A theme that’s been emerging in my world is the difference between Obligation and Commitment. For some people, they may be synonyms, but to me, they definitely are not. I’ve been doing one of my word studies to dig in and get them clear for myself.
the state or a quality of choosing to be dedicated to a cause
ob·li·ga·tion noun a course of action to which a person is morally or legally bound
There’s one keyword that delineates them, to me.
The more I dig into the etymology, history and meanings of the words, to me, commitment is choosing to bind yourself to something/someone and obligation is a thrust upon you and often feels like a burden.
This is important because I look at my life through the lens of choices.
Whenever I begin to feel obligated to something I pause to check in to see, is there anything about this ‘thing’ that I’m actually committed to? Can I connect to that commitment strongly enough that the feeling of burden lifts?
I find when I’m doing something out of obligation my heart isn’t in it, whereas if I can do it out of a commitment, it’s all heart.
One example is that I often skip buying presents for my friends on their birthday. But I’m known to randomly send gifts, cards etc when I feel inspired. I’m committed that they feel loved, but not obligated to do it in any particular way or on any specific timeline.
A small shift perspective can have a huge impact.
Another example. In March 2017 I’d been living a nomadic life for a couple of years and was starting to feel a bit like a fraud because I’d been in one place, my hometown no less, for several months. I was feeling obligated as a nomad to get back on the road and really pushing myself to make this happen. Funny thing is, when I related to it that way, as an obligation, I wasn’t able to get any traction. Everything I had planned didn’t come to fruition. This all became super clear when, three days before I was scheduled to finally leave town and go to Europe, My Guy experienced a major tragedy in his family. He said to me ‘don’t feel obligated to stay behind, you can go Europe‘ and my first thought was ‘hell no! I’m committed to you, I’m staying!‘.
That same conversation taught me another lesson, about my commitment to myself. Traveling and nomading is not an obligation – I chose this life and if it stops feeling juicy and awesome, if it starts feeling like a burden, then I will choose a different life. Once I again started relating to my lifestyle as a choice and commitment rather than a burden and obligation things started magically falling into place. By June 2017 I was back to traveling in a new and exciting way.
I wrote about Priorities and it’s still totally true. I continue to evolve and this conversation of Obligation and Commitment is just another layer to the onion of this round of evolution. My hope is that by sharing it with you, seeing my journey, will allow you to more deeply connect with your own.
Does this relationship between Obligation and Commitment ring true for you?
Are there things you’re doing out of Obligation that you can look for what you’re Committed to as a way to shift your relationship?