Mastering The Art Of Commitment

Katie Young
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Wednesday - August 10, 2005

I’ve got commitment on my mind this week — and the importance of finishing what you start.

There are those who live life reveling in the day-to-day moments that make them happy. These people are perfectly satisfied to “go with the flow” with no particular destination in mind. They take opportunities as they are presented and enjoy living more when they don’t have to stress out about accomplishing a particular task by a deadline.

Others have so many things they want to accomplish that they never get around to doing anything but mulling them over in their brains.

Then there are those of us who are “doers.” We thrive on deadlines, the adrenaline caused by pressure and feel our greatest joy when we have set our minds to something and are then able to achieve it. I’m one of the “doers.” I like the fact that my job entails weekly deadlines. It motivates me.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m by no means Wonder Woman and have had my share of lazy days where I don’t feel like doing much of anything. But when I set my mind to something, I usually go full-force to accomplish it to the best of my ability.

It’s true of every feature story and column I’ve written for MidWeek, running in the Cherry Blossom Festival and subsequently, the Women of Hawaii book project I spearheaded as a court member. I’m even that way about my hobbies — beading and scrapbooking, and researching any trip I ever take.

I have to say, in my life, it has been one of the qualities I’m most proud of. There is, however, one thing — just one — that I did start and never finished.

I’ve been ashamed to say it — Oh! So ashamed! — for years. I came home to Hawaii in 1998 with the intention of obtaining my master’s degree in communications from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. I completed two straight years of coursework and the only thing that remained for me to finish was my thesis. Master’s degree in hand, I thought I’d be better prepared to face the working world.

I had a plan. And it was a good one, except in life, most things don’t always go as we plan. I got a job offer and deferred, knowing that once I entered the professional world, it would be hard to finish my degree. But when the opportunity to work at MidWeek presented itself, it was too good to pass up. The road forked and I had to pick a path.

It was the best decision for me at the time, and one I’ve never regretted — not even for a moment. I’ve learned more on the job than I could have if I spent 20 years in the classroom.

But still, there is a dark cloud hanging over my head. It’s something that torments me inside because I’ve never started something this big and left it incomplete.

When people ask me — and they do — I make excuses such as “my busy work schedule,” or “difficulty in finding a suitable topic.”

But in my head I’m cursing myself for letting this opportunity get away from me, especially because the only person I have to blame for the failure is myself.

Every time I look at my resume, I cringe when I get to the part that reads, “candidate for M.A. in Communications, ABT,” meaning “All But Thesis.”

So close, I was so close! That’s the thing about unfinished matters, it can leave you feeling unfulfilled, whether it’s a commitment you make to yourself or one you make to others.

But thankfully, all is not lost.

I re-applied to the program and was accepted. Then I had to overcome yet another hurdle when I discovered my credits were about to expire. Thankfully, my professors believe in giving second chances.

So I’ve got one more year. One year to finish what I started back in 1998. I’m determined to do it this time, and I’m telling all of you so I can’t make excuses anymore.

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