“Whatever” Sucks – Commitment Rocks

How might your life change if you truly, deeply committed to every decision you made?

Have you noticed that more and more people are trying to skate by with a lack of commitment to anything? Rather than thinking, deciding and committing, many seem to take what they think is the easy way out – avoiding, procrastinating and riding the fence.

The other day my soon-to-be ex-girlfriend dishonored me with a cowardly “whatever” in response to a suggestion I made. “Whatever” really pisses me off. “Whatever” comes across as: “I’m not willing to expend the energy to tell you whether I agree with you or not – you aren’t worth the respect of a considered reply.”

If that’s the case, why not have the guts to simply say so instead of hiding behind the cowardly non-commitment of whatever?

How many of your decisions are made with the no-turning-back determination and commitment of a Viking crew burning their boat?

A decision is a position one reaches after consideration.
A commitment is a pledged course of action that carries the strength of a guarantee.
Yet a commitment is only as good as the decision that preceded it.
When decisions are reached without determination and consideration they are too weak to benefit from the engagement of commitment.
How might your life change if considered every decision and committed deeply to them?
Certainly you’d fail less by being truly committed more often. When we have difficulty keeping our promises to ourselves we often look to make productivity adjustments. But the core issue may go deeper than that. Perhaps productivity and performance problems do not stem from a lack of discipline or accountability. Perhaps the core issue is the decision that preceded the commitment.
Thoughtful consideration and considered, sacred committing every time would result in making far fewer commitments and following-through on far more of them.

There are only two options regarding commitment. You’re either in or out. There’s no such thing as a life in-between. Pat Riley

I wish we all had the benefit of being coached by Mr. Riley. Then so many of us wouldn’t act like there was a third option – indecision.
The failure to make a decision often expends more energy than the work it takes to follow through on one.

When making a career change many are afraid of making the wrong choice. But what we really ought to be afraid of is wasting our lives putting off decisions we know we need to make.

It’s impossible to commit to an unmade decision.

We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same. Carlos Castaneda

As an advocate of work life freedom and happiness through authentic expression, I often see people hesitate to make their move. They hesitate for many reasons but what really stops them is a failure to definitely commit.

There’s no scarcity of opportunity to make a living at what you love. There is only a scarcity of resolve to make it happen. Wayne Dyer

Committing to an original and magnificent dream is a very courageous decision. It’s no less courageous than committing to a lifetime with one man or one woman. Yet this commitment is between your authentic self, and your pledge on how you will serve the world.

Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got. Janis Joplin

You might ask, how do I find that level of courage? The answer is practice and increased awareness. Do practice telling the truth to yourself about yourself. Make decisions and follow through on every one of them both large and small. Raise your awareness of all the options when deciding. Practice by telling people what you really think of their suggestions. Say no thank you, more often when that’s really what you want. By strengthening our commitment muscle on the little decisions we are more apt to be strong when it really counts.

Strength is a matter of the made-up mind. John Beecher

Here’s the kicker. We all are waffling on something. Our conditioning is to avoid conflict and we mistakenly think we can put off essential decisions. We cannot. We may think that we are can avoid committing by putting off deciding. But we’re fooling ourselves. What we really want is to stand up and follow-through.

What commitment do you most need to make today?


  1. Tim Brownson says:

    Tom when I used to play soccer I would frequently hear coaches say something along the lines of “You have to commit to a tackle. If you go in half-heartedly you think you’re reducing the risk of injury when the reality is you’re probably going to get your leg broken”

    That’s a great metaphor for life.

    Tim Brownsons last blog post..The Cure To An Average Life

  2. I think commitment is one of the hardest things to do in life. There’s a lot we can accomplish if we simply make a commitment to do whatever it takes. It’s the daily grit and persistence that is the hard part, I think.

  3. Jon persisting gets easier when the decision is made in full consideration and consciousness. I think what makes it difficult is heaping too much on the plate that we haven’t truly considered the consequences of.

    Tim I can certainly relate the that as a rugby player. You can’t play scared. It’s interesting how in both life and sports “tackling well” involves following all the way through with gusto.

    Tom Volkar / Delightful Works last blog post..“Whatever” Sucks – Commitment Rocks

  4. I don’t like the term “Whatever” either. If you mean no say no. If you mean yes, say yes. Be honest with your words and emotions.

    My husband and I have been married for almost 36 years (on August 25). We didn’t stay married by not being committed to the marriage and to each other. Relationships without committment don’t last. You have to be committed to make it through the hard times. Relationships take work to stay good and to grow strong. Committment is worth the effort.

  5. I think the most important part here is making the decision in “full consciousness.” Although full consciousness is rarely where we are.

    Commitment is absolutely essential to creating anything. I have to say, though, that there is also the unpleasant flip side to being fully commitment – the ability to let go of something that isn’t working or serving us. Sometimes, “stick-to-itiveness” is the last thing we need. It takes just as much courage to fully and consciously change our minds sometimes as it does to commit.


  6. Monika Mundell says:

    Hi Tom,

    I can relate to your article because I have been in the position to make many excuses to myself before I took a long hard look at why I was consistently coming short of my own promises to myself.

