Choosing Between Two Commitments

IMG_2915Have you ever had that experience where you are pulled in two different directions? Where you have agreed to, perhaps, volunteer to lead a day at the soup kitchen or you have a big work deadline, and your child’s team makes the playoffs and their game is at the same time.

A while back I had an experience that shifted my world view. I am someone who, once I make a commitment, I stick to it. If I tell you I’m going to do something, I will do it.

Over the years, I often felt the tension between a commitment to an entity outside of myself (work, community, charity) and my own or my loved ones’ needs. I realized that I would sometimes sacrifice my loved one or myself for my commitment to another entity.

Through the years, I became more aware of this disconnect. I worked to have fewer commitments, to have less on the calendar, to allow for more empty space.

The big shift happened one time when my daughter was visiting me. We were supposed to have some friends over one evening. My daughter came to me that afternoon. She was really burned out and needed some down time. She just didn’t have the energy to be social.

In the old days, I would never have cancelled the dinner plans. I would have wanted us to muscle on and put on a brave face. “We wouldn’t want to offend our friends.”

But, this time, I asked myself, what was most important? What was the goal here? It became perfectly clear. I called the friends and cancelled.

WOW! That was a first!

The reward was my daughter felt heard. We both relaxed and had a lovely low-key evening on the patio, talking for hours. The evening was a gift.

This was a lesson for me. The world did not shatter or fall apart. I was not deemed a “bad” person. And both my daughter and I felt tended to and fed.

Instead, I learned to stay focused on what was truly most important. Sometimes it’s not clear and there are ramifications for our actions. But asking the question, “What is most important?” helps guide the ship.

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