What Does A Commitment Mean To You?

It's easy to point to the world and make comments on how little commitments mean. I'm not tempted to say "anymore". While we do witness certain deteriorations in society, I'm not convinced anything is new. It's not like there was once some idealistic, virtuous time when everybody was nice to each other. The book of Ecclesiastes says there is nothing new under the sun. I think an examination of history shows that to be true. While we have technology now, nothing about the nature of man has changed.

When the iPhone came out in 2007, it came with the announcement that, in the U.S., AT&T will have exclusive rights to the iPhone for at least 5 years. I believe that was extended for a year. But it's not necessary to look it up for the purpose of this blog post. Ever since the iPhone came out, people have been hopeful that Apple will break it's agreement with AT&T and sell the iPhone through Verizon as well. Seriously, people want Apple to break it's contract. They'd be happy about it.

Yeah, how happy will you be when Apple breaks it's AppleCare contract with you?

I like to watch the show "Operation Repo". It's amusing to me. I know, it's mostly an act, or at least, reenactments of actual situations. I'm sure it's realistic enough. When we buy (finance) cars, we sign contracts to make monthly payments on those cars. The contract states that if you don't make your payments, the finance company can send a team like EGA Recovery to come take it back. It amazes me how people can get so defensive, or aggressive. "It's my car! You're not taking MY car!" But the contract that YOU signed says it's now THEIR car, because YOU didn't pay for it.

When I joined the Navy, I signed a contract to serve for 6 years. By the 4 year mark, I was pretty sure I wasn't going to give them 1 more day than necessary. 

I always had problems maintaining my weight and fitness within Navy standards. I was often a "mando commando". I had to participate in some form of mandatory Physical Training (PT) throughout my enlistment because my waist was pushing the limits. Also, I had a lot of trouble running a mile and a half in 13 minutes. I could run 3 or 4 miles at a time, but I couldn't do a mile and a half within the alloted time. 

Every 6 months, the Navy required us to take a physical test known as the PRT (Physical Readiness Test). We had to pass a weigh in and/or a body fat test. Then we had to do so many sit ups, push ups, and a mile and a half in so much time. These varied by gender and age. I think I had to do 45 sit ups, 29 push ups, and a mile and a half in 13 minutes and 45 seconds. I hated every second of it. The scary thing is, I've been out of the Navy for 12 years, and I still judge my physical condition by those standards. 

At one point while serving on the USS Oldendorf (DD-972), we had a PRT (Physical Readiness Test) coordinator who HATED fat people. He literally hated the site of us, but we still had to muster with him every day for weigh ins and PT. He would go on tirades about how much he hated us. We were allowed 3 PRT failures before we could be kicked out of the Navy. If you failed weight and any portion of the PRT itself, that counted as 2 failures. At one point, the PRT coordinator miscalculated my number of failures. He somehow thought I had 2 failures, and told me I'd be kicked out of the Navy for 1 more failure. I was 22 at the time, and about fed up with the Navy. I thought "Wow, all I have to do is NOTHING and I can get out of the Navy. I'll take my electronics training and get a real job."

I could taste the freedom.

Then I realized something. I made a commitment to serve in the Navy for 6 years. I signed a contract. And as I looked ahead at my life, I wondered if I would ever reach a point where I regretted breaking that contract. As good as it would feel to get out in the short term, I realized I did not want to face the longer term consequences of the decision.

And so, I decided to stay in. I found out that the Navy offered an inpatient treatment program for "overeaters". It's actually the same program that alcoholics and drug addicts go to. I spent a month at Miramar MCAS going through this program. I came out of it in shape, within weight standards, and feeling a lot better about myself. The counseling they provided even helped me understand and deal with a few things about myself. I passed the PRT, and I managed to hang in for the last 2 years to finish out my enlistment.

Then I got out. I completed my commitment. And it has paid off several times. 

I've been married for 9 years. We've had plenty of challenges. But I made a commitment in that church 9 years ago in front of friends and family. And during a few times when walking out started to sound like a really good idea, I was always brought back by the commitment I made. And things always got better by sticking to my commitment.

Last week, I was infuriated by the breaking of a minor commitment. A manager told me he would call me back, and didn't. I honestly didn't care if his return call was "You didn't get the job". I was upset that he said he would call me and didn't call me.

Let's bring this back down to Earth. What does a commitment mean to you? Even a really bad one, like staying in the Navy, or letting AT&T have exclusive rights to the iPhone on their crappy network? Do you believe in keeping your commitments? Or are they only means to an end, like I can get this guy off the phone if I say I'll call back, then not do it?

Do you honor your commitments, great and small?

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2 Responses

  1. I am amazed at how some people are dedicated and so committed to their work/school/spouse especially at such a young age. Me in the other hand, have very little motivation to be commitment to anything, but lately I found my self taking steps towards achieving little goals or so, It’s cuz I am growing up lol 🙂

  2. I just came across this article because i am an FC2 in the navy and i was googling information on how to get out of the navy due to PFA failures. I know the Navy isn’t for me, and i am done wasting my life on something that i know isn’t going to be a career. However, i came across your article and i think you really hit on all the things that i was kind of pushing to the back of my mind so i would be ok with getting kicked out. One of the reasons i joined the Navy was so that i would finally complete a commitment – one i couldn’t back out of if it got tough – but what do you know, i found a loop hole.

    I only have 2.5 years left (out of 6) and i think, for now, i am going to finish them out.

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