I recently read about the levels of guilt associated with telling the whole truth vs. telling a lie vs. telling a half-truth. Interesting idea, I know…
Now, if one were to venture a guess, most of us would say that the liars felt the worst, the half-truth tellers felt a little better than the straight up liars and the truth tellers slept like babies with a clean conscience.
You’d be half right. It turns out that telling a half-truth, for example saying you were only 10 minutes late when in fact you were 20, makes you feel worse than if you’d told the whole truth. More interestingly, those who committed fully to the lie, for example asserting that they were not late at all, felt just as good as those who told the truth! It was the half-truth tellers that suffered the emotional fallout of guilt. So if you’re going to lie, go all in. And if you’re going to tell the truth, tell the whole truth! Obviously, I am a strong advocate for the truth. Lies always have a way of coming home to roost. And if you tell enough lies, you eventually lose track of them. Hence, the truth will be revealed. But what is interesting here is that those who fully committed to their lie suffered very little emotional fallout!
Perhaps you’ve heard these adages:
In for a penny, in for a pound.
As well hanged for a sheep as a lamb.
Go big or go home.
They all come down to the same basic idea, commit fully if you commit at all. If you’re going to take a risk, you may as well take a big risk! If the punishment is the same for stealing a sheep as a lamb, go big and steal the sheep! A recent study on cohabitation concluded that after five to seven years, 79 percent of couples who lived together without committing to marriage split up. Even though divorce rates are abysmally high, they are nowhere near 79%!
There is wisdom in committing completely. When a commitment is fully made you invest your time and energy, you plan your life around these priorities that you have identified. Commitments require real effort, monitoring and future planning. In a way, commitments are like children. Would you ever bring a child into the world and then change your mind about caring for it?
I am 100% committed to the most important people in my life, but in the day to day, words I am all too familiar with are “over-committed” and “over-scheduled.” I know I am far from the only person who has this issue. Over promising my time and energy leads to things not getting the full attention and focus that they deserve. Ultimately, it’s not good for you or for the projects/people that you made promises to.
It may come as a surprise to you that some of the most productive people have empty schedules. In 1991, Warren Buffett met Bill Gates and shared a secret with Gates. He opened his black leather planner and revealed that almost all the pages were blank. It sounds counter-intuitive, however, a highly productive person commits to ONLY what is important to them and their goals. They know that over-committing or trying to take on too much will only stall them. They simply don’t agree to do things that are not part of their core mission or emotionally imperative for their relationships. They say ‘no’. However, when they say ‘yes’ they are powerhouses because they have the time and reserves to commit vigorously! (I had a major victory on that front this week, super productive with a very sparsely scheduled calendar.)
I saw this saying the other day and I have to share:
“Never put off what you can straight up cancel.”
It’s meant to be humorous, of course, but there is real truth to the sentiment. There is a rising school of thought that encourages radical, total commitment to a task during productive work hours — much like surgeons in an operating room. It’s been proven that doing so not only increases job performance, but job satisfaction, too. I can promise you that while I was in labor with my children I did not email, text or answer any phone calls. Can you imagine someone going in for a triple bypass, and midway through the surgery the doctor decides to take a tea break and go for some fresh air? Or better yet, while operating, gets a text message and replies to it? OF COURSE NOT. Now, imagine employing that same ethic to your goals.
Like half-truths, half-commitments end up making us feel emotionally drained and we end up in a place I call the ‘almost’ – a place that we’ve all been, a land of good enough, close enough and comfortable. Many of us are living in the almost in some area of our lives. The secret to fulfillment is eradicating the almost and fully committing ourselves to what we set out to accomplish. We will never be happy until we are fully committed and striving towards our real, unique purpose. When we commit to the wrong things, or commit to nothing, we find ourselves in our ‘almost’ which is a dangerous place because there is no pressure to push ourselves forward – it feels comfortable, it feels good enough.
Imagine training for a marathon, which if you didn’t know, is 26.2 miles. At the 22nd mile, would you say to yourself, ‘Wow. I’ve run 22 miles, that’s pretty good. I’m almost done. Maybe I should stop now’?
No! You invested all that time and energy, you are going to go to the 26.2 mile mark. After all that effort you are not going to allow yourself to ‘almost’ finish a marathon. Why are you allowing yourself to live in the ‘almost’ anywhere else in your life?
Thought Into Action
Identify an area of your life where you are a little too comfortable, where things are not as you would want them to be, but they aren’t bad. You’ve just identified an ‘almost’ area.
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