The Commitment to Move Forward

Learn the differences between thinking about doing something and actually committing to your plan. Karen Kahn Wilson, Ed. teaches how to apply yourself to become successful at getting what you really want.

Health and Well Being

All roads contain some bumps and potholes that are frustrating. “I really want to make the calls to those job ads,” a woman said, “but I just can’t get myself to do it.” She, like others in similar circumstances, was perplexed by her behavior. On the one hand she knew that she wanted to change her life: she really wanted a new job. Yet when it came down to making the telephone calls necessary to begin the job-search process, she couldn’t find the motivation to act.

There is a difference between wanting something and having a commitment to a particular action. This is an important distinction that can impact the success of your plan. Wants stem from emotions: they tend to fluctuate and change with time and circumstances. They may reflect trends, styles, popular opinion, or mood. Even your most passionate wants can be nebulous, making it difficult to know exactly why you want or don’t want something. Commitments, on the other hand, are the most fundamental parts of who you are. They are your values, your ideals, the guiding principles that define the directions of your life. Commitments are foundational parts of the personality.

Goals that are based on wants or preferences tend to be easy to abandon. Actions that are based upon fundamental commitments have a lasting vitality. People are driven to engage in actions that reflect their commitments, as these deeds are consistent with their overall life direction and purpose. Understanding how your goals and plans fit with your major life commitments will provide you a powerful context for your transformational journey. It will provide meaning, purpose, and mission to all that you aim to do. When you act in accordance with your commitments, the following phrase will describe your preaction attitude: “These actions are so important to me that I am willing to do whatever it takes to make them happen. I am absolutely and completely committed to engaging in the plan that I have created and to claiming my visions because completing this journey will allow me to live the life I want to live and become the person that I passionately want to be.”

Commitment requires that you know what you value. Most people take their values for granted and have difficulty articulating them. Robert Fritz observes that people’s “fundamental choices” (values) are usually “to be free, to be healthy, and to be true to oneself” (1984, 190). While these are certainly important attributes, women often articulate them slightly differently:

  • Financial freedom and independence
  • Loving, deep partnership
  • A healthy, vibrant mind and body
  • A comfortable lifestyle, including travel and a lovely home
  • A close, supportive family
  • Intellectual and cultural opportunities
  • The pursuit of a spiritual path
  • Involvement in a supportive community
  • Stature
  • Service to the greater world community
  • And more


This article has been edited and excerpted from the book Transformational Divorce with permission by New Harbinger Publications, Inc. Transformational Divorce, copyright © 2003, Karen Kahn Wilson, Ed.D is an executive/personal coach and licensed clinical psychologist who is committed to helping women maintain a positive and constructive focus in their lives. She has worked with hundreds of divorced women, helping them to see the challenges of relationships as “cycles” of potential growth. Dr. Wilson maintains a successful executive, personal and divorce coaching practice with clients throughout the US and internationally. Click Transformational Divorce for more info.

Other articles by Karen Kahn Wilson, Ed, D.


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