    Only when I stopped and analyzed my failure in getting things done, did I realize it was because firstly, I wasn’t 100% committed and second, I tried to bite too big chunks at the time.

    I learned a huge lesson back then and the result is 100% commitment to what I do now which has resulted in being deliriously happy to boost.

    All it took was to stop and look deeper. BTW, loved Wayne Dyer’s quote, it sums it all up.

    BTW, I’m with the ladies here. Clean the slate with your GF before she reads this, it might not go down so well otherwise, LOL 🙂

  7. Nathalie Lussier says:

    Wow, this is so true. We are all waffling on something. Personally when I am ambivalent I don’t get the results I hoped for. But if I really commit and take action, things radically transform!

    I’m loving it, thanks for the great reminder!

  8. I think the trick is to say “no” to more things and when you say “yes” really mean it. I love the analogy of vikings burning down their boat. And um, I hope your girlfriend doesn’t read your blog (or else she’s on notice that her days are numbered 🙂 ).

    Marelisas last blog post..How to Be Happy

  9. Evelyn Lim says:

    My husband and I do not use the word “whatever’ to each other, except once or twice in an argument. I totally agree with your explanation. It connotes a lack of responsibility, a non-desire to expend energy. I expressedly forbid my kids to use it too! Too many kids, I find, are using it to get out of a difficult situation.

    Evelyn Lims last blog post..Raise Awareness; Release Guilt

  10. Hi Tom – That is hilarious because my ex started to say whatever a lot too, just before I kicked him out.

    I´m with Mare on this one though – I think you´ve got to make that decision and say au revoir´, incase she reads your blog first.

  11. Hi Tom,

    What do we have if we don’t make a commitment to something. Although I’m a thinker and analyzer, I do look at something from all sides before committing. (if it’s major). Once I commit, there’s no looking back.

    I’ve gotta wonder, too. Is the soon to be ex, reading this?

    Barbara Swaffords last blog post..Interview With Lorelle VanFossen – Part 9- A Recap Plus A Bonus

  12. Brett Legree says:

    Hi Tom,

    I finally made it back over here today to do more than just read, after comparing pictures of burning boats 🙂

    I am amazed at just how many great and inspirational posts you have here – I think I’ll make a pot of tea, and take a break from burning boats, to figure out even better ways to set them ablaze.

    Seriously, though, just about everything I’ve read here is confirmation – I’m just finishing up a two week vacation, and rather than getting me rested and ready to go back to work and be a happy little employee, it’s got me rested and ready to go back to work and do my job and at the same time do whatever it takes to break free.

    Thanks for the words – Brett

    Brett Legrees last blog post..dog food.

  13. Brett Legree says:


    Thank you for saying that, and you’re welcome too – I’ll be linking to you in future, you can bet on that – so much here of great value.

    I’m working on about 4 different things right now, which may sound like a lot to some, but in a crazy way they all are linked and work together in my “master plan”. When I sat down and did a mind-map, it all made sense.

    I plan to have the first phase launched by the end of September this year. Then more to follow in 2009.

    I spent some time looking for work in my current field. And then, after a few chats with a colleague who is also a close friend, and spending much time reflecting, the best use of my time away from “day job” and family/friends will be my own “project freedom”.

    Thanks again – Brett

    Brett Legrees last blog post..dog food.

  14. Tom,
    I come to you from Brett. And he was right, this is a kick ass post.

    I think I like your phrase, “we are all waflling on something” the best. It we have a sail that is flapping to and fro….that boat will not get us anywhere we want to go.

    Thanks for such a noticably heartfelt take on committment.
    All best,

  15. Patricia your marriage is a wonderful testimony to the power of definitely committing. Happy Anniversary!

    Andrea isn’t it interesting that full consciousness is rarely where we are but exactly where we need to be to decide well? I’m aware that we need to also know when to walk away but in my experience that’s far less frequent of a challenge.

    Marelisa saying no more often definitely clears the deck so we have the energy and focus to say yes when it counts.

    All who have inquired regarding my soon-to-be ex-girlfriend, fear not. She is well aware of her current status AND has never shown an interest in reading my blog. There’s a status choice for ones current relationship on one of the social networking sites that aptly describes where we are right now. “It’s complicated.”

    Cath you returned the favor. I laughed out loud at your example. 🙂 We ought to put “whatever” in a blog post. Telltale Signs that Your Relationship is Near Death.

    Monika that’s quite the personal productivity adjustment you made. “Bite of smaller chunks and commit to them all the way.”

    Nathalie welcome, yes determination and dedication don’t fit so well with ambivalent. Truly committing does lead to radically different results.

    Evelyn I’m so happy to hear that you call your kids on using whatever. I do as well with my kids and they’re in their twenties. In fact I’m calling everyone on it no.

    Barbara I think in this case the analyzer may have the upper hand. Us compulsive shoot-from-the-hip types often say yes to too much without enough forethought.

    Janice welcome, Brett who? I’m not sure whop you are referring to but please thank him for me. Have you identified what you’re waffling on?

