A semicircle commitment meter, with green low, yellow medium, and red high levels. Arrow points all the way to the top of high.

The root of “commitment” is about joining with others, engaging, giving your trust, sending with a purpose. To be committed is to be dedicated to a purpose, cause, or action. Commitment usually takes faithfulness, dedication, and persistence. To fail in one’s commitment is to be false, a traitor, unfaithful. While you can make commitments to yourself, a commitment is usually a part of a relationship, and is what makes relationships stronger.

Here are some quotes from the well known and lesser known about the nature and value of commitment:

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In life, many thoughts are born in the course of a moment, an hour, a day. Some are dreams, some visions. Often, we are unable to distinguish between them. To some, they are the same; however, not all dreams are visions. Much energy is lost in fanciful dreams that never bear fruit. But visions are messages from the Great Spirit, each for a different purpose in life. Consequently, one person’s vision may not be that of another. To have a vision, one must be prepared to receive it, and when it comes, to accept it. Thus when these inner urges become reality, only then can visions be fulfilled. The spiritual side of life knows everyone’s heart and who to trust. How could a vision ever be given to someone to harbor if that person could not be trusted to carry it out. The message is simple: commitment precedes vision.

— High Eagle

Commitment means that it is possible for a man to yield the nerve center of his consent to a purpose or cause, a movement or an ideal, which may be more important to him than whether he lives or dies.

— Howard Thurman

Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.

— James Baldwin

Those that are most slow in making a promise are the most faithful in the performance of it.

— Jean Jacques Rousseau

Commitment is an act, not a word.

— Jean-Paul Sartre

Only you and I can help the sun rise each coming morning. If we don’t, it may drench itself out in sorrow.

— Joan Baez

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 to one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance. Whatever you can do or dream you can begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

— Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

At times it seems as if arranging to have no commitment of any kind to anyone would be a special freedom. But in fact the whole idea works in reverse. The most deadly commitment of all is to be committed only to one’s self. Some come to realize this after they are in the nursing home.

— John D. MacDonald

Take a long, hard look down the road you will have to travel once you have made a commitment to work for change. Know that this transformation will not happen right away. Change often takes time. It rarely happens all at once. In the movement, we didn’t know how history would play itself out. When we were getting arrested and waiting in jail or standing in unmovable lines on the courthouse steps, we didn’t know what would happen, but we knew it had to happen.

Use the words of the movement to pace yourself. We used to say that ours is not the struggle of one day, one week, or one year. Ours is not the struggle of one judicial appointment or presidential term. Ours is the struggle of a lifetime, or maybe even many lifetimes, and each one of us in every generation must do our part. And if we believe in the change we seek, then it is easy to commit to doing all we can, because the responsibility is ours alone to build a better society and a more peaceful world.

— John Lewis, (1940-2020)

What we call the secret of happiness is no more a secret than our willingness to choose life.

— Leo Buscaglia

Civilization’s history tends to be written in terms of human discoveries and inventions, wars, artistic creations, laws, forms of government, customs, the cultivation of the land. . . . At the heart of this history, however, lies a sometimes hidden narrative of promises, pledges, oaths, compacts, committed beliefs, and projected visions. At the heart of any individual’s story, too, lies the tale of her or his commitments.

— Margaret Farley, Personal Commitments: Beginning, Keeping, Changing

In your dedication to your life’s work,
whatever it may be,
live as though you had forever,
for no amount of careful and devoted doing
is too great
in carrying out that work
to which you have set your hands.
Cultivate in your work and your life
the art of patience,
and come to terms
with our inevitable human limitations,
while striving also
to extend the boundaries of
your understanding,
your knowledge,
and your compassion….
Know that your commitment
is above all to life itself….

— Margaret Laurence

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

— Margaret Mead

I’m doing what I think I was put on this earth to do. And I’m really grateful to have something that I’m passionate about and that I think is profoundly important.

— Marian Wright Edelman

You’re not obligated to win. You’re obligated to keep trying to do the best you can every day.

— Marian Wright Edelman

A lot of people are waiting for Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi to come back — but they are gone. We are it. It is up to us. It is up to you.

— Marian Wright Edelman

Whoever said anybody has a right to give up?

— Marian Wright Edelman

Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.

— Martin Luther King Jr.

The difference between involvement and commitment is like ham and eggs. The chicken is involved; the pig is committed.

— Martina Navratilova

The capacity to combine commitment with skepticism is essential to democracy.

— Mary Catherine Bateson

For every failure, there’s an alternative course of action. You just have to find it. When you come to a roadblock, take a detour.

— Mary Kay Ash

Sustainability isn’t about the quick fix or the cheap solution. Generally it means making a commitment and trying, as best we can, to honor it. In any worthwhile enterprise, from protecting the environment to preserving a relationship, we are going to encounter difficulties. The good life is not a problem-free life. In point of fact, the process of overcoming adversity often produces some of the most rewarding experiences we will ever have. Human beings need to be challenged to ‘test their mettle,’ as it were. Throwing in the towel at the first sign of trouble or small inkling of distress may be the easy thing to do, but it doesn’t help our self-concept. Most of life’s troubles can be overcome if we are willing to work through them with patience.

— Michael A. Schuler

Hope and change are hard-fought things.

— Michelle Obama

To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable.

— Oscar Wilde

Relational trust is built on movements of the human heart such as empathy, commitment, compassion, patience, and the capacity to forgive.

— Parker J. Palmer

Good work is done with heart as well as knowledge and skill, done with a depth of commitment that brings integrity and courage to the workplace.

— Parker J. Palmer

Choosing a path meant having to miss out on others. She had a whole life to live, and she was always thinking that, in the future, she might regret the choices she made now. “I’m afraid of committing myself,” she thought to herself. She wanted to follow all possible paths and so ended up following none.

— Paulo Coelho

Freedom is not the absence of commitments, but the ability to choose — and commit myself to — what is best for me.

— Paulo Coelho

Unless commitment is made, there are only hopes, but no plans.

— Peter F. Drucker

Only do what your heart tells you.

— Princess Diana
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