The Mystical Power of Commitment
An exploration of the dance between intention and manifestation, between will and devotion, and the radical magic we can invoke through conscious choice
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets: Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!” - William Hutchison Murray
This has been my favourite quote since 2011.
That’s nine years of devotion, which, for a quote addict such as myself, is something of a marvel. The funny thing about it is that for the majority of those nine years I didn’t really understand why it held me in thrall every time I read it — I only knew that the underlying mystery behind committed intention gave me goosebumps.
And then over the course of the last few years, I developed an increasing curiosity about it. What is it, what does it evoke in me, what are the implications of it, how does it work? The word gets thrown around a lot in the context of goal achievement but the depth of this practice goes way beyond that.
Slowly but surely the quote began to reveal the core of its message, the foundation upon which the rest is based; the internal shift that makes the magic happen.
Commitment, it turns out, is a mystical force.
And for those of you who don’t think that’s insanely hot in and of itself, it’s also a doorway to life mastery. But seeing how we live in a multi-layered reality where both the energetic field and the material plane collaborate to create our experience, there are practical principles that need to be applied in order for that mystical force to kick in.
In this article I’m going to unpack what is exactly commitment is, how to use the Hell-Yes-Or-No principle to get radically aligned with what you want and three action steps to get you started.
Commitment Versus Decisions
A decision is defined as “a conclusion or resolution reached after consideration”. Commitment is defined as “the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc”.
In other words, a decision is merely a thought, the conclusion of a cognitive process. A commitment is a state of being — a state no less, of dedication (which, to continue our exploration of the English language, is defined as “being devoted to a task or purpose; having single-minded loyalty or integrity”).
Dedication, devotion, loyalty, integrity.
Pretty powerful concepts. Concepts that connect us to the root of who we are, what we believe in, what we stand for. Commitment therefore, is an intoxicating shortcut to some of the most profound states we can experience.
Commitment Versus Discipline
Discipline,“a way of behaving that shows a willingness to obey rules or orders,” has long been touted as a desirable and commendable quality; something to be rigorously pursued in the name of self-betterment.
The thing about discipline is that unless the thing we’re using it for brings us consistent joy, we will at some point tire of the battle to engage and maintain our willpower.
Willpower is an outward moving force, a pushing force. It’s great for short periods of action but using it every day without rest is eventually going to become draining.
Commitment on the other hand, is a pulling force, drawing us forward through our love of that which we have chosen to devote ourselves to — it is love that beckons us to take one step, another step.
Commitment and discipline may sometimes achieve the same results but the quality of each is intrinsically different, and in my experience being pulled forwards is infinitely more pleasant than pushing.
Commitment and Devotion
Here’s where it gets really interesting. Devotion, “love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person, activity, or cause”, is an incredibly potent state. It is to give oneself entirely, with every fibre of one’s being, to the object of our focus.
It is a humbling sensation, to act from devotion; it opens us even more fully to love, to life — to the beauty in our endeavours, to the honour and worthiness of that which we create. That kind of attention is powerful.
Like, really powerful.
It’s the kind of attention, which, when harnessed and skilfully directed, can be used to complete seemingly impossible tasks; the kind of attention that finds solutions where before there were none, that invites game-changing insights, that creates miracles.
It is uncompromising dedication.
And with uncompromising dedication comes something else — unwavering trust. Because when we give ourselves up completely to devotion, there is no space for fear. There is only the clear path of what must be done. As Tony Robbins says, “Your shoulds have to become musts”.
Clarity, simplicity, focus. These are some of the inevitable side-effects of commitment.
And devotion itself is what brings us the feeling of fulfilment that we are all searching for — because the truth of it, as they say, is that it’s not what you do but how you do it. Living in this quality of devoted surrender is the most transformational practice there is.
There is a deep and powerful reason that we are drawn to the things we’re drawn to. It is often something we can’t logically explain, something we can’t justify intellectually. The things that whisper to us hold wisdom for us that will only make sense when we look back, long after we said yes and followed the call.
Listening to the deepest desires within us is a giant YES to life, a surrendering to ourselves, to life. It opens the doorway to the mystery in a way nothing else does — because our inspired action is the creative intelligence of the universe pulsing through us, living us.
