Excellent results are never accidental. Without commitment, our creative powers are scattered and our ability to attract support and resources dries up. Of course, it’s possible, as millions of people demonstrate, to go through life getting by without ever committing deeply to anything much at all. 

In their insightful book, Money Drunk, Money Sober, Julia Cameron and Mark Bryan call money (and money difficulties) the last addiction. They identify five kinds of money dysfunction, including one they call the Maintenance Money Drunk. This is a person who grows increasingly bitter or numb from the inability to pursue or even identify their dreams.

They write, “One of the telltale symptoms of the Maintenance Money Drunk is the phrase ‘I’m going to,’ heard over and over again without action toward the goal. We often say that the greatest gift of solvency is learning how to turn a wish into a goal. And action is the difference between someone who is really going to do something and someone who is just wishing.” They offer these familiar examples:

“I’m going to write a book.” So write one page a day.

“I’m going back to school.” So call the local college.

“I’m going to be an actor.” So take a monologue class.

It’s exhausting to be a Maintenance Money Drunk and it’s exhausting to be around one. Commitment is the catalyst that propels us to take action—and break the cycle of apathy that keeps us stuck.

I’ve written about this before, but it’s worth mentioning again because it’s an essential power tool for building dreams. There’s a foolproof test for commitment that goes beyond any verbal claims of commitment: look at your calendar and your checkbook. Are you spending your time and money in ways that back up what you’re truly committed to? It’s only when you bring your spending into alignment with your dreams that good things begin to happen.  

If commitment is an on-again off-again thing for you, or if you recoil from the notion altogether, I’d like to suggest you adopt an idea from the no-nonsense Barbara Sher. She asks her students to make “a temporary permanent commitment.” The brilliance of Sher’s idea is that she reminds us that making a commitment doesn’t mean we’re stuck forever with the things we’ve committed to. For many of us, that’s a huge relief. 

When we make a temporary permanent commitment, we give it our all for a limited period of time. I like the idea of dividing our dreams into 90 Day Projects where we focus on making progress in small, manageable ways day after day. During this time, immerse—don’t dabble. Treat it as a permanent commitment. At the end of the 90 days, take inventory. Want to keep going? Or have you had enough? If the answer is, “I’ve had enough,” then design projects for the next 90 days. And so on and so on and so on.

Commitment gives us direction, but it doesn’t guarantee ease. As Paulo Coehlo so eloquently reminds us, “Too often we decide to follow a path that is not really our own, one that others have set for us. We forget that whichever way we go, the price is the same: in both cases we will pass through both difficult and happy moments. But when we are living our dream, the difficulties that we encounter make sense.”

Time to Get Unstuck?

Three upcoming teleclasses can help you do just that. 

Need ideas? Join Alice Barry and me for Better than Brainstorming, Wednesday, February 18, 8-9:30 PM Eastern. 

Stopped by resistance? Learn techniques for dealing with it in Outsmarting Resistance, Monday, February 23, 8-9:30 PM Eastern.

Marketing scare you? You’re not alone. I Hate Marketing will show you some new approaches that make marketing fun. No kidding. Wednesday, February 25, 8-9:30 PM Eastern. 

Can’t attend in person? Register and you’ll receive an audio download.