Commitment: why you should never click the “Maybe” button
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 7 seconds
Cigarettes are shit. There is not a single good thing about them. They’re expensive, they make you smell like an ashtray, heavily impact your athletic ability and worst of all, they kill you. To a rational mind, there is absolutely no fucking point in smoking a cigarette. Want a high? Go lift some weights. Flirt with a beautiful woman. Play an instrument. But don’t ruin your body and your wallet for the sake of being cool, getting a buzz or getting to know people – there are plenty of other ways to do that.
That being said, I’m a big fan of cigarette commercials. More specifically, of the Marlboro commercials a while ago. Their line was “Don’t be a maybe”. And while they were referring to the feeling of freedom that you apparently get when you smoke, I like the overall message. You really shouldn’t be a maybe. As a matter of fact, the word “maybe” should not even exist in your vocabulary. But in order to elaborate that, let me back up a little bit.
It’s summer in Frankfurt, and my birthday is coming up. Knowing me, it’s not very surprising that I may or may not be throwing a rad house party (for the sake of this post, let’s just assume there will be one). From my professional endeavours, I know that it’s very important to plan properly a few weeks before the deadline at the very latest. As soon as you start going into firefighting mode, productivity is diminished and costs skyrocket. That’s not where you wanna be. So I’m sitting here, thinking about all sorts of stuff – how much beer will we need, how many red cups do I still need to order, is our apartment actually going to be big enough to hold all the people? You know, the big questions of life. In order to get any idea how many people will be attending, I take a look at the Facebook event. What does it say?
Some people are going. Some haven’t seen it yet. Some can’t make it due to some legit or shady excuse – either way, I know what’s up. And where is the majority?
What do you mean, maybe? You might be able to make it? You just don’t know yet? The event is in two days but you’re not sure? To quote my Canadian lacrosse coach: “FUCK.” Do you not have control over your life? Are you not able to distinguish for yourself what’s important and what’s not? Are you simply a playing ball of fate? I don’t think so. If you were, you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog. If you are, welcome to the good side of life!
It’s really not hard to make or not make the commitment. In fact, it’s a binary decision. Zero or one. Yes or no. There is no alternative. Either you’ll be there or you won’t. Sounds easy, right?
Nowadays, we live in a society where it’s easy to stay uncommitted. Which makes sense, too – after all, there are a million options there. Sure, you could go to this party or that party, go to Madrid or to London, attend a lacrosse tournament or go hiking. That all sounds nice and could potentially be really awesome. It’s cool to be able to do so many things. Yet in the end, without making a commitment to anything, you’re falling into two traps: the paradox of choice and missing out on anticipation.
The Paradox of Choice
“But Dom, you’ve been writing about that shit over and over again…” Yes, I know. I’m very aware of that, actually. I’m also not the only one – there have been plenty of scientists and authors going on and on about that topic. Here’s a refresher: the more options you have, the harder it is to make a decision. The harder a decision is to make, the less likely you’re going to make it. And that’s how you end up not doing anything on a weekend night with thousands of options – you’re simply paralyzed by the amount of information you have to process. There is only one way to get out of the paradox of choice: making a commitment. Making one decision and then sticking with it. This also includes not asking “What if?”, because that question will leave you circling back and forth around that decision.
Treat the decision as one that lies in your past and that you cannot influence. Thinking about it this way frees up a lot of mental capacity, giving you a chance to actually make some really important decision, such as “what do I want to do with my life?”.
Studies have shown that doing cool things makes people happy. Pretty groundbreaking, I’d say. What’s more interesting: anticipation of doing these cool things makes people even happier than actually doing them. Looking forward to something is one of the most amazing things that we can do.
I’ve never understood why my parents would book their vacation one year in advance. Holy shit. Who plans that far? I certainly don’t. I just thought my parents were planning freaks who cannot deal with going into the unknown. But I’ve changed my mind: while they still may be obsessed with planning things, one thing that’s even more important to them is anticipation. They love looking forward to traveling somewhere, and they also look forward to doing all these cool things that they will be doing (because they’ve already planned them and booked them – or, committed to them).
Man, I’m so pumped about having that party. It’s 4 weeks away. I’m also incredibly pumped about going to Thailand in November. That’s gonna be so cool. And just thinking about these things makes me smile. The future holds bright things. Yet, before actually booking these flights or setting up that party, I wasn’t pumped at all – it was a drag. Where should I go? Whom should I invite? Rough decisions, and after making them, I felt very relieved. And happy.
Commitment makes you happy. And the best thing: it doesn’t make just you happy, but everybody else around you too.
Non-Commitment is a punch in the face
Yes, you’ve read that right. Saying “maybe” is the same as “I really don’t know if you’re cool enough for me, but maybe if all the other options suck, I’ll spend some time with you”. Would you ever say that to a friend? To a teammate? To a family member? I highly doubt it. Because it’d be highly offensive, and rightly so.
Imagine the coolest activity you could possibly ever do. For me, one of these activities would for instance be having a few beers with my favorite author and idol, Tim Ferriss. If I had the chance to meet Tim, would I say “yeahhhh maybe I’ll go?” Fuck no. I’d be all over that opportunity in an instant. I highly value this dude, therefore I am able to make a commitment. Is it the same for something that I don’t really wanna do? No. And then I should have the balls to say “no, I’m not going to do that” instead of “yeah maybe I’ll do that” and then backing out last minute with a “sorry I can’t make it, I have other priorities”. Stay firm, stay strong and say the things the way they are.
I’m not particularly great at this, either. I sometimes back out of lacrosse practice last minute because I didn’t control my day properly, got caught up in some stupid shit and then other parts of my life had to suffer. It happens to all of us. But being aware of it is the first step in the right direction. So, the next time you tell yourself that you might want to go, ask yourself plain and hard: is this what I really want? If the answer is no, say that you’re not going to go or do it. And if the answer is yes, go ahead and make a commitment. It’s a great feeling to have.
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