we want to do, making a decision to do something and then giving it our all. It involves following through and keeping our promises or agreements. It means being realistic and taking into account “the big picture” of our lives, and the many layers of complexity. It is helpful if commitments are time-limited, and if a review mechanism is built in so that adjustments can be made, as and when appropriate. Educator Rollo May commented that “Commitment is healthiest when it is not without doubt, but in spite of doubt”.
What are your children ready to make commitments about? Getting up the first time when roused? Homework commenced each day without reminders? A tidy bedroom? New routines or behaviours typically take three weeks to establish. Help your child put their commitments in writing, tell others about their plan and post reminders at home in high traffic areas. Where possible, support their choices by creating the conditions most likely to ensure success. An extrinsic reward (1:1 time with mum/dad for a board game, bike ride, swimming, etc.) may be a great way of helping establish new patterns until they sustain themselves.
Ask you children what commitment would look like if…
You have been assigned to work on a project with someone that you find difficult to get along with?
You fall asleep before finishing an assignment that is due tomorrow?
You have started piano lessons but now you are finding your studies are a lot of work?
Tessa Lloyd, Junior School Counsellor