When you get married, you commit to being faithful to that person and partnering with them for life. When you accept a job offer, you commit to showing up 40 hours a week and doing your work with excellence. When you sign up for a class, you commit to attending the sessions and completing the assigned homework outside of class hours. 

We are used to the idea of commitment in formal settings when we sign a contract or agree to a set of terms. But do we commit to the small things in our daily lives? When we tell a friend we’ll be at their event, do we show up? When we say we will help someone move, do we keep our word?

Do we even commit to the things we tell ourselves we will do? When we set a goal to only eat out once a week or to read two books a month, do we stick to these goals? 

Most of us would probably agree that we should commit to things and follow through on our word, but why? 

It Builds Trust 

Being a person of your word, someone that others know they can count on when you agree to something, is an effective way to develop Referent Power. Referent Power comes from acting in accordance with what you say you value. For example, if you say you value humility but act with pride, that would actively work against your ability to develop Referent Power. Referent Power is contingent on others being able to trust that if you will follow through on what you say you will do. In other words, it means being a person who commits. 

It Develops Purpose 

Let’s consider, for a moment, what would happen if we didn’t commit; if we were free to follow our whims and decide on a moment’s notice whether or not to participate in something. Even if we could change our minds last minute without any consequences, I believe there would still be personal benefits to committing. 

Commitment helps us pursue our There. Without a clear end goal, there is no need to commit to a plan to get There. But then that leaves us purposelessly drifting from one aim to the next, never landing anywhere long enough to find fulfillment or grow in an area. We find purpose through accomplishing what we set out to do. 

It Strengthens Character

When you commit, you agree to finish what you started, even when it gets hard. It is all too easy to quit in the Pit when things get tough. But commitment forces you to stick it out and grow through the process. Even if you could get away with quitting, it would still be better for your character and growth to stick it out and discover the satisfaction that comes from persevering through difficulties. 

Commitment requires discipline and hard work, but it is worth it to build trust, develop purpose, and strengthen character. If we want to be people of our word that others know they can trust, we have to be people who commit. 

Gracie McBride is the Content and Systems Coordinator at The Crossroad.