And we live in times of abundant (sometimes overwhelming) choice. What this means is that we must become specific — we have to practice listening to the loudest desires and following those (to the exclusion of others). A helpful way of doing this is to filter your Hell Yes’s through your priorities.
This is especially important for life enthusiasts such as myself, who can get (very) excited about a great many things. If we don’t choose some over others….we end up either not doing much, or trying to do too many things at the same time (and overcommitting is damaging both for ourselves and for others involved).
“You can get your time and your life under control only to the degree to which you discontinue lower-value activities.”- Brian Tracy
Hell yes or no means saying yes only to those things that light us on fire so that we’re consumed by the thought of them.
It means being radical about saying No to things that might sound good but don’t feel completely “right” or don’t turn us on — this requires listening to the gut/heart and not the head. It means saying no to people who aren’t right and letting those who aren’t (or are no longer) a Hell Yes go. It means saying No to some projects in order to dedicate ourselves to others.
In every moment we’re creating our lives through the choices we make. HYON can be applied to all aspects of life;
- Activities (What do you most want to do with the time you have left? Make it count)
- Work (An opportunity that sounds great but feels meh will not lead to joy. Dare to say No)
- People (You are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with — are the main people in your life helping or hindering your being the person you want to be? Do you have a Hell Yes for them?)
- Speaking (Are you really, deeply interested in what you’re saying? Does it feel alive, energised?)
Saying No, especially to things that look good in theory, can be daunting at first. We worry that another opportunity/person won’t come along, that we’ll regret not doing it, that people will think badly of us. Now I’m not going to lie — people get triggered by radical choices. It brings up their own mediocre decisions, and that’s uncomfortable.
But ultimately your opinion of you is more important than anyone else’s, and in being uncompromising with your integrity you set the bar higher for everyone in your environment.
It’s become my favourite thing. Saying No (consciously, from love rather than fear) is self-affirming, self-loving, empowering clarity.
There might be a gap between saying no (and getting specific about what you want) and the next opportunity (more closely tailored to your desires) coming into your life. Don’t panic; nature abhors a vacuum — create space and it will be filled. The more clarity you have around what you want it to be filled with the better.
How Do You Want To Feel?
All of us want to feel happy, right? We’re all chasing a feeling but often not paying that much attention to what produces it within us, and instead falling back onto the perceived wisdom of what works (hint: we’re individuals for a reason. What turns you on is going to be different to what turns some else on).
Joseph Campbell said, “We’re looking for an experience of being alive.”
When we say yes only to things that turn us on and light us up, we feel amazing. HYON is a visceral inner response; it’s a high-value state in which we feel present, alive, energised, connected to awe, wonder, and the beauty of life. Spending time in this state is the most powerful way to uplevel your experience of life.
And a wonderful side-effect of spending time there is that we raise our standards.
So many people spend a lot of time in a mediocre state. This (quite logically) leads to mediocre decisions, actions, and a “meh” experience of life. As we begin to spend more time feeling juiced and energised and on fire, it starts to become our new normal.
Laser Sharp Clarity
Another awesome side-effect is increased clarity. When we consistently choose only things that feel completely aligned with our deepest core, those core values and passions become more and more embodied.
This effectively means that we begin to represent on the outside what we feel to be true on the inside — our true self becomes stronger and stronger, more and more tangible.
And in a wonderful positive spiral, this leads to even greater clarity. It also means we gain energetic integrity and alignment.
It also means that, because we’re saying No to more things, we have more space to focus on the things we really want to do. And focus is gold. Focus is a gateway to transcendent states of awareness, which not only feel amazing and fulfilling, but invite in wisdom from a different level of consciousness.
So all in all, practicing HYON brings about massive shifts in the way you approach your entire life; you raise your standards and you create a transformative shift in your quality of life.
And it’s all just about choices.
Make them consciously and your life will take a dramatic turn towards the extraordinary.
Action 1: Start practicing HYON; what areas in your life are you good at it, where less good? Are there projects/goals/relationships you want to let go of? (don’t be afraid to be radical — you’re building clarity)
Action 2: Get clear on your top three priorities (what percentage of time are you according to each every week), the Why, and commit — what does that look like (vision, ideas)?
Action 3: Examine your systems and habits; are they in line with your priorities and commitments (implementing the vision/ideas)?