“You really don’t have to burn any bridges to let go… You don’t have to destroy anything. You can just decide to cross over and move on.” —Marta Mrotek
How can commitment be a curse? If anything, it seems like we need more people with the moral fortitude to make a vow and stick with it. But just because we’ve made a commitment to something doesn’t mean it’s set in stone – or our feet are encased in concrete. Sometimes a good idea runs its’ course or new information reveals it wasn’t such a great idea after all. Consider some of these examples from product marketing of the past:
- Crystal Pepsi: For some reason, Pepsi decided cola should be clear like a lemon-lime soda, but still taste like a cola. Huh? Consumers were confused, disappointed and down-right grossed out and the lack of sales proved it. PepsiCo killed Crystal Pepsi in 1993 after only a year. Oddly enough, the pre-market data showed this new “cola” would be a flop but the team was committed to the launch.
- Singles: Gerber’s Goes Adult: What adult doesn’t love the convenience of baby-food in a jar? After all it’s portable, pureed, and nutritionally sound – and made for a baby! But did anyone really think this would be marketable to college students and young adults who were short on time and cooking skills? Apparently someone did and Gerber Singles was launched – and died – in 1974.
These examples seem silly now but I doubt the people who came up with them were stupid – they truly must have fallen into the category of “Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time.” If we’re honest, I imagine we’ve all made a lot of decisions and commitments over the course of our lives that also fall into that category.
For example, do you know anyone (not you, of course) who has overstayed their welcome in a job because it was comfortable or easy? Maybe got attached to the benefits, commute or other perks while relevance passed you by? It’s a balancing act, for sure, to understand when it’s better for your career to follow a new technology, or when the current demands of your family life require that you slow things down.
Often we stay in relationships for similar reasons or because we fear the unknown, even when we know it isn’t healthy for us or anyone else. Or stay the course on the major we selected in school even though it’s boring us to tears and we know we will never be happy in that profession. Sometimes the justifications sound something like “so much has been invested” or “it’s too late now to turn back.” These excuses are often painfully revisited many years later when we realize that nothing has changed.
People who value commitment, loyalty and responsibility have a hard time understanding that some ideas or scenarios may be part of our history, but have no place in our future. It can cause us to turn a blind eye to reality and view a situation through the lens of what we wish it could be, not how it truly is. Now, don’t get me wrong, I wholeheartedly believe in keeping your promises – anyone who knows me well knows I am a committer with a capital C! But experience and wisdom has showed me that sometimes a change is needed; the decision to take a new direction should be carefully considered and all the impacts weighed before making a move. The more difficult the change or the farther-reaching the impact, you should seek the insight and input of some trusted advisors.
I love this quote by Steve Maraboli: “Why let go of yesterday? Because yesterday has already let go of you.” What this says to me is that it is ok – and actually wise – to re-evaluate once in a while if something is still working for me. Am I still challenged by my work, has compromise crept into my friendships, have my most important commitments gone stale… and if so, let go.
Pattie Vargas, Principal and Founder, The Vargas Group, is a frequent conference speaker on the topics of change management, organizational development, personal resilience and issues facing women in the workplace. As a John Maxwell Certified Coach, Teacher and Speaker, she provides seminars, keynote speaking, and coaching to move you and/or your team or organization in the desired direction to reach your goals.
Proprietary Communication 2016