Commit a lot while young | Marshall Shen

Commit a lot while young

Commit a lot while young

Time is the ultimate limited resource. When we are young - graduated from school, don’t have kids, and early in our careers - we have an abundance of time. It’s crucial to treasure that abundance and spend our time purposefully. As life moves along, that abundance of time will inevitably shrink - for most of us, we will have families to nurture, elder parents to take care of, etc. While we are young, most of these time-consuming responsibilities seem far. However, it’s a reality we should face upfront and prepare for. By confronting the fact that we will have less time in the future, we will proactively transform the abundance of time that we have into valuable experience and habits.

One popular advice for the young is “to follow your passion,” but passion takes time to build. When we just step into the real world from school, most of us don’t really know what that passion is. So before we follow our passion, we need to understand what that passion is. Before we follow our passion, we need to commit to different things.

Another popular advice for the young is “to try different things,” but trying and committing are different. Trying things out requires less intention and relies on feelings, whereas committing to things requires more conscious decisions and actions. For example, watching a Youtube video to learn a new dish is trying, but taking a 3-month cooking class in a culinary school is committing. Reading a book called “Computer Programming for Dummies” is trying, but signing up for a weekly computer science class and building a simple project from scratch is committing. Committing to something means thinking about why it’s worth the time, what is the end goal, and making a conscious effort for a substantial amount of time.

When deciding what to commit, we should be open to inspirations around us, and not avoiding things that make us uncomfortable. When I just moved to Chicago, I never had experience acting in front of an audience. Chicago is famous for its improv comedy, and I enjoyed watching them. I was inspired by the improv actors for their ability to think on their feet. I was inspired by improv but scared to act. Eventually, I decided to commit to learning improv by attending weekly classes for almost a year. I got over the stage scare, and I have learned a lot about myself and have formed friendships through that.

Committing to a lot leads to failure. We might spend 6 months working on a computer project but not able to finish. We might take 3-month improv classes and decide it’s not our thing. However, such failure is invaluable because each of them teaches us a bit about ourselves, what we don’t like.

Committing to a lot also leads to success. We might take piano lessons for 3 months and discover a new found love of piano playing. We might take weekly yoga classes and become inspired to become a fitness teacher. Each success makes us realize what we enjoy in life, which leads to better understanding of our passion.

Through an abundance of commitment, we transform the limited resource of time into valuable life experience. Through those commitments, we experience success and failure, which leads to the discovery of who we are.

What are some commitments you have made, what have you learned through such commitment? What commitments are you going to make?