Commitment — Banjo Style

I’ve been surprising myself lately. And one of the ways I’ve been doing it is by learning how to play the banjo. I’ve always found the pluck of a banjo exciting and bright, and a part of me has always been interested in learning how to play it. I even bought a banjo and a Teach Yourself Banjo book 12 years ago. However I never got past the 4th lesson on multiple attempts. There were many reasons that contributed to my lack of practice, but the main one was that I didn’t have a burning desire to play the banjo. I only had an interest.

Jack Canfield in The Success Principles makes a distinction between the ideas of Commitment and Interest. He says that a person who is interested in something will work towards obtaining it if he/she feels like. And a person who is committed to something will work towards obtaining it no matter what he/she feels like.  Basically, interests are subject to your emotions and desires and commitment is subject to nothing. Looking at my progress at the banjo over the last week, I realize I’m actually committed to learning how to play it! And cool things are happening. For instance, my left hand is starting to hit chords before I think about trying to make them — muscle memory is finding moments to break through the clouds of awkwardness and uncertainty. It’s wild and fun! In addition, I’m starting to hear the roll patterns (plucking patterns) in some Bela Fleck songs.

So what about you? Are there things in your life that you’ve wanted to accomplish but you haven’t? Maybe there’s a musical instrument of your own that you’ve always longed to play. Or perhaps you’ve wanted to get in better shape or run a half marathon. There might even be a country you’ve been dying to travel to for years…No matter what reasons you give yourself for not pursuing these things, know that it all boils down to commitment. It’s never that you don’t have enough time, coordination or money. It’s that you’re only interested in achieving what you want. And interest isn’t enough to consistently get you off the couch and into action. If you really want something, get committed! If you’re committed to getting in better shape, you’ll find a way to exercise in the middle of a snow storm (hmmmm….what happens if I run up and down this small flight of stairs for 30 minutes…). If you’re only interested in getting in better shape, the snow storm will give you an excuse to stay flabby.

Sometimes it’s good to stay interested. When you’re interested in something, your curiosity helps you gather more information about it. And sometimes you need more information before you can commit to it. But eventually you’ll want to get off the fence. Making a commitment to exercise daily or making a commitment to stay on the couch and eat more potato chips is wonderful. It’s the lack of commitment one way or another that creates issues. Mainly because it’s really uncomfortable to be on the fence about something. (After all, it’s hard to sit on those sharp wooden posts. :)) Commitment helps you jump off on one side or the other. So what are you waiting for? What’s something that you really want to accomplish, have or be? Stop being interested and get committed!

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