  16. Brett Legree. 6weeks. He has a link to your post in his post today.

    Was waffling on. Not so much anymore. Your post served as a reminder to stay the course on a recent decision. In execution, I do not want to waffle there.

    So touchstones become very helpful. 🙂

    I like your site.

    Janice Cartiers last blog post..Beginner’s Mind

  17. Janice, thanks so much. I’m glad you like it. Come back often. It’s my goal to create a community of freedom-seekers and freedom-revelers here at Delightful Work.

    Brett hey man, that means a lot coming from you. You are quite the inspiration in your own right. Thanks so much for the mention in your post today. Any time table for you freedom day?

  18. I have been known to use the phrase “Whatever!” I tend to use it when I know I am being lied to or being given phony excuses and don’t want to go there with them. Probably not the best choice but I default to it when I don’t want to get into an argument.

  19. Brett Legree says:


    It is nice to hear that from someone like yourself (someone who’s burned the boat) – when I hit an obstacle in one area, I can do something else for a while until I know what to do to get past that obstacle. Or maybe just to be able to take a break, so as to stay fresh and focused. I am in the middle of Project Blastoff right now and I will definitely let you know how it goes – I know it will be quite valuable.

    Thanks again – Brett

    Brett Legrees last blog post..viking fridays – the worst sickness.

  20. For me, commitment is easy when I have peace about the decision. It is a peace—and a knowing—that I cannot readily explain, but it is tangible for me. Perhaps many of us (including me) are searching for whatever we are searching for and get sidetracked from ==NOW==this moment==today.

    “Whatever” to me, is the same as “Nothing” when someone says something and you say, What did you say? and they respond, “Nothing.”
    The only positive is that we always do have a choice about our reaction–and how we respond– and how to expend our energy.
    I agree, commitment is imperative. It’s all about what is really important…and our courage to tell the truth.

  21. Brett four things at once are okay and even preferred for some of us. Some of us need the freedom to move from project to project so that we are always eagerly present. I think the folks who say to only focus on one thing at a time have a different makeup than we do. Be sure to tell me how useful Project Blastoff was for you.

    Laurie I can see where your use of whatever could end the conversation. It probably works because the other party doesn’t want to go there either. Next time why not just tell it like it is and say you don’t want to argue.

    Susan it sounds like the peace you arrive at in those decision came as a result of consideration. You’re right that “nothing” carries the same empty weight of non-engagement. Welcome to Delightful Work and please come back.

  22. that “viking burning the boat” analogy had me seriously sit down and think about how committed i am to a couple of recent decisions.

    it made me realize why i’ve been not doing so well in one area (which i’ll share soon)…..and it also made me seriously consider how committed i am to this new endeavor where i’m working out with a personal trainer. (there was a day where i seriously considered not going….already! but after making a commitment, i had a schedule change and couldn’t make my normal time one day. know what i did? i made arrangements to go at 6 a.m. yep.)

    you definitely got me thinking.
    all the best!

    debs last blog post..doing things differently

  23. Jarrod - Warrior Development says:

    I use ‘whatever’ and ‘either way’ rather often from day to day simply because people do talk about so many things that have little matter.

    Then again when a decision does actually have to be made I act totally opposite and go all out. I endeavour not to change my mind or think any more on a decision unless new information comes to light.

    Jarrod – Warrior Developments last blog post..Embracing Hardship: Cold Shower Please

  24. Deb you are not alone. It’s got me thinking as well. We often teach what we need to learn, right? In my endless quest for fresh project energy I can make decisions impulsively so it’s always good to go back and apply the burning boat standard to them.

    Jarrod I sensed that you were an all out kind of guy. You sound strong in your resolve.

  25. Hello,
    Googling ‘committment’ I came across your site which has been an interesting read.
    I have recently come to the awareness that I’m a commitmentphobe which has held me back from commitments in all sorts of areas of my life. I now think that, like so many other paradoxes in life, the more you commit, the freer you become, whereas I have spent my life unconsciously acting out the reverse.
    A wonderful lady, a professional storyteller e-mailed me this recently; it is inspired by Goethe, from a mountaineer’s book:

    …. 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 unforseen incidents and
    meetings and material assistance …….

    As to the word ‘whatever’ – here it’s become a catch phrase mainly attributed to a certain type of young person. My son used it the other day (yikes and he’s a scholarship Cambridge university student!) for the first time. I had something to say about that! He backtracked fast, something about being tired!

  26. Hi Penny welcome to Delightful Work. Your paradox about commitment and freedom is spot on. Now that you’ve recognized that you are free to commit less and honor them all. Yes I love that Goethe quote, it’s beyond inspiring.

  27. I realize this is an old thread, but another take on this…Sometimes saying “whatever” is the most authentic response, because that’s how the other person is feeling in that moment. Also, your reality of “whatever” may be different than her’s. Did you ask her why she used the word? She may have an entirely different take on it, and her intention may have been completely different than the one you assigned her.

  28. Hi Heather, welcome. I guess “whatever’ could be authentic but there is no mistaking the resigned tone of voice that I heard in the given example above. Your suggestion to ask is a good one. Unfortunately by that time the relationship had deteriorated to the point of no return. Good advice to give the benefit of the doubt though.

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